I spoke with my Consumer Management class last week about networking. They stared at me with a “we’ve heard that term but don’t really know what it means” look. That’s when I realized that high school students are never taught HOW to network.
I’ve been in education for almost 20 years now and it happens every year. Students applying to college come running to me and other teachers for letters of recommendations last minute. I write about a dozen or so a year. I need to stop. I need to let those students know that 99% of all students in America are doing the exact same thing. Let’s look at a student who is interested in marketing in college. What if that student had a letter of recommendation from a Marketing Manager for a Fortune 500 company? Would they stand out over other a student who got rec letters from a teacher? My guess is hell yes!
I never thought of how big a network for young people was until a recent college grad was struggling to find a job in a profession they were extremely qualified for. THey had the resume, the certificates and degrees. They had a small network. Most of the students I know have a network that exists only of educators and maybe a few others who are family friends. In one of my latest interviews on Disrupt Education, Kevin Price said a quote that rings true with life and making connections to find employment. He stated that people in high school would laugh at him because he had so many “older acquaintances” he talked to back then. He followed up that statement with “those students aren’t laughing now” after he had a pick of job offers because of his network.
Part of the High School graduation requirements should be to teach students how to network and how to actually set up a network of at least 25 people. I am working with Yolobe Inc. which is doing just that. Yolobe was co-founded by a good friend of mine David Douglas. It is a platform not only to educate students how to build their professional social media platform, but also to connect them with local jobs, opportunities, mentors, etc. It is designed to build networks for young people. Students are in dire need of this type of learning. It goes way beyond certification, diplomas, test scores and grades. This is just another way to authenticate outdated education systems. Another way to Disrupt Education.