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The power of your network

Matthew Ferby joins us this year as an alumni contributor to share his experience from both the Middle Years Programme (MYP) and Diploma Programme (DP). This is his third story of the series.

By Matthew Ferby

Up until now, good grades, community service, and other individual accolades got you what you deserved. To that, I say congratulations! I know how exciting and rewarding it is to put in work and receive due diligence for that work. That is, however, not exactly how it works after you complete the DP.

“Once you enter college and the workforce, exhibiting good work ethic will get you half-way … the other half will come with the strength of your network.”

At the point when your own work is not enough, your network fills in the gap. My experience with networking has gotten me a few things – internships, job offers, fully funded education – that I would not have gotten on my academic merit alone.

Disclaimer: you still have to work hard. Once you enter college and the workforce, exhibiting good work ethic will get you half-way to accomplishing your goals. The other half will come with the strength of your network. Simply put, a network is a group of friends and colleagues that can help you reach your personal, academic, and professional goals. And whether you know it or not, your teachers, doctor, and other professionals all have a network. Considering this, it is inevitable that you will need one as well.

Building a network is not an easy task. It requires socializing with unfamiliar people, asking for help, and building strong relationships. A lot, right? The great thing is you can start building your network right now with these five tips:

Keep in contact with classmates who want to go into the same career field as you. A friend today, may be a job recommender tomorrow.

Ask family members or professors if they know anyone who works in the field you want to be in after high school or college. Persons with experience in their profession are well connected to the profession. So, if an opportunity pops up, make sure your name comes up in the conversation amongst professionals.

Before going off to university, scout out a potential mentor within your department. This could be a professor, alumni, or an upperclassman. Like point 2, this person can vouch for you in cases that require communication between professors.

If you are an introvert, learn to challenge what keeps you from interacting with other people. Despite what you think, people can be fun and engaging. Try it! You won’t know whom you’ll meet until you meet them.

Follow Up! If someone reaches out to you, reply. As you know, time is extremely valuable. Make sure people know that you care about your development as much as you say you care.

Even though I provided these five tips, understand that networking is a fluid topic. There are countless ways to do it, so find what works for you. I am still learning how to network after eight years of doing it. Start small and grow. Even if you don’t intentionally do it, know that it is happening every day.

Matthew Ferby graduated from the Diploma Programme (DP) at Harding University High School. He received his B.S. in Civil Engineering from North Carolina A&T State University. He is currently a graduate research assistant in the Civil and Environmental Engineering department at Virginia Tech. Matthew joins us this year as a 2018 alumni contributor to share his experience as a DP graduate.

Matthew square