I was so excited to step onto the University of Washington
my freshman year.
And I was also a little nervous. I was intimidated by the size of the University of Washington. My first class at the UW was Comparative Politics and there were 200 students in the class. My second class was Math 111 and there was 400 students in that class. And beyond the classroom, I was one out of about 6,000 freshman on campus.

I realize now that one of my biggest hurdles in school was making friends and building a community on campus. It’s easy to feel like just another number on a college campus. It wasn’t until my freshman year spring quarter that I actually felt like I belonged to the University of Washington community.

 So I wanted to dedicate this post today to any college students looking to make new friends on campus.

 

Here are 7 Places to Make Friends in College

1. Freshmen Interest Groups

If there are freshmen specific classes offered to help you transition to college, I’d recommend taking them! At UW, we had freshmen interest groups (figs). These were two credit classes that covered the ins and outs of university life. Everyone starts on the same boat – everyone is a freshman and is trying to navigate their way through classes.

I joined a fig my freshman year and ended up taking the rest of the pre-requisite classes to the business school with a handful of them. I’m still friends with some of my classmates from my fig today!

2. Your Dorm or Fraternity/Sorority

If you’re a freshman, you may not realize it yet but your life-long friend could literally be down the hall. Whether you’re in the greek system or in a dorm, don’t be afraid to make friends with your neighbors. Ask
your neighbors if they want to grab lunch or dinner in the dining hall. Or if you take any classes together, go sit by them in class. Or even ask them to explore the city or town with you.

3. Attend School Events – like Football games!

A great way to meet friends is to attend school events. If there are any events like concerts or fairs that happen before school starts, find a friend on your floor and head to those events. Or attend the sporting events on campus. It’s always fun to watch a sport especially if you played in high school or have friends on the sports teams.

I especially loved going to football games! The atmosphere on campus during a game day is amazing.  It’s fun to get dressed up in your school apparel and tailgating!

 

4. Your College Classes

I’d recommend to always make a friend in class because it’s nice to exchange notes if one of you misses class. It’s also nice to be able to study with a friend. If you have no friends in your class, try turning to your neighbor and introducing yourself.

5. Intramural Teams or a Workout Classes

Joining an intramural teams or signing up for a work out class is a great way to stay active and meet friends. I recommend looking up what your intramurals sports and work out classes your college gym offers. In undergrad, I signed up to take hip hop classes, a weights class, ballet, and Pilates! I would sign up for those classes all over again if I could!

 

6. Join a club

If you’re interested in fashion or skiing or even the environment, chances are there is a club on campus that you can join. And if there isn’t, you should create your own club!

Advice if you’re looking for a club to join: At the University of Washington, I would search what current clubs are listed on the Student Activities Office website. I would also look at what clubs are out there that are related to your major. When I went to the business school, there were so many different types of clubs to join – Husky Sales Club, UW AMA, accounting focused clubs, and more.

7. Get involved in leadership

There are so many ways to take on leadership roles on campus. I highly recommend exploring your interests, joining a community aligned with those interests, and then moving into a leadership role in the organization or club. The experiences you get from leading a community on campus will be valuable to you well beyond after your graduate.

If you’re currently at the University of Washington: Explore the organizations in ASUW (Associate Students of the University of Washington), the dance teams, or other interest or ethnic groups on campus.

Personally, my favorite experiences in my undergrad were co-organizing the TEDxUofW conference and running the Victoria’s Secret PINK team as a Campus Representative!

Where did you meet your college friends? And what advice do you have to any college students out there for making new friends?

Thank you for reading!

Love,

Emma

Photos: Holly Phan

Do you have a mentor to talk to about your career? Or are you looking for one?

Atmy first internship at Boeing, my team paired me with my mentor. She helped me find the bathrooms, the cafeteria, and also led me through my team’s processes.
I got to shadow her all summer long and by the time I left back for school, I understood where my team fit in the larger picture of the Boeing Company.

As a 20 year old intern heading into my junior year, I really looked up to her. She had just completed her MBA and had been with the company the last 5 years. She also taught pilates and ran marathons. She showed me a glimpse of how my future after I graduated from college. 

So why should you have a mentor?

Whether you’re an intern or 10 years into your career, having a mentor can be incredibly helpful to your career. Mentors are an incredible resource and one of the most valuable things you get from a mentor/mentee relationship is their perspective and advice.

Earlier this year, I turned to one of my current mentors and let her know that I was thinking about leaving my finance rotation program to stay in my current project management role. She encouraged me to follow my instincts. This week I permanently transferred into my project management role! 

Mentors can also help you connect with people with other functions or parts of the company. If you’re interested in moving into a management role or learning more about a creative role, mentors can help you find someone to talk to.

Mentors can also help you navigate the workplace culture, politics, or help you learn how to work with different management/work styles.

And lastly, mentors can help you explore your career, lend advice about school, and your passions. All the tips in this post can be used to find a mentor in any context.


 

Before you find a mentor:

First take a step back and reflect on your career goals.

 

  1. What do you want to be doing in your next role?
  2. What’s your one year, 3 year, 5 year, or even 10 year plan?
  3. What roles are you interested in your company?
  4. Do you see yourself becoming an expert in your field? Or a path to management?

 

Now that you have a better idea of where you’re at in your career, here are a few ways to look for a mentor:

4 Ways to Find a Mentor  

 1. Explore your current network

Reach out to your manager and your current team and let them know you’re interested in finding a mentor. Or reach out to former professors or previous work teams you’ve been on. Or even let your friends know that you’re looking for a mentor. Chances are, someone in your network may know someone whose either looking for a mentee or has previously been a mentor before.

2. Explore your external network

Update your LinkedIn and search people with job titles that sound interesting to you. You can even search people in a specific industry or company.

3. Schedule Informational Interviews

Once you’ve identified people you want to reach out to, ask them for an informational interview. You’ll want to make sure that person has capacity and interest in being a mentor. Here is how to schedule an informational interview.

4. Join a mentor/mentee program

You should see if your employer offers any mentorship programs at work. Or research any professional organizations within your city to see if they offer any mentor programs. One advantage of joining a mentorship program is that all of the people who are participating want a mentee or mentor to connect with.


 

After you find a mentor, here are
three things you need to establish:

Meeting Cadence: How often do you and your mentor want to meet?
Weekly? Monthly? Quarterly?

How You Want To Meet: Face to face or over the phone?

Meeting Topic: What do you want to talk to your mentor about?

Maybe you want to grow your network or learn about other functions around the company. Regardless of the reasons you wanted a mentor, here are some suggested questions to help you navigate your mentor/mentee conversations:

Your mentor can help you develop, grow your network, and give perspective in your career and educational choices.

 

Questions to ask during your mentor/mentee meetings:

 

DEVELOPMENT:

  • How should I develop my weaknesses? Develop my strengths?
  • What interpersonal or technical skills should I focus on developing?
  • What roles would you recommend next?
  • Are there any leadership opportunities you are aware of?

EDUCATION:

  • What are your thoughts about getting an MBA or a master’s degree in this specific field?
  • Are there any certificate programs you have taken that you would recommend?

NETWORK:

  • Looking into a new role?
    • Example: “I’m interested in this role at this organization, do you have any contacts you’d recommend I can reach out to for an informational interview? I want to learn more about this role/speak to a hiring manager.”
  • Looking to learn about other functions – sales, marketing, finance, etc?
    • Example: “I’m interested in these organizations are there any individuals you would suggest I reach out to?

LIFE:

  • Sharing a TED Talk topic is a great way to connect. (Examples: leadership, perseverance, failure, etc.)
  • What books or podcasts have you read or listened to that you would recommend?
  • Can you please go over my resume for this role?
  • What is your advice to creating goals?
  • How do you balance having a family and a career?
  • Keep it Casual: Spring break or summer vacation plans? How is the family doing?

What are your tips on finding a mentor? 

 

Thank you for reading!

Love,
Emma

Photos: Holly Phan