All in all, a pretty busy week at Midori House. There were some highs – both emotional and physical, with one of my radio interviews taking me up 31 floors of London’s Shard in an automated lift – and some rather enlightening lows. I’d probably say that it’s been my favourite week of the internship so far, and that in no small part was caused by working at a normal time for the vast majority of the week.
Sunday was somewhat stunted, owing to my twin decisions to stay at home in Cambridge for as long as possible, and to work the early shift on Monday morning. I hopped out of bed in the dark of the night, cold and vaguely miserable, but safe in the knowledge that I was standing on the cusp of my final ever early shift. I was set on moving to the magazine for two and a half weeks from Wednesday. Work was relatively uneventful, and I wrapped up my work at half 1, ready to begin prepping for my interview in the afternoon for a position as the communications assistant for the UNHCR – the United Nations High Commission for Refugees, in London. By the time the interview came around I was probably 6 espresso dobles deep, red-eyed, and pushing Right Guard’s ’48 hours of freshness’ claims to the limit.
One thing that I’ve become more and more aware of as I do more interviews – as both the interviewer and the interviewee – is how important the initial 5 seconds are once you meet, and the need to adapt your persona when meeting in different contexts. In essence, my failure to be employed at the UNHCR can probably be boiled down to a failure to ‘pitch’ myself correctly, I think. The object of an interview in my head has always been to be likeable and relatable, in order to come across as human and ultimately worthy of someone’s trust. You want them to feel at ease within the conversation. But in certain settings, this ease is achieved by declaring yourself competent first, and then likeable second. Some people respond instantly to casual banter, and others – depending on the setting – need to be shown respect and talent first. Often this is simply a question of age and profession, but I’ve found it amongst people that are the same age as me and working in the same field.
Still, live and learn. I wasn’t chosen by the UNHCR, but it was a great to get back in the interviewing game after 2 months in the comforting wilderness of an internship.
Feeling somewhat sorry for myself, I got into work on time on Tuesday – 8am, ready for the rarified day shift – and was thrust into the media unveiling of the plans for a second runway at Gatwick airport. A couple of the Monocle producers were tied up with doing other stuff, so they sent me along to catch the free croissants and mocktails and to pretend that I was one of the press pack. There I was – sneakers, mustard parka, skinny jeans – sat in a literal room of suits. I mean, if ever you were to be like ‘the suits, man!’, that room would’ve been it. High flying business(wo)men, relatively well known journos, politicians. Money. Those dudes were probably thinking, ‘Damn. That kid looks comfy AF’. And, like, yeah. I was super comfy.
Anyway, I sat through the rather dry presentation given by the team bidding for the additional runway at Gatwick – where was the Prezi? – entertaining myself by casting a glance through the Shard’s 15ft windows every so often. From where I was sat I could see London Bridge’s spindly train lines fire off in every direction. I could see most of London’s monuments. And I could see the rather miserable fog hanging over it all. I knew, though, that at 25 quid a trip, that was probably the last time for a long while that I would be on top of London. So I soaked it in.
After the presentation I hung around with the press corps and spoke to both the CEO of Gatwick Airport and design brains Terry Farrell. You can hear my interview with the latter here (skip to 32 mins):
Then on Wednesday I was asked if I’d be able to go and interview somebody for the weekly show on Urbanism, ‘The Urbanist’. The week’s focus was on ‘freedom’, so I was sent to interview the man that bestows the ‘Freedom of the City’ on people with an extensive link to London. Back in the day, the honour gave you the right to march sheep over London Bridge – actually I think it still technically does – but the award is now largely ceremonial. Skip to 45 mins here to hear this chipper, quintessentially old dude talk about Bagpipes and mutton:
So I was a hired hand / voice a couple of times that week. Felt good to be useful!