The last couple of weeks we have contacted former EBS students, and while most of them had pretty colorful careers so far, one particular 29-year old Dane truly took the cake by what he called “the bartending and fishbowl career”. Kristian’s story is amazing in the sense that he entered a difficult industry through a seemingly unrelated job (bartending), and somehow convinced us that it was all a walk in the park for him. Below you will find a transcript of our conversation. Initially, Kristian learned about EBS after our first location opened up in the Mediterranean, and he had just come out of high-school:
“I figured if I was going to take up a student loan, I might regret it later in life when it is time to invest in something else, so I wanted to make good money throughout Uni instead. As EBS Copenhagen was just setting up shop at the time, things seem to converge for me in Copenhagen somehow, and I took the only course available back then, the international 4-week bartending course. That 4-week period also gave me the opportunity to scout the city, and look for potential employers, until I found a dive near Nørregade. And for a while it was great. I managed to balance shifts and studying for the courses, but financially I wasn’t really getting anywhere.”
“Things changed in my second year when a regular customer of our bar offered me to stop working there to join his new bar in the meatpacking district. I was consumed by my studies, working hard on my candidatus, but at the same time, a lot of lawyers found their way into our establishment, which connected well with the in-crowd and successful urban professionals.”
“Maybe it was my cocktail skills, but in all fairness, most of the guys down there were great tippers too. So as a bartender, you try to keep everyone happy by giving out shots here and there, acknowledging regular visitors and chit-chatting away in the early hours. And it was great! I mean, I studied during the daytime, then walked into a hive of lawyers during my shifts. I think it is the typical lawyer thing-to-do, to try and connect with other lawyers, but it definitely worked for me. Plus, I was making more than enough money to support myself.”
“People like to walk into a bar and be recognized by the staff, it’s a simple as that. I collected a lot of business cards in that period, and they all ended up in an old fishbowl I kept in my dormitory. Once I started to get close to my thesis I remember discussing possible subjects I could tackle with the customers more than I did with the other students, which made a lot of sense at the time.”
Kristian looking back
“In retrospect, that has been the most crucial moment in my career, because after the degree I had a way in with some of the most prestigious law firms in the city. They knew who I was, and while my grades were okay, I think it’s been the human factor that made all the difference.”
Kristian not only managed to graduate Copenhagen University without a student loan, he also circumvented the entire job- and headhunting circus, connecting with resourceful attorneys and lawyers on the job. By playing his cards right, and keeping a fishbowl in his dormitory, he careered himself in a position that would normally take years.