The value of school reunions and networking

Published: January 13, 2012
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Froebel’s, recently took the initiative to work on building opportunities for networking, which culminated with the school’s first alumni reunion. PHOTO: MUHAMMAD JAVAID

High school is a time many students think they’d rather forget. A year or so after, once university life kicks in, it’s a time almost every person begins to reminisce about. Ten years down and one can only wish for a day of walking around the place that once was a second home.

High school reunions are one of the few opportunities most students have to relive school days and reconnect with school friends. But even more so, they are a great opportunity for networking. After all, it’s not every day that you get to interact with hundreds of people from dozens of different professional fields while being in a position to talk as an equal, with relative disregard for most divisive social norms, because at a reunion, you are all simply alumni.

With a few notable exceptions, most of the private schools in Pakistan do not have formalised alumni networks. My own alma mater, Froebel’s, recently took the initiative to work on building such a network, which culminated with the school’s first alumni reunion.

Being together with the old class, and indeed, since it was not for just one graduating year, much of the student body from the 80s up to very recent graduates, made for an amazing afternoon of reminiscing and discussion, from pranks disciplinary violations and of course ‘phaddas’, to result day, classroom assignments, school plays and the evergreen faculty. Even our old physical training instructor, Sir Mehrban was there, swamped by 30-odd years worth of the biggest pranksters, rule-breakers and one-time slackers that Froebel’s had to offer.

One such rule-breaker asked him if it was safe to smoke at the event (apparently the fear of suspension still lingers), to which, witty as ever, he replied:

“Don’t you dare, or I’ll pull out your unpaid uniform violations, they probably run into hundreds of thousands by now!”

He decided to err on the side of caution and went off-campus to smoke.

A friend who graduated from school almost a decade before me couldn’t get over the fact that so many people who had walked through the school acting like kings and queens (of nothing) had returned as humble and generally successful adults. I personally was ecstatic when I got to meet a couple of class fellows I hadn’t met since result day back in ‘03.

But back on topic, networking, a skill that, unfortunately, is most often abused by the ‘safarish’ crowd, is also a key to career development for any professional. It’s why kids go to schools like Aitcheson, KGS, or Froebel’s. It’s why teenagers go to Harvard, Oxford, or, closer to home, LUMS. Quite simply, it is often the only thing that separates the uber-successful from fledgling middle tier.

And that is something worth going back to school for.

Vaqas Asghar

Vaqas Asghar

The author is a senior sub-editor on the Islamabad Desk and also reports on diplomatic events. He tweets as @vasghar (twitter.com/vasghar)

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.