The headteacher column with Mark Ronan

Pocklington School headmaster Mark Ronan.
Pocklington School headmaster Mark Ronan.

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.

Networking isn't new but it's increasingly important in an uncertain workplace. It's said that 60% of jobs are not formally advertised.

Networking isn't new but it's increasingly important in an uncertain workplace. It's said that 60% of jobs are not formally advertised.

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 School’s 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 our nurturing, supportive culture to offer lifelong advice and expertise 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, with invited speakers, and to join our private LinkedIn group.

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 Old Pocklingtonians (OPs) who have made a success of their business or profession. As anyone who stays in touch with old school friends will know, there’s nothing like the instant sense of common ground that allows us 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.

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; older pupils have been attending meetings 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.

One of the strongest messages already coming through at our meetings 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 encouragement of a business network behind you, the world is full of opportunity!