You see these individuals pretty regularly in each of your classes. They are probably one of the most important groups of individuals to establish a professional relationship with.
Who are these individuals? Your fellow classmates.
Essentially, along with your advisors, professors and internship supervisors, your fellow classmates are more than just people in the same major.
They are probably your biggest opportunity to network and establish long-term, professional relationships.
Here are the reasons why:
1. These individuals are highly motivated and in your field.
Whether you're going into PR or social media, the job market is highly competitive and everyone has the same interests.
If someone is in the same field, you're more than likely going to run into him or her at some point, so it's good to have these connections in motion.
2. You have a built-in community to last after graduation.
You will always be connected in some way to your fellow classmates because you were all part of the same program.
Your cohorts can serve as a great resource and community for years to come.
You have shared experiences in certain classes, momentous occasions for the university (eg. national championships) and have gone through difficulties together.
Only they can understand what you've been through.
3. They have “lived it.”
You and your fellow classmates have had somewhat of the same experiences in classes, activities and internships.
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.
4. Classmates can teach you a lot about professional relationships and teamwork.
Your fellow students can give you some real world experience before you enter the job market.
From being able to work in teams to managing difficult situations, to working through different personalities and schedules to overcome major obstacles, you learn how to handle yourself in the workplace.
5. You have several opportunities for peer mentoring.
The opportunities to have a peer mentor as a classmate 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 have learned from their experience.
Mentorship is not only for professors and internship supervisors. We can learn from anyone, and your classmates can be an excellent resource.
6. You are building your professional Rolodex of contacts.
Make sure to spend some time getting to know your fellow classmates and what they're 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 they could definitely be a great resource for you in the future.
I'm still in touch with classmates from each of my three universities, and it has been really exciting to see their professional journeys in the field.