Expanding Networks

I got into a spat with my fifteen year-old brother the other day.  The keystone question: who’s the cooler sibling?  Well, if we’re being honest, my brother is a soccer star, plays bass and guitar in a rock band, and pulls off pierced ears with panache… but, I decided we should settle this debate by looking at how many Facebook friends we each have.  He has 759; I have 904.  Victory was mine.  I conveniently ignored the fact that I have a few more networks at my disposal – high school, work, college, etc. – than he does, but these are just details anyway, right?

Unfortunately for sibling rivalry’s sake, networks really aren’t negligible “details.”  As I prepare to jet off to Vienna – at least physically leaving the Haverford network – I’ve come to realize just how important and immensely helpful networks can be.  Sometimes networks mean funny coincidences; my Sociology minor advisor’s good friend conveniently works two doors down from my dad.  But networks carry larger implications too.  For example, midway through the schlump-fest that is finals week, I ignored my trusty sweatpants, wriggled into interview ware instead, and headed to the city to see about a possible summer job.

Given my impending international adventures, over this past semester I’ve been making as many inroads as possible for summer employment.  That meant reaching out to the entirety of the Haverford network: from my friends, to alumni, to former colleagues, to former colleague’s friends, to professors, to professors’ colleagues… you get my drift.  It’s meant sending a lot of kind of awkward emails introducing myself to strangers.  They’re really only pseudo-strangers, though; there’s only one degree of separation from me and all of these possible employers – we’ve got some mutual friends on FB, let’s say.  I soon accumulated a growing list of names, phone numbers, and email addresses in the “Contacts” section of my planner, and all of a sudden, job opportunities, internships, and interviews started to materialize – all catalyzed by the Haverford network.

This has all been pretty informal, but tapping into these networks has also highlighted just how wonderfully, and formally, connected Haverford is.  Janice Lion, the domestic internship coordinator for the CPGC, for example, noted the many bridge programs the CPGC offers for those interested in education and education reform post undergraduate life.  I’m still focused on this summer’s employment options (whilst still beyond excited for Vienna!), but post-Haverford employment, aka real life employment, we’ll lovingly call it, looms.  In addition to the CPGC, our Career Development Office, or CDO, links current and graduating students with alumni, polishes resumes, and conducts mock interviews.  The CDO straddles one of the strongest networks, the Bi-Co, providing Haverford and Bryn Mawr students the resources and connections of both schools.  Knowing these established connections – in addition to the many that are just a phone call away – exist, is like a warm cup of “kaffee mit schlag” (coffee with whipped cream) to those real life employment woes.

Haverford’s community is incredibly strong, and from a friendship standpoint, it’s one of, if not my, favorite aspects of Haverford.  I have made some of the deepest and most genuine friendships here, and that’s been the best.  When all of these incredible friendships also become incredible links, that’s doubly the best.  So, the bestest?  I have just under a week left before it’s “Guten Tag” to Vienna, and “Aufwiedersehen” to Seattle and Haverford friends.  I really hate goodbyes, but I take solace in the fact that Skype is an incredible invention, I’m off on an adventure, my Haverford friendships and connections will remain strong, and this four-month hiatus is just another way of expanding that incredible network.  And I’ll have more FB friends to boot!