In a land where pubs and societies stir the social order, interactions prompt a distinguishable set of norms, codes, and etiquettes. Although sociologists have surprisingly yet failed to formally scholarise the St Andrews networking phenomenon, we concur that its eccentric particularities dominate the events scene.
Whether your favourite economist is giving a talk or you’ve caught wind of one of Law Soc’s ‘champagne receptions’, many societies provide the chance to network in a professional context. Key gestures dominate these interactions. As you engage in a musical chairs of polite conversation, the ‘vague glance across the room’ is possibly the best way to secure your next victim. To then lock them into deep discussion, you must perfect the delicate art of the quintessential St Andrews anecdote. If it is encouraged by a beckoning “yah”— then you are already doing it right. Just remember to mention the seven internships your dad has lined up for you this summer. This is a setting where tweed dominates the floor and Linkedin requests are the new ‘you up x’. They sharpen your networking muscles and foreshadow your time in any of the Big Four.
The least network-inducing spaces are your tutorials. You will never find yourself in a parallel more similar to the Love Island bombshell introductions than walking into your first session. Here, an obstructive silence and ambiguous looks dominate the scene as you realise you are now way too close for comfort to the guy in front of you at Shawarma last night.
Night outs launch the habitual carousel of boozy St Andrean interactions. In the Vic smoking area, you exchange instagram handles with the classic distant ‘friend of a friend’ whilst you vigorously debate how many people away you are from the DJ. The Union bathrooms are the ideal place for the devoted, emotional re-encounter with the ‘you lived across the hall in first year’. You then fervently cherish those transient days of freshers week where you two were inseparable (you coordinated breakfast times). These allow you and your acquaintances to rejoice in a momentary lapse of profound reconnection, ultimately devoid of sober meaning.
If you’re not quite set on a political inclination – worry not – a Tuesday or Thursday networking night at the self-proclaimed ‘intellectual hub’ of Aikman’s will sort you out. Hunched around the cellar bar you will likely become accustomed to a shrewd specimen known as the ‘Aikmans regular’. Though unfortunately few have lived to tell the tale, legend claims that it involves profound theorising over their pints of Ayinger.
An alternative option of pub networking could leave you scrambling to try – and fail – to get a table at the bustling locale of Mollys. Aside from the Pret queue, one can detect few freshers hotspots of such calibre. Your networking efforts will most probably be interrupted by overhearing an awkward “What hall are you in?” followed by an even more cumbersome “What’s your Regs allergy?”. These oddities underpin our nicher breeds of St Andrews networking, yet it is our duty to embrace them all with equal enthusiasm.
The most complex thread of networking is that of the impromptu and unrehearsed. Sheer panic becomes all-consuming as you realise that last night’s hookup is merely two treadmills apart, or lingering on the Tesco aisle adjacent to the frozen pasta bake you so desperately needed. Now, any and all contact here made must be approached with unwavering caution. It is a pivotal point in establishing where the nature of a relationship’s continuity stands. You pick your weapon – a nod, a smile, a chat perhaps? In these predicaments, silence serves as candid confession and un-acknowledgement becomes all telling.
You will find that your time in St Andrews will lead you to evolve new habits of interaction to fit the esoteric networking situations that shape our social experiences. Whether it be seeing someone at a fashion show or making a friend on the X59 – the ways we encounter new people and progress these relationships will (hopefully) prosper throughout our later lives. Yet, an obstinate St Andrean trace will remain.
Illustration: Hannah Beggerow