why RAs are the best wedding dates ever

why resident assistants are the best wedding dates everwelcome to the main building at Drexel University

I recently went to a wedding with my friend Ryan.  He asked if I would go.  I said yes.  Then he told me it was a family wedding and I was going to be meeting a lot of really important people from his childhood.  He followed it up with “but I knew you could handle it, which is why I asked you.”
Sometimes Most times in life people like to humor me, but this time I didn’t feel like I was being humored.  Why?  Because I used to be an RA.

Last year I had two weddings that I needed dates to and both times I took an RA.  I took Ryan to a wedding where I wouldn’t know anybody else there and I took Brian to a Catholic school girl wedding – which says something in itself.  And you know what, I knew they could both handle it.  Because they were RAs.

It was Ryan who pointed this out to me and inspired this post.  (See, credit where credit is due.)  All content is original.

Why RAs Make The Best Wedding Dates

They usually remember names, and if they can’t remember names, they remember facts.  I happen to be one of the people that remember names.  But I can assure that even if an RA can’t remember that the girl with the brown hair in the blue dress is Michelle, he or she will remember that Michelle loves to travel and went on a really cool trip to Argentina last year with the tall man standing next to her (Rob).  That could be useful if you’re left alone in the bathroom line together.

They clean up nicely.  Please see Exhibit A below.

Vanelly4Exhibit A

They know how to make small talk.  The first weekend of being an RA when all of your residents move in you not only need to make small talk with every resident on your floor, but every single resident who is in your building, and his or her parents, grandparents, siblings, significant others, etc.  As an RA you have a stash of really easy small talk ideas already lined up – the weather, the day of the week, something the person is wearing, a fun fact you just learned, a question to ask, and more.

They know how to ask unassuming questions.  If you don’t know anybody besides your date at a wedding you don’t know that Uncle John used to be dating Sally, but he’s now in a domestic partnership with Betty – and Sally’s now married to Joann and together they own a company where they heal plants using crystal and gemstone therapy.  And there’s nothing wrong with any of that – but you honestly have no idea what you’re walking into.  So, if you’re already pre-programmed to ask questions like “so where do you call home” or “tell me more about that” or “so what does that look like” you’re going to be a lot better off.

They don’t mind making fools of themselves on the dance floor.  Most RAs don’t have any shame.  They’ve already been put on the spot so many times that there’s just not room to keep that emotion around.  Also, sometimes the easiest way to break the ice is to make a fool of yourself.  Hey, somebody’s got to do it.

They’ve seen it all.  Seriously.  The types of questions I got asked as an RA blew my mind – don’t get me wrong, I was always happy to answer – but I was shocked at the amount of personal questions that people asked.  Questions about hygiene, sex, alcohol, death, careers, salaries, religion, politics – we’ve heard it all, from students and parents.  Also, we’ve already dealt with a lot of drunk college students, and your friends and family can’t be any worse than that.

Did I miss anything?

dining etiquette

In addition to hearing a little bit more about what to wear in a corporate setting at my training, I also took (another) dining etiquette class.  I had the privilege of getting to hear a little bit more about dining etiquette from Laura Katen, Deborah Goldstein and Jeannette Dunn from Katen Consulting.  (Check it out: http://www.katenconsulting.com/) Most of the discussion focused around corporate dining; however all of these skills are transferable to dates and meals with friends and family.  Here were some of the major takeaways from the affair:

How to be classy while dressed to impress.
(alright, this was not a takeaway from the affair, this just my awesome senior design team)

If you are the GUEST:

  • Wait until the host arrives before sitting at the table
  • Be aware of how fast people are eating and set your pace accordingly

 If you are the HOST:

  • Drop hints about what types of food your guests should be ordering so that they don’t have the awkward “how much money should I be spending” debate while choosing their meal
  • Unless you know your audience well, avoid potential “awkward situations” such as a tapas or family style meal

If you are either the HOST or a GUEST:

  • When you get up to leave the table during the meal, your napkin should be placed on your chair.
  • When you get up to leave at the end of a meal, your napkin should be placed on the table.
  • Research the restaurant beforehand to make sure that you understand the menu.
  • The proper time to pick up your napkin is when everybody has seated themselves at the table.
  • Don’t hold a wine glass by the bulby-part, hold it by the stem or bottom.  (Clearly this was not written like this the first time.)

Finally, if you ever see somebody that you know and want to go say hi to them – instead of getting into an awkward situation where they other person may not remember you - mention where you know them from so that things are less awkward.  For example, “Hey, Lisa, how have you been since training in New York?”

These are some great tips, good luck remembering them all… it was great to meet the lovely ladies of Katen Consulting, thank you for everything!  Remember, practice makes perfect, and Bon Appetit!

tips on going to an external networking event

I’m half writing this blog post as a review and I’m half writing this blog post to teach myself a lesson – again. I just thought you all should know.

Tonight I went to my first external networking event in Philadelphia, well, my first external networking event anywhere that just happened to be in Philadelphia. It was approximately 100 times easier than I thought it was going to be. I was nervous. I didn’t know anybody. I still don’t really know anything about my job or what I’m going to be doing – but I just kept telling myself this was a good chance to practice my “elevator pitch”. By the time I was talking to the third person, I had finally figured out the best order for the words to come out of my mouth. (It’s the little things in life…)

So here was the scene – swanky location in Philadelphia, big open bar – everyone was given two free drink tickets and pretty much no other instruction or direction. I was surprised how many people there came alone (just like me!) and I was surprised for how many people that was their first event (also, just like me!). The point of everybody being there is to meet people – so everybody’s really friendly and willing to talk – or just wanting to give you a business card, in which case, you really don’t need to make conversation very long at all. It definitely seems rude to go up and intrude on a conversation, but it wasn’t as awkward standing alone in the corner with a drink as you think it would be. Because within 2 to 3 minutes, somebody else would be passing by that didn’t have anybody to talk to either. So then comes the conversation – what’s your name, what do you do, where do you work…. and I kept trying to pull in other conversations such as are you from Philly, what else do you do besides work, talking about the Philadelphia restaurant scene and planning parties – you know, things I feel like I actually know about. And I told people I had just started my job – and instead of that being weird, it was a great segway into, well, what did you do before that, where did you graduate from, etc, etc. (Aside: Blogger is telling me that “segway” is not a word – so please excuse my possible misconception of a word? Just like I learned the phrase “for all intents and purposes” – sorry, sidetracked)

Anyway, I’d say every conversation lasted on average seven minutes (except for the guy that I stood waiting to get my free drink with – that was closer to a fifteen minute conversation) – which is just enough to get to know something about each other and get past the basics.

I talked to two gentlemen and three ladies and then I decided to leave. Why did I decide to leave? I ran out of business cards – I had only had three. (I’d forgotten to pack any of the 150 sitting at my desk. Again.) So after the second time of saying – “oh, I’m sorry, I don’t have a card, let me write down my information for you” (luckily one of the ladies didn’t have business cards either so that made the exchange less awkward) – I decided it was time to pack up. Five business cards – that sounds like a success for my first external networking event. I’m excited for the next one :) AND it’s definitely not as scary as it sounds. The hardest part is walking in the door.

four cards + the free drink ticket I didn’t use + one lady’s information in my phone

SO – IN CONCLUSION.

Dear Chrystina -

Please, PLEASE remember your business cards at the next networking event. PLEASE. It will make things a lot less awkward. Third time’s a charm, right?

with love, Chrystina

internal networking: group lunches and speed networking

Today was a day of internal networking. I was at work for 10 hours (including lunch) and I think I spent 4 of those hours doing internal networking. Now let me tell you – I thought this was absolutely awesome. I love meeting people. Here’s how it was done -

About two weeks ago, I decided that there had to be more people around the age of 22 in my entire company than just me. So, I decided to e-mail HR and ask for a list of names of everybody who had been a campus hire in the past few months. I got a list of 20 names or so, and so I e-mailed them. What it the e-mail say? Well, I introduced myself, explained the story and invited everybody to join me for lunch. Luckily there were other people crazy enough to respond yes. :) We ended up with a group of five of us and we went to Marathon Grill. The conversation spanned from traveling for work to college life to absinthe (I really want to spell that word with a ‘y’…). I’ve got to tell you, I’m really glad that I did it. And we all had a pretty good time. My next idea? A pancake lunch. Now I just need to figure out how to make this happen.

The next networking event was speed networking – a lot like the concept of speed dating. Here’s a note to everybody out there: bring business cards to this event. I thought of it probably 3 or 4 times that morning and somehow, I walked down stairs to the event without business cards. (Not surprised.) Instead of male/female we divided it up by two different halves of the company. Being forced to talk to people for 4 minutes is kind of awesome – it’s just enough time that you can find out some cool things, but not enough time that there’s awkward pauses. Now the question is will I remember all of their names on Monday to actually stay in touch with some of them. We’ll see…