In my last post, I expressed what I learned in Madrid, Spain, a lesson in informational interviews that I can take with me through junior year summer internship interviews and beyond. For this post, I thought I’d share a bit about the second half of my summer in London, where the closest thing to a language barrier was a charming British accent.
In London, taking intensive courses at the London School of Economics, I tried to spend as much time experiencing London as I could: pubs, museums, and gorgeous parks. The focus of this post is what I learned in pubs; how to stand out in a loud, stuffy space. In the job hunt, it’s difficult to stand out without any outlandish comments. If at a height of 1.575 meters (5”2) I could differentiate enough and navigate a dim-lit pub towards an overworked for a pitcher of Pimm’s, I think I can handle standing out during an interview.
A couple lessons regarding differentiation I learned were:
- Push Politely. Standing in a corner isn’t going to get you any closer to the prize seat at the bar. Don’t be afraid to make moves through the crowd, using a bit of strength if necessary. No one forgets a woman who makes herself known. However, it’s important not to shove! Aggression can be a dangerous characteristic, in business and especially in a rowdy pub. As long as you maintain social graces (please and thank-you’s, British accent optional), don’t be afraid to pursue with a bit of force!
- Smile! Fellow Type-A personalities, I think you understand how difficult this may be in situations that seem inefficient, crude, and (horrifyingly) un-air conditioned in the middle of August. But take a deep breath, and just smile. A furrowed brow will only make your navigation through business or a crowded pub more difficult. As the old saying goes, it uses less muscles to smile than to frown!
- Don’t be just another girl at the bar. Make yourself known! You have something special: yourself! Establishing connections and making contacts within a network, be it a company or a pub, makes the road that much easier. For me, this involved befriending a bartender who happened to be from Spain. Not many in the crowded pub were able to shout their orders in the bartender’s native tongue. For business, this means establishing meaningful connections that transcend handshakes and nametags.
So there you have it, ladies! Some of the business-related lessons I learned during my summer as far away from a corporate office as possible. I plan on taking some of these lessons with me as I navigate the financial waters this upcoming year. Cheers!