Students Would Rather Learn From Their Coworkers Than Befriend Them



When it comes to their careers, college students care more about finding coworkers who could help them professionally than they do about making friends. 

That’s the finding of a new survey conducted by College Pulse. Of the 1,500 U.S. students polled, an overwhelming majority (93 percent) said having colleagues they could learn from plays an important role in their decision of where to work. 

Students are not against making friends at the office, though. In fact, 58 percent said it’s somewhat important and 18 percent said it’s very important that they can see themselves befriending potential coworkers when interviewing for a full-time job. 

And nearly two-thirds of students reported wanting to work somewhere where employees socialize with each other outside of work hours. 

But for students on the job hunt, a lack of coworker camaraderie wouldn’t necessarily be a deal breaker. Eighty-two percent of the students surveyed said they would accept a full-time position in their area of interest that offered a good salary even if they didn’t think they would fit in socially with their coworkers.

And 79 percent said they would still accept such a job after hearing more than one negative story about their potential coworkers.

The value of lifelong learning

Students’ desire to learn from their coworkers may be a product of the times, as they’re increasingly advised to become “lifelong learners.” 

And for help picking up a new skill or concept, those already in the workforce are turning to their coworkers at high rates — more often than they turn to Google, YouTube or their corporate training programs, according to a separate study conducted by the company Degreed. The authors of this study call this concept “peer-to-peer learning.” 

“Peer-to-peer learning taps into the expertise that already exists in your organization,” they wrote in an article published in Harvard Business Review. 

“Peer-to-peer learning is also uniquely well suited to the way we learn,” they added. “People gain new skills best in any situation that includes all four stages of what we call the ‘Learning Loop’: gain knowledge; practice by applying that knowledge; get feedback; and reflect on what has been learned. Peer-to-peer learning encompasses all of these.”

Today’s workers are also known for frequent job-hopping, which may also play a role in students’ desire to learn from their co-workers rather than befriend them. 

Although building friendships can be important for networking purposes and may help land job seekers their next opportunity, the most sustainable way to keep up with changes in the workplace and climb the career ladder is by constantly gaining knowledge and experience

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