By: Karen Freberg, @kfreberg
You see these individuals pretty regularly for each of your classes. These are the team members you have as part of your capstone final project before you graduate. They are probably one of the most important groups of individuals you want to establish a professional relationship with. Who are these individuals? These are the people you see every three or two times a week over the course of several years. Who am I talking about? I am talking about your fellow classmates.
Yes, I said Essentially, along with your advisors, professors, and internship supervisors, your fellow classmates are more than just someone who is in the same major and taking the same classes. They are probably your biggest opportunity to network and establish a long term professional relationship.
So, what are the benefits of establishing a professional relationship with your fellow classmates for the future?
- These individuals are highly motivated and are in your field: Whether you are going into sports PR or social media and sports, all of these fields are highly competitive and everyone has the same interests. Plus, it is a pretty small field and you are more than likely going to run into them at some point, so it is good to have these connections in motion.
- You have a built in community that will last after graduation: You will always be connected in some way with your fellow classmates in college because you were all part of the program. Your cohort can serve as a great resource and community for years to come. You have shared experiences in certain classes, momentous occasions for the university (ex. national championship), and living in a community and being part of a university for a certain period of time. No one else could understand what you went through, but your classmates and cohort can.
- They have “lived it”: You and your fellow classmates have had somewhat of the same experiences in classes, activities, internships, and opportunities in and outside of class. You share a bond and are able to relate to them with these experiences, which in turn can enhance the overall professional relationship you have with them in class and after graduation.
- Classmates can teach you a lot about professional relationships and team work: Fellow students can give you some real-world experiences before you enter the job market. From being able to work in teams, managing difficult situations to accomplish a set goal, working through different personalities and schedules, and overcoming major obstacles. Coming together as a team can teach you what you need to be able to do in the workplace.
- Peer mentoring opportunities: The opportunities to have a peer mentor with a classmates are enormous. Look at who you can learn from and who is willing to take the time to help, share, and provide guidance for you professionally. Some of your fellow classmates have had some amazing professional opportunities and probably would be happy to share what they learned from their experience. Mentorship is not only for professors and internship/job supervisors. We can learn from any one and your classmates can be an excellent resource.
- You are building your professional rolodex of contacts: Make sure to spend the time to get to know your fellow classmates and what they are interested in. Some may be heading into your field but others may have a different path in mind. It’s all about maintaining those connections over time.
- Overall, make sure to spend some time chatting and getting to know your fellow classmates. These are going to be future professionals you will know in the field and could be a great resource for you in the future. I am still in touch with classmates from each of my three universities and it is exciting to see their professional journeys in the field and be able to connect with them in real-time, thanks to social media.