By Benedikt Reynolds
Networking is rough, and I can’t help but feel guilty when it works out. If I’m able to score a job from a professional connection’s recommendation, I end up asking myself: Did I land the job because of my own hard work? Is the company settling? Did I earn it? In 2015, as I transitioned from high school to college, I recognized that many of my peers felt the same way. That we were all discouraged from networking even though we recognized its benefits: opportunities where we could grow as an individual and contribute to the growth of an organization, a cause, or an industry. So, how can we transition our mindsets to embrace networking?
A few Wednesdays ago, a group of about fifteen seventh-graders filed into my classroom for the first ever meeting of our school’s “Community Service Committee.” The group was the result of a new effort to give students more opportunities to take on leadership roles in the school, but I knew that quite a few of the students hadn’t exactly leapt at the chance to sign up for community service–instead, they wound up in the committee I’d be advising after their preferred slots in other committees filled up.
Sometimes being in school is exhausting. I love what I am doing, but my mornings usually consist of me having a conversation with myself about whether or not I really need to do what is on my schedule that day. Plus, being in Chicago when the wind chill makes the temperature read single digits in the morning definitely doesn’t help.