Opinion | Work Friends Can Last a Lifetime

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To the Editor:

Re “The Magic of Your First Work Friends,” by Emma Goldberg (Sunday Business, July 17):

Over the past months, as I recommitted to scheduling coffee and drink dates with my professional friends, our conversations landed on this question: “How will this current generation thrive without the benefit of strong workplace friendships?”

The special friendships one builds by showing up and working in the shared office environment help with navigating a work culture, learning to manage one’s boss or even discovering when it’s time to move on and pursue new opportunities.

I also think about how these friendships propel one’s professional life. Engaging in professional associations, volunteering through business networks and supporting a colleague’s professional goals add to a sense of belonging and community, and allow for a fulfilling work life.

My career has spanned nearly four decades, and the friendships I have built over the years have stood the test of time. I cherish these friendships. They have supported me throughout all of life’s ups and downs. Let’s encourage this next generation to show up at the office and reap the benefits of workplace friendships.

Beth Kramer
Needham, Mass.

To the Editor:

In 2010, I married my college sweetheart, Richard Traub (we both graduated from N.Y.U. in 1968), after having spent nearly 45 years apart. He found me on Facebook in 2009, and our conversation resumed as though it had never been interrupted. But we had a lot of details to fill each other in on.

We decided to have a formal wedding. We each drew up a wedding guest list, and when I produced 100 or so guests, all dear and close friends, he asked me, “How do you know all these people?” I said, “From work.”

I had never thought of these dear friends as “work friends” until I was asked that question. I hope young people soon again get the chance to form these precious relationships. They are life-sustaining and life-enhancing. I wouldn’t be the person I became without my friends.

Thea Volpe-Browne
Leonardo, N.J.

To the Editor:

Reading Emma Goldberg’s piece made me look back fondly on my first teaching job back in the day. I was one of four newly minted teachers who became fast friends, in and out of school, supporting each other in our new profession and learning from one another.

Forty-five years later, we are still learning from one another, and the things we taught each other in those early days have guided my whole career. Together we forged a bone-deep understanding that education is not only the way to change a child’s life, but also the way to change the world.

The four of us have taken different paths since then, but our friendship has endured, and we continue to share experiences and perspectives. Now that I’m on the verge of retirement, I am so grateful for those early workplace friendships, and I ache for the young people who only know their co-workers through the filter of a screen. What they gain from workplace flexibility they may lose in lifelong friendships and lifelong learning.

Debbie Zlotowitz
The writer is the head of school at the Mary McDowell Friends School.

To the Editor:

My thoughts turn to young people working at their first jobs after graduation. I personally know of two instances in which recent graduates have moved to new states for work. They don’t know anyone in their new location. Their only contacts are through work.

I would hope that co-workers would make them feel welcome in a new, unfamiliar place by inviting them home for dinner, to a weekend BBQ or to a family holiday gathering. They could ask to have lunch together, to visit a local museum or go to a sports event.

Think that this might be your daughter, nephew or grandchild as they begin their working lives. How would you want their co-workers to reach out to them?

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