Adventures in networking

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    As you make your way into the lobby, with the click and clack of your
    best pair of shoes, you feel yourself become the target of eyes8212;so
    many eyes8212;eyes like coal-lit furnaces beaming negative thoughts
    your way. Undeterred, you direct your attention to the front desk.

    “I’m here for the networking fair,” you say smiling at the receptionist.
    “And clearly you’re going to do well,” she whips back sarcastically,
    nodding toward the enormous banner that should have indicated
    to you where to go.
    Your smile turns sheepish but you propel yourself into a room full
    of employers, secretaries, random people in suits hovering near the
    snack table and a few who look completely lost. This is not at all what
    you had envisioned. The intimate setting, complete with candlelight
    and young, attractive CEOs who would be impressed with your firm
    handshake, winning grin and overall coolness was way off base.
    Your mind starts to wander as you again consider the financial implications
    of graduation. You envision a stampede of buffalo rampaging
    toward you as you lean over the precipice to glance at your prospects.
    It is a metaphorical cliff overlooking a dry, barren landscape
    with nothing but forbidding cacti and tumbleweeds. Even your daydreams
    have become pessimistic. Snapping back to reality you are
    keenly aware that it is time to be bold and seize the opportunity.
    You cast off your doubt and head over to what looks like a line of very
    important persons shaking hands, making connections, guaranteeing
    futures and making people happy. Your beaming smile returns. You
    make eye contact with the first executive-looking person you see.
    Introductions are quick, but you’ve done it. Words have been spoken
    and some of them actually came from your mouth, however clumsily
    they emerged. You turn to thank your gracious host and say, “Thank
    you Mister … ” Your tongue is stuck in a perpetual r and you continue
    rolling it, hoping for something to spring to your mind. Suddenly you
    spy it, Anderson, boldly printed on his nametag! Success.
    You continue with the hand shaking and the anecdotes which clearly
    indicate your sharp wit, keen mind and personality, which would
    surely take hold in an office of driven individuals. But something is
    not quite right, after thanking each person, you notice a common,
    confused look. You gaze back down the line and whispers are being
    exchanged between your prior prospects. The realization also confronts
    you that nearly everyone else has a stack of business cards,
    while you’ve managed to collect none.
    Taking a step back, you realize that you have been interviewing to
    the employees of the catering company. Turning in embarrassment,
    a speaker is announcing the end of the fair, and what a ride it has
    been. Though a bright future in the food-service industry is almost
    guaranteed, you have managed to avoid a conversation with any of
    the actual companies you went there to see. Heading back to your
    car, you realize that most everyone seems similarly dejected. And
    though there is little comfort in commiseration, you are comforted
    by the fact that you are not the only one. You know that tomorrow
    will provide new opportunities for someone as bold and brilliant
    and brazen as yourself. Just ask the wait staff, they were pretty impressed.
    &-by Matt Boaz