ABC Networking Night

My shipment of business cards weren’t shipped on time. Not exactly the way I wanted things to start, but sometimes you gotta roll with the punches. I quickly scrounged up a business card for my department’s networking night and printed them out on flimsy computer paper. With my frail stack of embarrassingly amateur cards and fliers in hand, I changed into my “best” clothes. Thankfully I interned at a zoo, so my dress requirements were more lax than those who interned at animal labs and veterinary offices. I headed towards Moumgis in my best polo and Lehigh Valley Zoo hat.

I sat down at my white table and spread my business cards and fliers. I was able to talk to some of my friends in my major while we waited for things to get started. I noticed my table was inexplicably sticky on one side, which was probably more unnerving than having to speak to strangers about my experiences at DelVal and as an intern. I sat there and waited, trying to look as approachable as possible. They had pizza and refreshments, but I was going to wait until the end; a reward for a job well done.

Things were busier at first and slowed down later into the hour. There weren’t as many people as I remembered when I went freshman and sophomore years, but maybe that is because I was the one doing the walking around back then.  I talked to maybe four or five people about my experience and only one of them was really interested in my zoo internships. The others seemed only interested in my signature and getting out of there as fast as possible, which is understandable. They were required to be there, and, from what I gathered, most people who want to be lab techs and vets aren’t too interested in a zoo internship.

I think that there was something lost with the new format of the event. I felt unapproachable. I was sitting down behind a table, waiting for people to talk to me. I didn’t have any visual aids or posters or anything to really make my table stand out. The table itself seemed like a barrier between the people visiting and myself. Perhaps if we were standing in front of the table we would appear more approachable. And we should have been required to bring some sort of attention grabber, be it a poster, a biofact, something from where we interned, anything that would work as a conversation piece for someone wanting to come up to talk to us.

It doesn’t feel useful for anyone if we just talk about our experience to freshmen. It isn’t particularly memorable or engaging unless they are invested in the topic before we begin. We should be having a conversation with them. We have been through four years of DelVal; we have gone out and gained the experience in the field. We should be offering advice, answering questions, pointing them in the right direction. It didn’t feel like that; it felt like I was talking to a bunch of people who were only interested in the food and getting their papers signed.

And why should they be interested? We were just a bunch of men and women sitting behind tables. We didn’t look interesting, which goes back for the need of the visual aid. When I went to the presentations as a freshman, they had these impressive boards and pictures. I could read about a place while they were talking to someone else. I could start a conversation about a topic based on their board. I was able to see what they did as well as I was able to hear it from their own stories. It was more helpful and engaging for both parties.
The real unfortunate thing, for me anyways, was that I spent $15 on business cards that never shipped; even if they did, I barely handed mine out. Basically I was paying for a more professional appearance and better grade, because this event was graded, and ended up not being able to reap the benefits. The networking night felt smaller, less inclusive than it did when I was a freshman. I didn’t feel like I was introducing the new students to the school and the opportunities waiting for them. I hope someone just didn’t crumple up my paper business card, and if they did that they at least recycled it.

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