This is Ice Breakers, where we’re ditching two truths and a lie and taking a look at what it really means to have friends at work. Through anonymous interviews, we're asking people how they introduce themselves (or don’t) to the person at the next desk or across the office—and what those relationships actually look like.
Today, we’re talking to a 25-year-old Brand Communications Manager at Stink Studios, a global creative studio, in Brooklyn, NY. With experience working at a small startup and at a larger agency, she’s experienced what it’s like to have a social circle at work—and what it’s like to feel like to work in a place where she wasn’t understood. Today, she’s found her people. She even started a newsletter for creative women with one of her coworkers. And spoiler: it all started with a dog.
Forgetting your job, how would you describe yourself in three words?
I would say I’m outspoken. I'm direct. And I'm personable.
And do you feel like you're that person at work?
For sure, a hundred percent.
That’s awesome. Have you always felt like that?
I worked a sales job right after I graduated from college as a means to get me to New York. And that was kind of a tough environment, because they just weren't my people. That was like a five month stretch after I graduated, and since then it's pretty much been me at one hundred.
I'd love to hear a bit about the people in your office, who you interact with at work.
I am very fortunate to work for a very social company. I don't want to fall into like "we're all best friends” because at the end of the day we’re coworkers and we're getting paid to be there, but I think pretty much everyone who works at my company is interested in socializing. We have big communal tables in our lunch room. We have breakfast in the office. So it's pretty common for people to sit and hang out.
A lot of people in the office were in the music scene or in the party scene for a bit, so everyone's just very open and very fun. Culture is actually the number one thing we sell to perspectives. And it's not in a bullshit way. If you're going to work crazy hours, you have to like the people you're working with.
And then I have some people in the office that I'm friends with on a personal level. I run a newsletter for women in the creative industry with a fellow thinker here. We started out as colleagues and now she’s one of my closest friends. I actually do a podcast on the side with her boyfriend too. So I’ve had friendships that have been work-friends that are now actual friend-friends.
Of the the people who have shifted from work-friends to friend-friends, what qualified that change?
So I’d say for my closest friend, my work-wife, we made that transition by, well, I have my little dog in the office and she would often walk one of our boss's dogs. She'd take him on the weekend because she and her boyfriend were trying to stuff out if they wanted to get a dog. So it started with us taking the pups to the park. And then we started hanging out outside of work. Our partners have met, we all hang out together. And then we started running our newsletter. So we do a lot of things outside of office hours that have just kind of formed a very natural, organic friendship.
That’s such a cute story!
Yeah, when I first started, she was also one of the only other women my age at my company. So we naturally gravitated towards each other, in terms of finding your work friends and your work allies.
Do you think having those things in common—age and gender—makes a meaningful difference in who you become friends with?
I think in general, by nature of our industry, the women tend to group together, not in an exclusive way, but definitely in a solidarity way. We have a separate ladies [Slack] channel just because there are things we need to talk about, like who has a tampon and things like that. But we also talk about things like “ooh there was something that maybe got brought up in a meeting that I'm not one-hundred percent okay with, someone gut check me on this.” So a lot of us gravitate towards other women. But, that being said, we're very lucky in that we don't have any alpha bros in the office. It's like a lot of soft boys.
Are you part of any groups or club either at work or outside of the office?
I'm actually one of the volunteer coordinators with the New York City Pride March, so I kind of have that as a second unpaid job. And, as I mentioned earlier, I also run a newsletter and a podcast so I have a pretty full docket most days.
Do you have any advice for making friends or reaching out to new people at work?
My only advice is to make sure you bring as much as your authentic self to the table as possible. If you go into making work friends on the wrong foot, it can lead to a bit of an awkward transition when you eventually get more comfortable and open up. If you try to be someone or something you're not, you risk finding people who only want to be friends with that version of you, which can be exhausting.
Lastly, what’s something about yourself that people wouldn’t normally guess?
I majored in music in college, so I'm actually an opera singer. I still perform twice a year with an orchestra I used to work with in college.
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