The Miscellany News Guide to: Successful (?) Networking

There are a series of steps you must take to be successful after Vassar.

First, check the box: YES, you will be attending the Vassar networking career reception in NYC. Forget that you live in Maryland, a.k.a the deepest South, because this will be worth it. The $27 Greyhound bus ticket and inevitable tears do not matter because this reception is leading to a JOB.

Second, find your closest (only) home friend to help you make business cards. Ignore what a laughable endeavor this is because you have no job, office, or location. Contemplate including: “eager to please” as the headline. Think better of it: write “student.”

Third, scour your wardrobe for “business casual.” Google “business casual” when you cannot discern whether an American Apparel bodysuit is appropriate. Model possible outfits for your main confidante (your mother). Pretend to contemplate comment, “that blazer looks sloppy.” Return to your closet to look at other options (play Candy Crush).

Finally, the day has come. You are in NYC. The blazer is appropriately crumpled from the four-hour bus ride. You look “laid back cool.” You feel confident in your ability to “network.” Check over your business cards. Be reassured that despite your complete lack of experience, the extraordinary font and elegant spacing will lead to a screenwriting assistant position on House of Cards.

Arrive at reception. Remain passive, even though the event is at “The Princeton Club” and last you checked, you didn’t go to Princeton. Loftily approach coat check. Hand over your housemate’s North Face and a patchwork sleepover tote bag from elementary school. Request that you have the bag back so you can change shoes. Awkwardly remove your mismatched socks in the presence of several business men who pretend not to notice the smell.

Enter the reception, crowded with other students who are similarly jobless (and thus, useless) and “mingle.” Since there are no alumnae to impress with your “charisma” yet, tell jokes to the wait-staff. Ignore the sinking feeling that you should have attended the Columbia University reception across the hall because at least they have an open bar.

When you notice people mingling around a table with carnival tickets, don’t go. They are drink tickets and ten dollars a piece. Even if you want to tell the smug woman behind the counter that a Natty Light keg would have been cheaper. Hold back. Every moment here is priceless. Kevin Spacey could be (is not) around every corner. Your mother had said, “Maybe Meryl Streep will be there.” And maybe she will be (is not).

Instead of staring at the men by the “Financial Industry” table and wondering why they don’t look like the Mad Men of your dreams, prepare your conversational questions. Things like, “So, do you like your job?” might be met with enthusiasm, or, if you are standing at the Film/Entertainment table, met with the response “uh, haha,” followed by a look-away. Remember that you will be surrounded by the socially inept and thus you must carry the conversations. An apt question would be: “Will you hire me?” (The apt response will be, inevitably, “No. Will you hire me?” leading to a deeply uncomfortable silence and a walk away maneuver).

Aha! An industry person approaches. Well, “approaches” is too strong; ”stands shifty-eyed and edges towards the door.” Take this as your moment to shine. Shoot your hand at them overly forcefully, demonstrating your “career woman” persona. “Howdy,” you’ll say (You’ll say this, idiotically, because you have no idea how to network and this is your personal hell).

After enduring the longest 45-second interaction of your life, you’ll smile and clutch your business cards close to your heart. You will quickly realize that every alumnae and current Vassar student is at a “networking” event because they need to be. No one attends an event like this to hand out jobs, as you previously imagined. Everyone is just as much a bum as you. You watch your dreams plummet to the floor, but you accept your fate gregariously. You are a Vassar woman. You are wearing a smart (crumpled) blazer.

As you glide elegantly to the door, texting your boyfriend frantically to come retrieve you because you are a child incapable of navigating a city, you will be stopped by someone you recognize. You will blurt out plans of moving to Los Angeles, the one choice you feel positive about in your imminent post-grad future. The very sweet alumnae will grimace in response. “L.A. sucks the life out of you.” You will quickly exit the reception and cry in the lobby until Manny from coat check demands that you stop since you are upsetting the business men.

You are set! (See if the Sloss internship is still available).

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