World of Work: Careers with a difference

ISB Alum Ed Flaherty presenting at World of Work

On Friday 19 May, 2017, the International School of Brussels hosted the World of Work event, a careers day for High School students. Our school invited speakers, many of whom were ISB alumni, to come and share their experiences and stories around the theme of Rebuilding and Innovation.

The event was divided into two parts: The first, comprising of talks in the style of TEDx, where they could listen to the experiences of the speakers; and second, workshops. The afternoon workshops were when students could have a more in-depth experience of a specific career they were interested in. I attended the International Crisis group workshop with Mr. Joost Hiltermann, where I got an interesting view on the world of NGOs and humanitarian agencies.

The message that most of the speakers tried to get across to us was how sometimes you can go through life with a fixed idea of what you're going to become or do, but end up completely on the opposite spectrum. They imparted their knowledge about how life does not always go according to plan and especially emphasised the significance of taking advantage of every opportunity and making sure to go after what you want and not give up at the first complication. Several speakers also reminded us that even if you don't achieve what you set out to do, you could stumble upon something else that you could enjoy just as much.

What I learned from this event was to be grateful for what you have in the moment and to see what you can do with the opportunities you have, educational and otherwise. I also learned that what got many people into their careers were their personal connections to other people and contacts in other organisations. The speakers stressed the importance of being ready to learn and apply yourself to new things - with this attitude, you will set yourself apart from other applicants and get the job that you are aiming for.

Personally, after this event, my definition of what a career is has altered. I always thought that a career is something that is stable and once you choose one you could never go back and change it. But after this experience, I've realised that a career is what you make it out to be. It's important to realise what you need to do in order to achieve both your professional and personal goals.

A piece of advice that I found really helpful was that you can stumble across something that you really love by taking any and every opportunity that passes. For those who don't know what they want to do when they leave school, you can discover the next step to take by being open to new opportunities you hadn't previously considered. And for those who do know what they want to do, it's important to work really hard at it, don't give up, and in some cases "fake it until you make it", as one speaker told us!

Personally, I don't know what I want to do upon leaving ISB, but I have a lot of interests in many different subjects. I am curious about the world, I want to learn and I am eager to be taught. Through this event, I have learnt from the experiences of others that it's important to continue on in life and give it your best, even if it might be difficult at times. There will be failures and setbacks in life, but also many small wins and victories that you might not notice. It's also important to keep a healthy balance between achieving what you want in life and remembering that life is also about bettering yourself personally and mentally.

In this way, World of Work was beneficial to the development of students' ideas and thoughts about careers, but also about personal development and our outlook on life and the future in general.

Written by Giorgia Sherman, Grade 11 student

ISB alumni present (L to R): Ed Flaherty ('64), Janet Bumpas ('88), Catherine Streib ('94), Robbert Dankers ('88), Austin Sher ('02)