There are only two things that make me look forward to summer’s end: fall boots and the return of college football. At my alma mater, the University of Michigan, football is an enormous part of campus culture and the school pride continues well after graduation. When I relocated to a new city, I learned that football and school spirit provide an amazing way to network and meet people. For hard core football fans, this might be a no-brainer, but I was pleasantly surprised to see how much college football helped me adjust to my new home and make friends.
Show Off a Little School Spirit
On my first day of work, I hung a small Michigan pennant by my cube and voil�! –people from various departments stopped to introduce themselves and talked about college football. It was the easiest icebreaker and I never had to leave my desk. I almost felt lazy. Similarly, whenever I wore a college shirt while walking around the city, I frequently met people who went to Michigan and some who went to other rival schools. It was an unexpected way to make friends at the grocery store or gym.
Connect with Coworkers
We spend the majority of our week days with coworkers, so naturally being able to connect with them helps make work enjoyable. When I was a recent college grad, it was not always easy to relate to colleagues who have been out of college for a long time and were at completely different life stages. Some older coworkers would express that they wanted to hear all about the new hires’ weekend escapades and adventures so they could live vicariously through us, but these conversations can easily destroy a young professional’s image. Football, however, was a fun topic of conversation that allowed coworkers to get to know me better and provided an appropriate transition to talk about other non-work related interests.
Seek Out Your Alumni Association
Most alumni associations will host football watching events. Even if you care less about football, these events create laid back environments that are much less intimidating than the average networking event. You can reminisce with others about your favorite wacky professor and that delicious late night burrito joint on campus. Also, most college alumni want to help other alumni with their endeavors and career goals. Just make sure you avoid the football fanatics dressed as your school’s mascot that scream intensively at the television. They most likely do not want to be bothered.
Football fan or not, college football is closely associated with school pride and provides an easy way to connect with fellow alumni about an amazing experience you both shared. If you recently moved to a new city or graduated from college, embrace college football season as an outlet to make new friends and professional contacts.
Photo courtesy of The Roosevelts