I recently had an interview with a headhunting agency and I was confident in my narrative which took me to the start of my career 17 years ago. However, I was not prepared for their request:
“OK, so could you take us through your background to bring us up to speed on how you got to where you are now”
“Of course, my first business…”
“Sorry, no could you take us back to your school days?”
“My school days?”
“Yes, back to your school days please.”
I had never built my school years into my narrative seeing them as more of a default part of my life rather than something to call out. I gave a brief overview, but it was after the interview that I really started to think about how my school years plays into the work that I do, how I work and who I am.
I spent some time going back over this and realised (as with most things in retrospect) that there were so many elements I didn’t call out which were fundamental starting points for key skills and experience I have today. For example, trekking in the Atlas mountains (teamwork in extreme environments and leadership), winning a poetry competition (writing skills), my grades (ability to learn and achieve), my hobby of horse riding to a high standard internationally (team, hard-work, initiative, drive, focus), setting up an all-girl rugby team (vision, bringing ideas to life).
If you haven’t already, I recommend building your school years into your narrative. It is a great way to show you as a person and iterate your core skills and, for me anyway, discover that much more came from my school days than I had previously thought.