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VOX’s Network Ninja Unites Teen Staff and Board Members

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Catherine networks with Mikael, fellow VOXer, and Maurice Garland, VOX volunteer.

Network Ninja a professional success

I’d never been to a cocktail party. Or a network ninja. Or a mocktail party, for that matter. The whole situation was entirely new to me. I decided to go because, hell, it sounded interesting. And networking would be a good way to get info for my VOX Investigates project. I headed into VOX’s comfy room where Rich, the VOX Arts, Culture and Entertainment Editor, and the rest of the VOXers hashed out the details of our mocktail networking — specifically, how to behave.

Now, I’d gotten the gist of conversation already and considered myself pretty OK with talking to people. But I always had a certain nervousness about me. Conversation with a new person was never easy. But I was pleasantly surprised to find out that these people, professionals in their respective fields, had possibly the same sort of social awkwardness that I did.

But I learned how to speak to them. I made introductions and delved, quite professionally I might add, into my own topics. And I think I did pretty cool. I got some solid contacts to interview for my project. I met  a lot of new people, many of them VOX board members, and I got people to hear what I had to say and take me seriously — which is sort of the point of VOX.

All in all, I’d say this was a win-win.

 – Catherine Boyd, 18, High School Graduate

Jamaya and VOX Board Chair Lindsey engage in professional conversation over mocktails.
Jamaya and Lindsey, VOX board chair, engage in professional conversation over mocktails.

Adults are just as nervous as teens at networking

I was nervous stepping into the room for the VOX Networking Ninja Mocktail Party. I’m not good at small talk, so the idea of talking for the sake of talking seemed intimidating and artificial to me. For the first minutes, I just stood by myself looking awkward, semi-hoping no one would talk to me. But as I fell into the tempo of the event and started connecting with people, my nerves settled.  After what felt like a few minutes, I was being told that the event was ending.

I had fun meeting, exchanging with, and learning from the VOX board members.  Like any VOX event, the environment was supportive and encouraging.

Network Ninja helped me learn: a) talking to people isn’t that scary; b) connecting with adults isn’t always awkward and c) you probably have way more in common with people you don’t know than you may think.

Though I had a few weirdly silent moments, stilted conversations and trouble exiting conversations, I’m glad I was able to hone my networking skills in a safe space as opposed to an environment where the affects of my gaffes could have been damaging. If you stay in the moment, network ninja is a real treat.

Overall, Network Ninja was a great experience. It’s a cool way to learn how to break the ice with strangers. I’ll definitely take some of the skills I learned at network ninja to help me in other settings. Though nerve-racking at first, network ninja was practical, enjoyable, and enriching. After going to network ninja, I feel way more confident and secure in my networking skills.

-Jamaya Tookes, 17, The Paideia School

Jada and board member laugh it up at Network Ninja.
Jada and Susan Bradbury, VOX board member, laugh it up at Network Ninja.

Network Ninja connected me with new people

Network Ninja was one of the greatest days of my life! I had a great time learning the ins and outs of how to communicate with people who work in the industry. I also learned from my guide on the side and VOX Arts, Culture and Entertainment Editor, Rich, what not to do while networking and what can truly help you.

I talked and mingled with many people I hadn’t met such as the VOX board members and engaged with my former VOX Investigates mentor, Tess. Aside from the mingling, one thing I enjoyed was Susan’s, VOX Program Director,  mocktail which contained ginger ale and fresh cranberries. Delicious!

Network Ninja taught me it is important to keep good relationships with the people you meet because they can help you in the future and possibly offer you an internship. One tip I learned was to be confident and look the person you are talking to in the eyes; it shows that you are very interested. It is also very important to dress appropriately and look presentable when talking to adults who offer you opportunity, because you represent yourself and your family.

I highly encourage my peers to attend the next Network Ninja. Can’t wait to see you all there!

-Jada Jackson, 17, North Atlanta High School

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