Get To Know Your Peers

 I overheard an interesting conversation during my last week at work in September that left me scratching my head. The rest of the dialogue is mostly irrelevant, but it ended with one guy saying to the other, “Hey, get it straight – we are coworkers, not friends.” He did not mean it to be rude, but that is certainly how it comes across to me. Moreover, why do the two have to be mutually exclusive? In my opinion, the same goes for classmates. You know you will be spending a great deal of time with the same group of people (especially in a program like the SMF, where all four autumn quarter classes are taken together), so why not get to know them on a more personal level.

I firmly believe that my experience has been enhanced by getting to know my peers outside the classroom. Some of this is through organized events, which I think are great ideas. Many students in the SMF program have expressed their enjoyment from the Summit Vision trip from the beginning of the year. Although some of the activities had a business world undertone, this set the stage for getting students to interact with one another outside of an academic environment. Throughout the quarter, interactions between many of us shifted from strictly school-related to more social in nature.

Another great event was the happy hour at Hampton’s where all Fisher grad students were in attendance, and the SMF students met there a couple hours early to have our own private party. I recall a fellow classmate saying how happy and surprised he was that almost none of the conversation was revolved around school. The same can be said for our end of the quarter dinner at Bravo. Even with professors in attendance, I overheard very little academic discussion. Although there are clearly a number of fantastic organized activities, there is still a bit of a “school-related function” tag to it.

Shedding this tag has been relatively easy and enjoyable. A handful of us have been playing pick-up basketball together, and I know of others doing the same with soccer. I had the luxury of being with my family, but I know a number of students got together and spent Thanksgiving together. I attended a Christmas party last week with a few people. And I am sure I am not the only person who has shared a few beverages on weekends with classmates.

While this may seem like a bunch of rambling about my interactions with SMF counterparts (basically, it is), it is meant to urge people to embrace getting to know their peers. It can be very simple, but you have to put forth a little effort. Everyone has a busy schedule, and unless you are new to an area, your own circle of friends. I encourage everyone to break out of that comfort zone. Having friends for colleagues makes work more bearable and at times even enjoyable. The same sentiment applies in the working world. If nothing else, it is a great excuse to hit a happy hour.