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How do you seek contacts in a chosen career path and how does it benefit you?

I am planning to enter the field of educational entrepreneurship and I don't know where to find people who have already chosen this field. I know there are experts on entrepreneurship and education reform but they seem so anonymous and/or distant from a high school student like myself. How much can I "bug" these professionals for advice and how likely is it to build a career-long connection with these like-minded forerunners? #education #entrepreneurship #connections

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Conor’s Answer

Best of the Village

Many educational experts have their own foundations, where some amount of contact info is listed (or alternatively if they are in academia they will definitely have a homepage and directory listing).


What I would do is try to find educational programs that you want to be part of (say, a particular charter school, or a reform movement, or an NGO etc.) and then read as much as you can about it; their website, popular press (magazine articles, interviews etc.)


Most of these organizations will have some way of contacting the organization, and if you state that you're interested in what they are doing, referencing the fact that you have "done your homework" in a tactful manner, there will a certain chance that it will be passed onto the right person.


Something to think about is why you would want to contact experts this early on, to get their advice. It's unclear that they will be able to convey their high level of expertise in a meaningful way to someone who is just starting out. I think it would be a fun opportunity but you could probably learn as much from reading what's out there.


Building a career long connection with some at your age is unlikely, to be totally blunt, because you could still well change what you want and people realize that through college and even a few years afterward, people try new things and tend to be flaky about what they want to pursue. Your best bet is if you want to do a summer internship, or be directly involved with the organization, then by all means reach out. This will probably mean working for a summer, and then getting to meet the person in charge on a handful of occasions, so who you'll really be contacting and want to interact with is not the person who is the forerunner but the ones in charge of hiring or the internship program.


Best of luck, and other online forums such as this one might have more specific information if you give the exact experts you would want to get in touch with.

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Ainsley’s Answer

The thing to remember about building connections is that professionals will be much more eager to help you if you are offering to help them in return. When you find someone you'd be interesting in connecting with, volunteer to help them out with a project, even if it's just a couple hours here or there. (Not everyone can afford to work for free for an extended amount of time -- that's okay. Only do what you can.) By working alongside someone you'll learn an enormous amount about that person, what they do, and whether it's what you want to do. And you'll build credibility that will last far beyond the credibility you might build by networking over coffee.

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