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Networking Starts in High School

Senior Academic Mentor Edmund Tran reminds you to put in the effort to nurture your relationships. There’s no reason you can’t start building the foundation of lifelong friendships and contacts while you’re still in high school!


That’s what pops up here and there when I look back at my old yearbooks. For those of you not caught up on 90’s acronyms, it stands for “keep in touch”. I haven’t talked to most of these people since I graduated. This is not a slight against them, but rather evidence that KIT is easier said than done.

It gets harder when you get older. Two people can really mean it when they say, “Let’s hang out soon!”, but if no one takes the initiative, then we naturally slide back into our regular routines and those good intentions fizzle. Those who are college-bound in the fall will get their first taste of this challenge when the novelty of a new environment and new friends vies for your attention. It’s also easy to take the 5-days-a-week access you had to your friends for granted. I didn’t realize I didn’t have the contact information of some people who I genuinely would have liked to keep in touch with until I no longer saw them in my classes.

Aside from the joys of friendship, there are many potential benefits of maintaining a wide network. Your high school classmates will pursue a variety of careers and meet a variety of people. You never know if one of them will refer you to a good lawyer when you need it, help you get a job, or even introduce you to your future spouse! If you keep in touch with your favorite teachers, they will be thrilled. These are also people who can vouch for your work ethic or share resources in the field you want to pursue. There is a lot of truth to the saying “It’s not what you know, but who you know.” However, it is important that you maintain your network out of an intrinsic desire to keep in touch with people you like and not what you hope to gain from your connections. Furthermore, in my experience, the more you give to your network, the more you will receive.

Nurturing relationships takes effort, but it doesn’t have to be difficult. You can put the birthdays of your friends as a recurring event in your calendar. You can write supportive comments on their social media posts instead of just leaving a like. One of my favorite gifts was a care package that my friend sent me out of the blue during my freshman year of college. It was just stuff like instant rice, candy, and random inside joke things all put in a shoebox, but I still remember it to this day. No doubt you will continue to meet many amazing people in your future, but there is nothing quite like the people who grew up with you.