I often try to articulate the balance between a personal and professional relationship, and the need to keep one at home and one at the office. But what happens when it's manifested in one person? Or even one interaction? How do I achieve that balance when my next Bumble match could be my next coworker?
This summer, I am enrolled in a USC online internship seminar that is supposed to enhance what I am getting out of my unpaid internship. Whether or not that is true can be deliberated in a later post.
In the not-yet-published textbook for the course, a chapter on networking warns us amateur readers to beware of the "Christmas Party gone badly":
Co-workers are having a great time at a local catering hall or restaurant. As dinner is finished and the wine disappears, the ice melts and people begin to get comfortable. More wine disappears and the gloves come off. Someone says something embarrassing, someone else starts singing karaoke, and suddenly someone is dancing on the table. In the short term, it is all fun; but reputations are earned and remembered that can create insurmountable barriers when promotions are decided.
Besides transcribing every cringeworthy Michael Scott fiasco, this warning made me think about celebrating Capital Pride last weekend. I went to the Parade with other interns in my program and supervisors and professional staff of the Religious Action Center, where I am also taking an internship seminar and is the home-base of my summer program.
I celebrate Pride LOUDLY and UNAPOLOGETICALLY. Because of this, my attire may have appeared inappropriate around such important professionals in my life and my future. However, the social climate of the event made this seem far less incriminating. No one expressed disapproval, in fact many were inspired and energized by my ensemble. But that climate is only in the short term – images of my "underboob," my tattoos, and running through the streets with a flag as a cape can forever plague me when my supervisors sit in their office debating whether to write me a letter of recommendation for graduate school.
I am still confident that having been surrounded by social-justice-oriented people who were also actively engaging in Capital Pride is not something to fear for future professional recommendations or interactions. However, regularly operating in a world where I am trying to build a meaningful career in social advocacy, I do not know where my line lies.