How To Build, Develop, And Maintain Relationships With College Students

By Francine Fluetsch on June 30, 2015

When hiring college students to work for you, it may be hard at times to know how to build relationships with them, especially if you are from completely different generations. My sister and I are only three years apart, but I feel like we could be from different planets sometimes when we discuss things.

If you and your employee have a 10-year difference or so, it may seem like you aren’t even speaking the same language. Of course, you want to be able to build and maintain relationships with all your employees to make sure they are reaching their full potential in the company and are happy doing what they are doing.

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So how exactly should you go about this? I’m here to give you the inside scoop of the college student’s mind and how you’ll be able to bond with them.

1) Be social media savvy

College students are constantly tweeting and updating their Facebook statuses, so if you know your way around these sites it will be a great tool to reach out to them. Don’t go overboard with commenting on their stuff, but if you add a witty comment now and again, they will think you are pretty darn cool.

You want them to respect you, and fear you a little, but knowing that you can also be “one of them” sometimes will really help them get more comfortable around you and be open to creating a great work relationship.

2) Constructive criticism and praise

Students want to know if they are doing a good job, so if you like what you see, let them know. They are more likely to go above and beyond what is expected of them if you are giving them positive reinforcement. No one likes a hard-ass who can never be pleased.

If something really isn’t to your liking, find polite ways to let them know how they could improve. Honestly, it’s all about the wording. Maybe you could tell them about a time where you first started out and made a mistake, and how it’s not that big of a deal and it’s an easy fix. Having a relatable moment like that will make the confrontation a positive experience and won’t create awkward tension.

3) Listen to their ideas

Students like to be heard, and you could really use their ideas to your advantage. You have the experience side of things, and they have the fresh ideas that they know their generation and the ones to come will want and are expecting, so be open to changing things up and looking at it from a different angle.

Even if you don’t end up using their idea, just the fact that you acknowledge what they are bringing to the table and are thanking them for their input will really make them feel like a part of the company, and you will be giving them a reason to stick around and continue producing new work.

4) Work bonding

Sometimes, you need to take your employees out of the work environment and do something fun. It will take some of the pressure off of them, and they will see a more relaxed side of you. You have to decide how buddy-buddy you want to get with your employees, but I can assure you that college students will really appreciate fun work outings like dinners, camping, picnics, water parks, you name it!

It doesn’t have to be crazy and it doesn’t have to cost a lot, it just has to show that you value them and actually want to build relationships with them.

5) Get to know them

But I mean really get to know them. They are most likely going to find you intimidating at first, you are their boss after all, so if you can take the initiative and just start talking to them in the break room or while walking to your car after work, they will really appreciate it.

A great way to know if you are learning enough about them is asking yourself “if they wanted a letter of recommendation, would I be able to write a lot?” Knowing your employees likes and interests will strengthen your relationship with them, because it shows you value them as a person and don’t just think of them as another nameless face, but it could also help your company because you will be able to see the strengths of your employees and will be able to give them work that will appeal to their strong suits.

Having great relationships with your employees means they will like where they work, will refer other people to apply as well, and will feel proud to promote your company and back you and what you stand for. Having loyal employees is a must, so show them you care and they will definitely return the favor.

College students may sometimes seem like they are from Mars, but they just want to be acknowledged and appreciated in the work place.

By Francine Fluetsch

Uloop Writer
UC Santa Cruz
Hi! I'm Francine and I'm a fourth year Creative Writing major at UC Santa Cruz. I am one of the Campus life columnists on Uloop's National Team and also the campus editor for UCSC. I enjoy reading, writing, and taking selfies with my cat.

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