Friendships in the Workplace

by Jenna Heath

I have found that most Student Affairs professionals are extremely outgoing individuals. I partially think it’s the nature of our field. Due to this inference, making friends out of your coworkers is usually a fairly easy task. However, as a Student Affairs First Year, I’m wondering if that’s always a good thing? Is there a line you shouldn’t cross? How does this even work? This isn’t a topic that you cover in your masters program, and your boss isn’t going to tell you how it works, so how do we figure this out?

I won’t pretend that I’m an expert on how to navigate your friendships in your workplace, however I will provide some personal anecdotes and maybe we can diagnose the issue together. I work in the Office of Admissions at University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV); our office has about 50 full time professionals and 60 student workers. I am closer in age to the student workers than I am the full time staff however this hasn’t held me back from making a lot of friendships within my office.

Specifically I am an out of state recruiter, on the out of state team there is 4 full time professionals: myself and two other out of state recruiters and the Associate Director of Out of State Recruitment (our boss). Now in the art of being transparent- we have a wonderful relationship on our team. We all get along well, however I have come to a recent conundrum.

My roommate (who also works at UNLV in Athletics) and I are throwing a Halloween party at our house. We LOVE the holidays and are both relatively new to Las Vegas, so we figured this was a great way to celebrate the beginning of the holiday season. My conundrum is that we have invited a few friends from my masters program, but mostly our coworkers… So we will obviously be having wonderful decorations at our party, delicious snacks, and a good amount of adult beverages. I’ve always felt uncomfortable drinking around other professionals, what if you do something stupid? What if they do something stupid? There is a lot of “what ifs” that come with alcohol… I of course invited the other members of the out of state recruitment team (aside from my boss) I feel okay about this, but I’m still a little on edge…

My roommate doesn’t seem to share all of the concerns that I have. She is an Assistant Coach, with one other Assistance Coach on their team as well as their Head Coach; they’re an extremely close group. They go to wine bars, they watch football together and go over game debriefing over a beer. I can’t possibly understand

I think we have all heard this or said it before: I spend more time at work and with my coworkers than I do with my fiancé, my parents, or my roommate. For this reason, I think friendships with our coworkers are vital to our sanity. Plus they understand us and everything that we deal with at work; those long nights, early mornings, helicopter parents… they get it. My fiancé that works as an Associate Producer for a sports TV show… he doesn’t always quite get it. I love him anyway… but sometimes you need that person to vent to that just gets it.

So here’s the real issue, I believe in real genuine friendships. So are my coworkers only my friends at work? Are we allowed to hang out outside of work? What about the people I report to, can I hang out with them? You see how this issue gets tough and complicated very quickly. I just want to be able to compartmentalize my friendships the way I do everything else in my life. Do I invite my coworkers to my Halloween party?

Student Affairs - the First Years

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