The importance of networks, of community

This has been a tough week for a lot of my friends and colleagues, but what is getting many of us through has been time spent in the company of like-minded, big-hearted people. Just as it’s vital for young people to have caring adults in their lives, it continues to be necessary for all of us grown-ups to cultivate circles of support. That said, I surprised myself a little while ago by deciding that I was no longer going to wrestle with how to build out a mentoring component to my program, because I realized that what I really want to do is to help young people build their own networks. A network, after all, is a web of connection, a safety net. In order for youth to be able to make these connections, we need to equip them with certain tools: how to create professional social media profiles and a meaningful online presence, how to reach out to professionals for informational interviews—of course. But most fundamentally of all, young people need to learn how to nurture a confident, positive sense of self, so when they do take the risk of reaching out to strangers for a favor, they do so in the knowledge that they have something of value to offer in return.

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