By KaShawn Archer
By Jupiterimages, Brand X Pictures

Working together with other students in your major can benefit your academic and professional careers.

Many students have already decided what they plan to study upon entering college. No matter what major you declare, there is one commonality among all degree-reaching students: You will take courses specifically designed for your major. It is in these courses that you will notice peers with similar career goals who will reappear time and time again. The constant presence, interaction and comparable career interests shared between classmates often serves as the stepping stone to many college friendships.

These friendships, however, don’t always come without friction. The state of the U.S. job market, as well as rising student loan debt, has created more competition than ever before when it comes to post-college security. The students who we’ve befriended in our major are also our competition. For many, this serves as a problem. On a college campus it is difficult to separate “business and pleasure,” but with the right methods and boundaries it can be done.

Create an ally not an enemy.

The great thing about getting to know people in your major is they are a built-in campus network. Everyone is hunting for the same internships, recommendations and opportunities. When one of your classmates comes across a few paid internships in your concentration, you want to make sure you’re on the receiving end of that information. When you get stuck on an assignment, a friend who has already taken the course can assist you.

Highlight the benefits of friendships within the major by joining forces. No one understands what you’re going through more than the peers that share your major.

Let your work speak for itself.

Do your best. Focusing on doing the best work for yourself diminishes the time you spend paying attention to what others are doing. Although you want to maintain a friendship, you don’t have to share every goal you have for your career. If your professor approaches you about an internship he or she thinks you are perfect for, don’t feel compelled to let your friend in on it right away, especially if it’s something a mentor meant specifically for you.

Start a joint venture.

Working together could provide an outlet where both friends benefit professionally. If you both wish to have a successful radio show and interview major artists, co-host a college program together and use the connections you’ve both built to snag big interviews. You can put the experience on your resume, plus you’ll be spending time with a friend. Starting an on-campus club or community service project together are some other great ways to work together.

Define your career differences.

Just because you have the same major doesn’t mean you want to do the exact same thing. Define those differences and try to focus on helping each other in areas that don’t clash. If you’re a mass communications major, you can help your friend find PR opportunities while they help you build your journalism portfolio by assisting in researching for a local news story. There are many things you can do individually within the same major.

Don’t compare your journey to your peers’.

This is probably the most important point. We usually compare our lives to those of our friends and that increases when you share the same major. Everyone’s journey is different. Don’t feel discouraged when your friend lands the job you were hoping for or wins an award you were both in the running to get. Congratulate them and use that as motivation. A motivational speaker at Claflin University once said, “Don’t be upset when your neighbor is having success. That just means success is in your neighborhood.”

A non-competitive friendship with someone in your major isn’t difficult with the right approach. The lifelong bond college students are known to form could benefit your professional career in the long run. A friend over a foe will surely work to your advantage.

KaShawn Archer attends Midlands Technical College and is mass communications major transferring to Claflin University in the Spring. She runs KNOWnameblog.com, a blog focused on keeping it’s readers in the KNOW about all things urban entertainment-related. She’s a pop culture enthusiast that also follows politics and is obsessed with True Blood. Follow her on Twitter.

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