I can’t count the number of phone calls I’ve had with friends since graduating that revolve around the difficulty of starting a new job. When we graduated from university last year, we knew it would be tough to begin our careers, but we had underestimated just how lonely it could be. I feel very lucky to be able to rely on my Challenge fellows for a sense of community and the support networks that come along with it.
My friends who have begun traditional jobs tell me that it’s difficult to make friends in a new city with their busy work schedules, and they miss the encouragement that comes with having an established group of friends. I’m realize that I’m in a unique position, to have the support and company of my diverse, motivated, and successful fellows, as most jobs don’t allow for this kind of camaraderie. We give each other rides when our cars need work, we meet up for happy hour to de-stress after work at our host companies, we remind each other of important deadlines. This type of support network is invaluable, and very unique.
The Challenge leadership has done careful work to encourage these connections: orientation week was like one long bonding session, interspersed with powerful trust exercises and increasingly intimate getting-to-know-you activities. The most powerful of these, in my mind, was a combination of both: the racial equity workshop. We did this just a couple weeks ago, which was an important timing decision, since we have built up trust and understanding of one another over the past four months. We shared things in this group that we haven’t shared with anyone, and I deeply respect my colleagues for this vulnerability and communal accountability.
I’m excited to form deeper relationships with my Challenge fellows: when people ask me how I like my job, I tell them I have 26 built-in friends!