Classmates vs Coworkers

Coworkers, just like your classmates, are key to a lot of your successes and enjoyment at work.  As vital as it is to have a great relationship with your manager, your coworkers may hold just as much weight in terms of the amount and time and effort you assert in cultivating the relationship.

What I’ve found is my coworkers help get me through the day - we chat and laugh and discuss issues we are having with business partners or projects.  If I was not able to do this with my coworkers, I would probably go insane.  Your coworkers are an outlet for you, for a few reasons:

  • You share similar problems and can commiserate over them together
  • They have access to people at the company that you do not have access to, providing additional opportunities for networking
  • They are likely at a similar pay-grade and can relate to you better
  • You are working on the same projects

How similar does that sound to your experiences as an undergrad?  Your classmates were going through the same things as you were - exams, interviews, projects, etc.  I am certain you commiserated with these people about the accounting class and how it was nearly impossible to get a good grade.  And I know you have been placed on a project with others before and were forced to connect with them.  Since you have done this as an undergrad, you can connect similarly with your coworkers in Corporate America.

How do you build a stronger relationship with your coworkers?  Be open with them.  Hold conversations and ask them what they did that weekend or if they watch your favorite TV show.  If you have a problem or a question, ask one of the more senior members on your team for their input.  I am sure they will be more than happy to assist.  

The main thing that slowed my growth at work once I started was not being open with my coworkers.  It is so important to open up to your coworkers, just as you did with your college friends and classmates.  Imagine being in class with someone in college and sitting next to them for a full year and not opening up to them or finding any common ground.  That sounds miserable, right?  While the stakes and the situation are different in Corporate America, thinking about it with that mindset will help you accelerate your relationships with coworkers.  This will ensure you are more comfortable with them and vice versa.

Having strong connections with your coworkers will help you in the long-run.  Yes, it is crucial for you to connect with your manager and make sure they know you are a strong performer, but your coworkers will vouch for you when the time is right.  They may even contribute to writing your year-end review.  Plus, having someone to laugh and share stories with everyday makes it that much more enjoyable to come into the office. 

Thought Starters

  • What ways can you initiate a conversation with a coworker to further a personal connection?
  • Who has been an important personal contact to you that you made in undergrad and why?