by Jilleen Barrett, A&E Editor & Managing Editor
Who is the most powerful woman in the room? It’s you.
Lydia Fenet convinced me this was true over the summer when I read her book, aptly titled “The Most Powerful Woman in the Room is You”. Entering the workplace is intimidating, especially for women as there continues to be a debate over where a woman’s place is. In Fenet’s book, she convinces her readers that there are many places for women, and they can be strong leaders in all of them.
Fenet convinced me of this during my two-week break between final exams at the end of the spring semester and the start of my first full-time internship in the city. While the book does seem to reflect an attitude of being a “girl boss,” a mentality which I find only separates men and women in the workplace more, Fenet does have a way of showing her readers they can be successful and strong even if they feel wary of standing up for themselves. Some of the topics she discusses are how to negotiate a raise, how to develop your professional leadership skills and how to handle last-minute situations at a job and still look like you have it together.
One of my favorite parts of the book was when she wrote about how she showed an employer that she was the best candidate for a position, even though all of the spots for her desired internship had been filled. Fenet writes a lot about her career in New York at Christie’s, an auction company where she currently serves as Global Managing Director as well as a lead charity auctioneer, though her book can be applied to many different types of work.
When Fenet was a college student, she became interested in art and decided to see if she could obtain a spot in the internship program at Christie’s. All of the positions were filled, but when she asked why they could not accept one more person, they informed her of the field trips they had already paid for which only included a certain number of interns. Fenet volunteered to skip the field trips and work in the office every day, making them an offer they could not refuse. She worked her way up in the company from here.
Fenet kept in touch with her superiors at Christie’s after her internship was over. She updated them on her education and her career goals, which reminded them of how dedicated she was to her job during that summer. Because she had maintained the connection, they communicated with her about an entry-level job she could fill once she graduated. She was strategic in her planning and relentless in her efforts to get hired, and she wants you to know that you can do the same in your field of work.
Fenet’s book guided me through an internship this summer, which was important to me because I wanted to start the position knowing that I could not only do my best work but also convince my superiors that I would be employable after college. If you’re curious about how you can be the best version of yourself going into your next job or internship, you should read this book.