How to Make Friends After Grad School
Congratulations! You finished grad school! You reached your goal! You got a job! Isn’t it a relief to be done?
Since completing grad school, I feel like I’ve really earned my free time and my me time! Can you relate? But now that we’re not worried or stressed about classes, funding, dissertation writing, or time management, who are we to spend that free time with?
If you are like me, you’ve probably spent most of your life in school or some kind of training. And I've noticed that this classroom or learning environment fosters connections and makes it sooo easy to make friends.
Sit next to someone in class → friend
Confused about the same topic → friend
Annoyed by the same person in class → friend
Same research interests → friend
Same advisor → friend
Grade for the same professor → friend
You get the point. It was so easy to make friends in grad school! And I never had any issues making friends in the past either. Honestly, I never even thought about how to make friends until after I finished grad school and started my new job in my new town.
When I first started my job in the fall of 2016, in my new town, I spent every weekend alone. Which, I needed because I need the me time after the trauma that is grad school. Plus, I spent most of my weekends prepping for my classes. You know...the new academic lifestyle.
But...once I had my life figured out and my courses prepped, I had to figure out how to make friends.
Spoiler alert: I made new friends and they came from 3 main sources.
And this article will walk you through the best ways I’ve found to make friends.
How to Make Friends After Grad School
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Let’s start with the place we all go: work
How to Make Friends at Work After Grad School
My biggest piece of advice is to talk to your coworkers about things other than work. Actually try to make real connections with the people you work with.
I know, in academia, it’s so easy to get trapped in discussions centered around your research and the classes you are teaching. But honestly, those conversations bore me. I hated them in grad school and not much has changed changed since then. No statement kills a conversation quicker for me than, “so what’s your research area?” I instantly check out.
What should you talk about?
I like to talk about my favorite TV shows and movies. I always compliment people’s outfits that I love. Or I’ll talk about going to the gym and the type of group exercise classes I take. These are the things that interest me! What things to you love to talk about most?
If your coworkers engage in those conversations with you, you may find that you have things in common that can lead to friendship.
For example, I love Marvel movies. I’ve talked about them a lot with my office mate. So last year, we got a group together to go see Dr. Strange when it premiered. It was one of the first outings I had with my coworkers. Now we do all the nerd things together. We even have a trivia team and play every week!
So what are some topics that you love to talk about that you would feel comfortable and appropriate to discuss at work or during lunch breaks?
How to Use Hobbies to Make Friends After Grad School
I like to say that hobbies are the new school! Because they are a great way to make friends after grad school! I’ll explain.
When I first moved to my new town, I remembered how much I loved taking Zumba at the gym. So I did a simple Google search for dance workout classes in my town and stumbled upon a dance studio that offered dance classes for adults.
I love dancing and I always wished that I was trained as a dancer when I was younger. So I figured, why not start now? I signed up for a class called Burlesque Aerobics! And omg! It was so much fun!
I made friends in my class, because, of course, it’s easy to make friends in a class setting. We know this! Then my class performed in the Spring show for the dance studio. And next thing I knew, I was auditioning for one of the dance companies hosted at my studio.
Now I have a whole group of friends that I dance with from my classes and my dance company. We perform together, have parties, and just meet up for fun times.
So is there a hobby that you’ve always wanted to try or get back to after grad school? Try checking out group activities in your town that have a class setting. That’s a great place to start!
If you want a list of hobbies that are great for making new friends, you can get them sent straight to your inbox.
How to Make Friends with Similar Beliefs After Grad School
After surviving grad school, I’m sure you’ve interacted with so many different people with different cultures and different beliefs. I definitely believe in having a diverse group of friends. It’s also very fulfilling to have friends that share your beliefs as well. That’s how I made my third group of friends.
During the grading party my school has at the end of each semester after finals, I was grading with someone I hadn’t met. We got along great and had so many things in common and so she invited me to her church for their Christmas program.
This was perfect for me because I had been too lazy to go out to visit churches in my first semester of my job. So I joined her that Sunday and had lunch with her family where I learned about the Young Adult Bible Study (YABS) group at the church.
I’d never experienced a small group bible study or community group in the past but I went and I loved it! It was a group of young adults at the same stage of life as me, many of them in or recently finished grad school.
Now I have a group of friends that I see every week and we have game nights, movie night, and go out for dinner together!
So what fills you up spiritually? Is it church, meditation, yoga? Try to find a community in your town that you can join.
The 3 Best Ways To Make Friends After Grad School
So, in conclusion, I’ve found that the best way to make new friends after grad school is to try new things that have a class feel, like a hobby or church/community group. And it’s also great to make friends with some of your coworkers as well.
Since putting myself out there and making new friends, I’ve spent less time home alone. Last semester my weeks were so busy having fun with my new friends! Mondays I had dance practice, Tuesday was Star Trek night (anyone else watch Star Trek Discovery?), Wednesday was trivia night, Thursday was Young Adult Bible Study, and Fridays were for me! I’m an introvert. Lol!
I hope that this post was helpful! Let me know your best methods for making friends!
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