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.
Content note: Anxiety, depression, suicide, resources.
I think we can all agree that being military children has given us a distinct set of skills – we’re resilient and adaptable, we find communities wherever we go, and we often are excellent at remaining calm under acute pressures. We have these skills because from a young age, we’ve been forced to practice them. I’ve known these things about myself for years, and I suspect you all have as well, but a few weeks ago, I realized that there was one more muscle I’ve become particularly adept at flexing because I’m a military child – worrying. Worrying where your parents were, if they were safe, when they would come home, if they would come home, what would happen if they didn’t – those aren’t things that most American children had to worry about on a regular basis.