Eliza: 3 strategies to compete with your friends and stay friends

USQ blogger ElizaEliza is a Master of Arts student but also studied a Bachelor of Applied Media (Journalism) at USQ as an undergraduate student. She loves to listen to and share other people's stories through the skills she has learned as part of her university education and natural gift of the gab.


 

Eve when we are little, we’re taught to be in competition with each other. In primary school, we were given awards for the best macaroni necklace and in high school biology we learned about survival of the fittest.

So, naturally, we’re inclined to become jealous of one another if we feel that they’re in the way of what we want. This can be a problem when the person in your way is your friend.

While the great thing about going to university is that you get to hang out with like-minded people who are working towards the same or similar goals as you, this also means you’ll probably be competing against them to get a high grade or, eventually, a job.

No matter what you’re studying, you’re probably going to have to compete with your peers at some point during your degree. For example, in the media program, we have to compete against each other for our desired role (project manager, group leader etc.) when making films. To do this, every student has to stand up in front of the class and explain why they’re better than their friends at performing a particular role.

Ouch.

While this is a fantastic exercise because it’s how job selection usually happens in ‘the real world’, it’s also pretty awful. After going through this a few times during my degree, I’ve developed 3 ways to deal with competing against my mates.

1. Try to keep the competition as professional as possible.

Remember that your friend is probably feeling just as uncomfortable competing against you as you are about competing against them. Try to leave the competition in the classroom or interview room; once you’re outside the situation, try to focus on more positive aspects of your friendship. Also, avoid making personal attacks about your mate and focus more on how well you can do the job.

2. You are one of a kind and you have different talents and skills to your friends.

The key to being able to put yourself forward when competing with your peers is in understanding what makes you special. What are your values, skills and knowledge? What makes you different to your peers? Being able to identify your niche and adapt your pitch to reflect how you specifically are the best person for the job will help you rise above your peers.

A good way to find out where your talents lie are in your grades. While your mate might get distinctions in the communication subjects, you might be better at research and therefore do better in analysis subjects. This could lead to a career in research. Sometimes our talents surprise us, and if this is the case, you might not be sure how they will help your career.

For example, I’m really bad at most sports and I’m not very academic, but I can talk under wet cement and I love questioning everything. While my skills weren’t appreciated too much at school, once I started studying media and journalism at uni, I was in my element!

Once you’ve found what makes you unique, you can use this as a selling point when you have to compete against your friends. When you’re in an interview or doing an assignment, focus on your unique skills instead of comparing yourself to your friends.

3. Don't take it personally.

Competition is a fact of life, but when it comes to competing with your friends, try not to take it personally. Remember that you’re all just trying to survive in this sometimes brutal world and in the end your mates will be there to support you and help you out when possible. If your friend gets the job you wanted, remind yourself that you will have gained an awesome contact in your desired industry, which could come in handy in the future.

To quote that one girl from Mean Girls, ‘I wish I could bake a cake filled with rainbows and smiles and we could all eat a piece and be happy’.

But that’s not how the world works unfortunately, so just focus on why you’re awesome and you’ll find that competing with your peers to get a job or a good grade won’t be as painful as Year 11 biology class.

If you would like more tips to help you deal with peer competition and utilise your unique skill set at uni or during your professional career, get in touch with USQ’s Career Development team or visit Social Hub.


 

Related:

Cathy: How to upgrade your mental resilience

Tracy-Madonna: How to handle rejection in your career 

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