Most of us look back on our careers and pinpoint a key piece of advice, or an experience good or bad, that made all the difference to the progress we made or the direction we followed. Some have been lucky enough to find a mentor to guide us.
The best schools provide plentiful advice and support and take the time to help each young person make the right choices to start their journey into the world of work. There was a time when that was it, job done, but today’s career paths are not so easy to plot. Very few people remain in the same role – or even career – for the rest of their lives.
Our decision to launch a Careers and Business Network was partly in response to this new reality. It was also an effective way of taking forward “the spirit of Pock,” the nurturing, supportive culture which is central to our ethos, in order to give continued high-quality learning and encouragement to Pocklingtonians after they leave school.
The Network offers lifelong advice and expertise to help members thrive in a highly competitive world. It’s open to current and former pupils, as well as anyone in the wider Pocklington School community. Whether they’re seeking advice, potential business opportunities or sharing experiences, they’re invited to network and socialise at our regular meetings (recently held at the School, in Leeds and in London), and to join our private LinkedIn group.
Since its launch last November, the Network has brought new momentum to our OP Association, as well as our Careers Service. Straight away, an incredible array of talented and successful people signed up and indicated a willingness to share their insights and advice to both pupils and other Network members.
The Network is as much about inspiration and aspiration as advice: current pupils, those new to the workplace, and those who feel they’ve reached a career crossroads are galvanised by OPs who have made a success of their business or profession.
As anyone who stays in touch with old schoolfriends will attest, there’s nothing like the instant sense of common ground that allows one to relax and dispense with facades. The shared bond of loyalty and trust makes opinions and advice easier to take and give. Our Network mixes this camaraderie with the sense of purpose common to a business networking event.
OP Martin St Quinton, a former Ernst & Young Technology Entrepreneur of the Year, now Owner and Chairman of Gloucester Rugby Club, set the tone when he spoke candidly at our launch about what drives him – and the lessons he’s learned along the way.
Hearing about the experiences of others helps current students see that few career trajectories are predictable. There will be setbacks – but the insight they bring feeds into the next opportunity. There’s an art to spotting those openings and knowing when to leap… so the more they hear from people who’ve done it, the better equipped they are to make their own informed decisions.
Networking isn’t new but it’s increasingly important in an uncertain workplace. It’s said that 60% of jobs are not formally advertised, so the more contacts we have in our chosen profession, the better. Effective networking is also an acquired strength and pupils needs as much practice as possible. Older pupils who have attended our Network meetings have been able to try out their networking skills within a safe environment, giving them a head start when they enter the world of work.
Career capital – the connections and credentials that will help people make an impact in their job – relies very much on electronic networking, which is where our Network’s LinkedIn group comes in. Only a few months after launch, it’s already a valuable social group at members’ disposal.
The Network has a monthly focus, when we share details of industry associations, industry news and events via social media. We also invite a guest speaker to our meetings. One of the strongest messages already coming through is Don’t give up. Grasp opportunities, stay positive, never stop learning and help others along the way. No route is straightforward but with the pooled advice, experience – and spirit – of Pocklington behind you, the world is full of opportunity!