On leaving school, by a set of curious chances, I found myself in the hallowed halls of an ancient and prestigious seat of learning. In this august environment, I embarked on an unexceptional academic career and thence to a vocation-led commitment to the chalkface, well away from any public forum.
If I were less contented with this obscurity, I might feel a certain envy when the annual college magazine announces that yet another member of my cohort has taken silk, been elected to Parliament or achieved high status in the world of banking, journalism or the BBC. While I have been enjoying a quiet and uneventful existence, my former fellow-students have, it seems, permeated virtually every aspect of British public life.
That being so, I invite you to consider the circular e-mail I received this week, bearing in mind that its content is addressed to former members of a single Oxbridge college, an enclave within the wider University.
It begins innocently enough, with an invitation to join a new alumni network with four aims; firstly to 'Reconnect':
So far so good, though I can't say I'm exactly tempted; I am so far removed from my 20-year-old self as to be virtually another species and I have no desire to meet anyone who knew me back then. In any case, I doubt I would find anything to match the wealth of experience, expertise, humour, creativity and warmth that exists in the blogs listed on the left.Find and reminisce with fellow graduates, see what they have been up to and stay in touch.
Next comes 'Give Back':
Altruism, yes, but also a leg up for the boys (and girls) in the career market, a hint of what is to come next under the heading 'Expand':Introduce, employ and offer to act as a mentor to our graduating students.
Leverage your professional network to get introduced to people you should know.
I'm not sure what that actually means, but, under the management-speak, it certainly sounds remarkably like the Old Boy Network, at least in the context of uniting graduates of the same college online. I'm reminded of a fellow-student who switched place cards at a formal dinner to put himself next to the Master on High Table - now there's someone I really don't want to 'find and reminisce with'.
Finally, there's 'Advance':
Finally, there's 'Advance':
And that, in a nutshell, is what everyone who didn't attend this college or one like it is up against in the search for jobs and promotion, at least in circles where such a background is seen as desirable - and this, remember, is before networking on a University level kicks in.Advance your career through inside connections working in top companies.
Many of those invited to join the college network can be found in the higher echelons of industry, banking, medicine, government, the media and countless other branches of the Establishment where, if this e-mail achieves its purpose, they will doubtless be joined by others simply by virtue of having passed through the same medieval gates.