The new thing: I went to my first networking party.
Here’s what happened: To gather intelligence on which editors were leaving which magazines before the jobs were posted anywhere, I crashed an after-work party for young editors and interns. Believe it or not, it was my first networking party ever. I was psyched!
The gabfest was held in the tiny party room of a New York bar. The first important piece of information I uncovered was this: When 50 women with still-developing voices gather in a space with as much room as a Smart Car, the sound will bounce from wall to wall and eventually land on my head. Or at least that’s how it will feel.
I chatted the girls up, asking lots of questions about their workplace and offering career advice. If they were giving me insider info, I’ll never know because I couldn’t really hear them. Once, an intern pointed to her friend and said, “She’s from Haiti.” What I heard was, “She’s in the navy.”
I moved to what I hoped was a quieter part of the room and interrupted a conversation between two young misses. We exchanged “where do you work?” banter. One pointed to the other and said, “She’s got a book coming out next summer.” That, I could hear perfectly. Go figure.
Disgusted at this youngster’s success, I headed to the bar for a drink. On my way, I encountered the Haiti/Navy interns swigging pretty pink cocktails. “Ooh, that looks good. What is it?” I asked. “Shirley Temples,” they said in unison. I laughed. “No, really, what is it?” Same answer. Then the light bulb over my head stopped flickering and I understood: They weren’t old enough to drink booze.
Clearly, I was in the wrong place.
I went home, opened up the usual job listing web sites, and settled down with a Scotch.