When you were in college, you probably felt like college life was never going to end. You felt untouchable, invincible, that you could do anything you wanted (well, at least that’s the way I felt). And then you graduated. Yes, and everything changed! EVERYTHING!
What happens after college? Suddenly, your friends are all dispersed across the globe, you have to start hunting for jobs, and most importantly you’ve moved to a place where you absolutely don’t know anyone and will have to start making friends again. Oops!
When I was growing up, I didn’t pay a lot of attention to the concept of “building relationships” and part of the reason was that I wasn’t very approachable or social. In school, my friends were my classmates and dorm mates, and in college, it seemed like I met people everywhere I went.
While attending college, I never really had to think about building and maintaining relationships. They simply came about as a result of living on a college campus surrounded by almost 2,000 students. However, the working world is not a college campus. The ingredients that lead to lifelong friends at college do not normally exist in a workplace, and I think it is almost ironic that at a time in your life when relationships have never been more important, they’ve never been harder to build.
From what I’ve seen, building relationships early on is the key to kicking off a successful career. Here’s what I think about relationships. I think these two things are always true for maintaining both personal and professional relationships, and that it also gives a good foundation to a relationship.
1. Relationshipsare founded on generosity:
You always gain from investing your time in others, whether it be volunteering, donating money or simply helping out a friend. During college, I met most of my best friends through rotary. Rotary wasn’t just a platform to meet and network with people, but it also helped me contribute whatever little I could to the society.
At first, it may seem like building meaningful relationships with those who surround you is a simple concept, but I have found that when I’m not being mindful of it, it is actually very difficult to do so.
Like most things, being thoughtful is where things start, but only time, interaction, dedication and a whole lot of reading can ensure that I consistently turn my good intentions into actions.
Adopting this mindset, I don’t just meet people with the intention of getting something out of them, but also helping them benefit in return. I strongly believe that all relationships are mutual. I try my best to listen to others, pay attention to what is going on in their lives and look for opportunities to solve a problem for them. Even if it is something as small as surprising a co-worker with coffee when I notice they’re particularly tired, I’ve learned that it is the unexpected moments of generosity that make the biggest impact.
2. Relationships are hard work:
Maintaining relationships in the working world is hard work, and creating new ones from scratch is even tougher. The abundance of free time and people to share it with that made making friends easy in college is now hard to come by. You absolutely have no time to socialize! If you think life after college is easy, let me just tell you, it absolutely isn’t! After graduation, new friends just don’t show up to your doorstep.
For those of you still in college, enjoy every minute of it, and for my fellow professionals, I’m sure you have at one point or another shared with me in the thought that everything was more fun in college. From my new perspective, I would argue that it was simply easier. College was a great time in my life, but now that I’m actually thinking about and investing in my relationships, I’ve never felt more fulfilled.
I say, now is the time to “Seize the Day”.
The first few years of life after college are your glimpse at the “real world” and truly, the bounce-board into the rest of your life. So jump right in— and enjoy every goddamn minute of it.
‘Cause this is it. It’s now or never.