On Wednesday evening, I was asked to be a panelist at an international school here in London. They wanted to ask 3 different International Baccalaureate alumni how their IB education helped them get to where they are today. I had been asked to talk about how the IB Diploma helped me get from high school to university to a job at Bloomberg and finally to start my own business 9 months ago. They had around 80 people attend from the school, mostly parents whose kids were around 15-year old students at the school.
A couple themes came up from all three of us panelists answering questions about the value of the IB. One of these themes was the heavy workload, which required us to build our time management skills. The second theme that came up was being taught an international viewpoint, with regards to our history classes, the different compulsive language courses the IB requires, and even the types of literature in the curriculum. The third benefit that came out was the practical skills you learn in the IB, an example of this were the multitude of oral presentations and exams (which we later saw the benefit in interviews and work presentations).
It’s funny because it feels like it’s been so long since high school (8 years!), but as a result of coming to this event, I realised how much of an impact and an influence it had on me. I’m guessing it’s the same for a lot of TCKs who grew up going to international schools? After the event, I realised how the IB allowed me to persevere in German (as a second language is compulsive in the IB). I later used this skill at Bloomberg by speaking to German clients both over our Instant Message and phone calls. By doing French A1 Higher Level, it also allowed me to feel comfortable enough working on the French Sales and Account Management team covering French buy-side asset management companies. I had to send professional emails to follow up with different issues, and I met with French clients 9 business days a month! Without completing the IB, I don’t know if I would have felt as confident to this both in German and in French.
Finally, the IB seems to push oral skills. I remember doing an oral exam in French, English and German class. And, more importantly, we were only allowed to speak that language in class. We couldn’t utter a word of English in German class for example. This built confidence. I wasn’t afraid of speaking in front of my peers, even in a foreign language that I wasn’t proficient in at the time. We were encouraged to forget about this fear and throw ourselves into it, even if it meant making grammatical mistakes. This allowed me to feel comfortable when having to do presentations in front of others at Bloomberg. When I attend startup events, I feel relaxed networking and speaking to my peers about my business.
It’s strange how much of an impact your education can actually have on what you do later in life! Of course, there are so many aspects of your formative years that has an influence on your competence and abilities. However, your education must have a large part to play in the core skills you acquire and further develop in higher education and your professional career. What about you? Did you do the IB diploma? What skills are you still using as a result of doing it?