A few years ago, at St. Lawrence Seminary, a senior was applying to the prestigious United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland. The Rector at the time helped write a letter of recommendation for him, but also put him in touch with an alumnus of St. Lawrence who had graduated from the Naval Academy.
As the alumnus and senior began to talk to each other, they found they shared an excitement about St. Lawrence and the education they had in common, but also that they shared a common love for the Naval Academy. The alumnus was able to talk to the senior about life at the Naval Academy and give him advice about applying, getting accepted, and eventually thriving in a military academy.
Their relationship continued as the St. Lawrence senior started his new path at the Naval Academy and has continued to this day as the student prepares to graduate from the Naval Academy.
This relationship was brought about because the Rector of St. Lawrence, the senior, and the alumnus all understood the importance of relying on your community of personal connections.
Personal connections are one of the most important parts of any full human life. Your network is not just the community of people you can count on to help you find a job, it is a group of people who you can rely on for guidance, help, and friendship over the years of your life.
What most people probably don’t know or realize is that you can start to build your network of connections in high school. Some people think of networking as silly or even manipulative and shallow. But building your network is really about realizing how important your personal connections will be in your life, and investing in those relationships.
Here are four ways you can think about building your network in high school.
Networking with Your Fellow Classmates
Relationships with your classmates can become extremely valuable as you all mature into adults and move into the professional world. They will be the joining the workforce with you at around the same time, taking on internships or jobs that they may later be able to refer you for. Creating friendships now and finding those that have similar educational and career interests can be a valuable way to help each other grow successful careers in the future.
Teachers Can Be More Than Just Teachers
Every high school student knows that the faculty and staff at your school can help you with your homework, provide guidance in difficult academic times, and inspire you to learn more. But high school students often forget that teachers will eventually be writing letters of recommendations for students during college application season. It’s helpful if you take the time to get to know your teachers and let them get to know you. That way, when the time comes for Mr. Smith to write a letter of recommendation, he can speak to your character and personality and not just what he’s seen of your test scores.
It’s beneficial to have a good relationship with your teachers after you graduate as well as while you’re in school. Your high school teachers can become mentors, references for internships and much more while you are in college. Your teachers will also greatly appreciate hearing about how you are and knowing that they have played and can continue to play a role in your success.
Keeping Relationships from Your First Job
Taking advantage of part-time jobs and summer internships during high school gives you valuable work experience (and a little spending money too, which is great). Your first job may not let you buy a car or make a down payment on a house, but it is paving the way for your future employment. This is especially true if your first job is in the career field you are most interested in. The friendships and relationships you form with your boss, supervisor, and other employees can all affect how much you learn and how easily you can transition into an even better opportunity in the future.
Creating an Online Professional Profile
With the increase in web-based hiring, a great way to connect with professionals is through professional social media sites like LinkedIn. Connecting with others in your potential field of interest through friends or other contacts can really help grow your educational and professional network. Being recognized and recommended by your peers for skills you possess and for your personal character can be an excellent help in your professional life.
Growing and creating these relationships and networks doesn’t start when you get close to college graduation, it starts long before then when you first start to make connections and friendships as a mature young person in high school. These relationships only become more important as life goes on.
Establishing relationships with your peers, teachers, fellow alumni, and people in your potential career field can provide great support, friendship, and help as you grow, and lead to even better friendships, mentorships and professional relationships in your future.