We invited IB diploma graduates to reflect on post-IB life and offer perspectives on topics of their choosing. This is the second article in a series by Jasmine Jackson-Irwin, one of this year’s cohort of alumni contributing authors.
By Jasmine Jackson-Irwin
An IB alumna, a liberal arts graduate, and a tech salesperson walk into a room. What do these three have in common?
Surprise: they’re the same person, and that person is yours truly.
What good were all of those Internal Assessments? Sure, classroom debates in History of Americas were fun, but what good will it do in a few years?
You may walk into an introductory course on chemistry one morning, mesmerized at the possibility of life in lab, only to then find yourself lost in 20th century critical theory in a philosophy course later in the afternoon. The freedom to pursue a variety of courses can seem overwhelming. You might even experience moments of longing for the predetermined schedule of high school–hard to believe, right?
I can assure you that few things have better prepared you for this thrilling, albeit daunting, new adventure than an IB education.
Despite its initial hurdles, the magic of college remains the opportunity to take academic risks. You exist in an environment that not only facilitates, but encourages, challenging yourself with new topics and exploring different styles of learning. As someone only two years removed from undergrad, I can assure you that few things have better prepared you for this thrilling, albeit daunting, new adventure than an IB education. The critical thinking developed in Theory of Knowledge, combined with writing skills cemented by your Extended Essay–to name only a few examples–serve as an incomparable baseline of academic and personal ability to conquer a liberal arts education.
As your college graduation approaches, some may try to instill a sense of gloom and doom about the impending realities of the ‘real world.’
“The fun is over!”
“Time to stop learning and focus on working.”
I can attest that the learning does not stop, but how and what you learn does change. Change can be scary, and adjusting from the life of a full-time student to a working professional (or somewhere in between!) can be difficult. The beauty of entering the professional world, however, is that you oftentimes become reacquainted with experiential learning that may have been missing in recent years. Sound familiar? Experiential education opportunities pervade the DP and many of us grew accustomed to that hands-on approach in our early schooling.
If you asked me at the beginning of college if I saw myself having a career in tech, I probably would have laughed at you. Yet two years and two companies later, I am constantly amazed by the rapid growth and ingenuity in the industry, and everyday find myself learning more than the day prior. Through my current work I have embraced a learn-by-doing strategy that I first developed in IB vis-a-vis opportunities such as the Personal Project in the MYP, or CAS hours in the DP. When collaborating with teammates overseas, occasionally in my second language, or working with clients to solve complex problems affecting their business, I rely on creative thinking, a holistic approach to information gathering, and strong communication of thought to support my team and excel individually. Fortunately, though, I developed those skills many years ago as they rest at the core of my IB education.
The IB program is a rigorous exercise in perseverance, academic excellence, and commitment to personal development. As you find yourself in the throws of those final years of the program, moments of frustration and concern for the future will undoubtedly arise; but rest assured that you will continue to reap the benefits of this education and all of your hard work for years to come. Let your IB education serve as a stepping stone to a life of learning and exploration, not the end.
Jasmine Jackson-Irwin is a proud North Carolina native and recipient of the IB diploma from Parkland Magnet High School. As an undergraduate at the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill, Jasmine paired her academic pursuits in Political Science and German Literature with extracurricular advocacy work, addressing issues in state and local politics, criminal justice reform, and international education. After graduating from Carolina, Jasmine made a professional jump into the tech industry and hopscotched across the United States, most recently landing in San Francisco. She can generally be found reading voraciously about the music industry, ranting about the superiority of Southern cuisine, and dancing in the corner of concert venues across the Bay Area.