Issue 6 Semester 2
Three weeks ago, I opened the Facebook app and saw a notification cordially inviting me to a ‘fun’ cocktail night hosted by a prestigious law journal where I would have the opportunity to debase myself for a job. I promptly deleted the app out of sheer anxiety. Networking. For those who fall in the ‘I-went-to-law-school-because-I-want-to-help-people’ camp, (or in my case, ‘I-went-to-law-school-because-medicine-was-too-hard-and-I-didn’t-want-to-embarrass- my-ethnic-father’), a casual networking event often results in panicked Googles about how long a handshake should be if you want to exude power and whether a paisley tie makes you look weak in the eyes of the all-powerful HR representatives. It sucks. But as Nike branding has ingrained in me, sometimes you have to ‘just do it’.
I began to prepare my body and my mind. I applied lotions. I ironed my shirt and adjusted my right pinkie finger. The fear was getting to me. As the event loomed, to cope with the stress I asked friends for advice. Unfortunately, I only have one friend. His name is Bartholomew. His three pieces of advice were to find food, shelter and resources. Admittedly, Bartholomew is an old, potentially homeless man who wanders the streets of North Melbourne and in hindsight his advice had fairly limited value. Still, I love Bart and his words echoed in my head, as I walked into a room probably named after a racist at Melbourne University.
As I dawdled into the event, a David Attenborough narrative ran through my head. I examined the scene in front of me. 22 year olds in well fitted suits and colourful gowns expertly holding martini glasses, discussing their bright wonderful futures with beaming smiles. If I had not been doing some version of a law degree for the past 10 years, I could have taken an Instagram and labelled it #wholesome. However, I knew what was really happening here: a bloodbath of passive aggressive chit chat aimed at squeezing as much information out of people with the goal of securing employment at the expense of everyone else.
I saw an acquaintance of mine as I entered the networking octagon and learned that she was successful in getting a job at a top tier law firm. I congratulated her because I love Allen’s lollies. As soon as the word ‘traineeship’ was uttered, a stranger appeared to the side of my acquaintance. He looked directly in her eyes, whispered the words ‘I heard you got Allen’s,’ nodded resentfully and sadly walked away, shaking his head. As soon as the words came out of his mouth, a series of pale sweaty hands reached in and a progression of shoulder pads shoved me out of the way and I was pushed to the ground with phrases such as “you totally deserve it girlfriend,” “can I get the email of the HR manager,” and “can I have your Admin notes” ringing in my head. I needed to get out.
Bart’s words came back to me. Food. Shelter. Resources. Fortunately, the law school kids were too busy asking each other how much they got their RM William boots for to notice there was an assortment of wonderful delights circulating the room. Beetroot crostini with a goat’s cheese rémoulade. Lamb meatballs with a harissa glaze. Pies. I quickly gathered my food and found shelter in a nearby coatroom. I soon realised that the coatroom was not the best place for a brown man to network as people assumed I was the one who was taking coats so after taking Bart’s third piece of advice to heart, I left the coatroom with three new wallets and began my slow walk home.
Another successful networking event. 5 stars.