Small Girl Meets Corporate World
Written by: Becca Hartlieb
Towering at 4’11,” I am commonly mistaken for a 12-year-old. It’s true; I haven’t grown since the 6th grade so I can’t blame people. “How’s middle school treating you?” is a question to which I’ve become accustomed. Bouncers on Frenchman have laughed in my face until my dad (a frequent NOLA visitor) explained that indeed I am 21. While it can be extremely amusing to mess with people (my pastimes include yelling “MOM & DAD” while running through large crowds to get a prime spot at the front), when navigating the corporate world, my height has become quite the challenge.
The Initial Shock
After a few in-person meetings, I’ve realized that tall men are especially taken aback by my small stature. I, too, find myself more nervous when reaching up to shake the hand of anyone over 5’5,” but come on, people. To combat my nervousness, I have recently incorporated two rituals into my pre-interview/meeting agenda.
First, I always include a sassy-cute anecdote about my height, either via email, in my résumé, or on an application. It adds personality and also serves as a delicate warning. If they don’t find it endearing, we aren’t meant to work together.
The second is a mantra I repeat to myself, “While my height may be deficient, I promise my personality and skills are not.” You can consider this my version of the Wonder Woman pose, but a bit less noticeable. It helps me convey confidence with whomever I may be meeting. Working with a variety of clients and media, a large part of our communication is virtual, so I make sure to have my A-game (and a taller heel) on during the first in-person meeting.
Dressing the Part
Stylish petite clothing and shoes (don’t get me started) are hard enough to come by, but the additional challenge arises when I also have to look professional. A question I often face: how short is too short for a skirt when my legs are only two feet? I’m still looking for answers. And while pants are a seemingly great option, it’s not always cost-effective to pay someone to hack off half of the material for which you’ve just paid a premium price. My favorite places to shop include ASOS petite and Zara Kids. Those European kids are stylin’. As a college student, I love that ASOS and Zara are inexpensive, and so does my bank account. I am also someone who always picks out my outfit the night before work, and dressing the part gives me something to look forward to in the mornings.
Occasionally, we all fall short (hah get it?). In any new position, there is a definite learning curve. Working in a plethora of industries throughout high school and college, I’ve learned that the best way to avoid falling short is to ask questions. Obviously, this task can be daunting but it helps clarify details, that, if not answered, could cause monumental mistakes. Here at Gambel Communications, there are systems in place to make asking questions easier. We are constantly emailing one another to check in and brainstorm about new projects and clients.
Being short has its challenges, but over time I am learning not to let my size define me. I’d love to hear about your greatest challenges when joining the corporate world! Comment below!