I have been blessed to have had some really exceptional professors in my collegiate career. Something I have noticed in my peers is a lack of appreciation for their professors’ knowledge and experience. Also, there seems to be an unwillingness to foster personal relationships with them that could be helpful in post-grad endeavors. I am the first to admit it is a complete pain to be cooped up in the library on a beautiful day, or be stuck with less than thrilling group project teammates, but that is no reason to have animosity towards your professor. All those exams, quizzes and projects are required in college courses. What I ask is that you look beyond assignments and begin to see your professor as a career resource and professional connection. Getting to know them and building a relationship with your professors can help you in 3 ways:
This one may be the most obvious but I cannot stress enough how imperative it is to have at least 3 professors that know you by your first name, know your career goals, and know your personal strengths or qualifications. Once you graduate it is expected that you have a few professors that can be called upon for references. As a student you spend multiple hours with them in classes that you hopefully participated in, and have showcased your talents in each project, presentation or essay completed. This is why employers usually like to reach out to former professors for recommendations. One of my friends recently had a professor that was a former General in the U.S. Army. He wrote in her recommendation letter that in the thousands of men and women he commanded he had never seen anyone with as much dedication as her. I’m not sure of any HR manager or recruiter that wouldn’t be impressed by that statement!
2. Career Advice.
Your professors have held different positions in the past, and they too were once bright-eyed college graduates on the job hunt. I suggest that instead of skipping the infamous “syllabus day” attend class because that is usually when you get the best glimpse of your professors personality and previous employment. This especially comes in to play once you are in upper division courses that are really geared towards your major. Beyond their personal experience, professors have also seen student just like you pass through the program at your school. This gives reason to believe they know of particular companies or industries that have hired former students from your major.
3. Special Opportunities.
Unless you take the time to establish a relationship with your professor, you will never know just how much they can offer you. For example, ask if your public relations professor is a member of the local Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) chapter. If so, then maybe you could attend a luncheon or ask about other PRSA members that work for companies in need of interns. Remember that everyone strives to excel in their career, including your professors. My Event Management professor was once the Tour Manager for Hootie and The Blowfish and thanks to him a few of us students got to meet country star Darius Rucker when he was playing in town.
Hopefully now you can see why I believe professors are such an invaluable resource. Keep these ideas in mind as the semester continues, its not too late to reach out and get to know them before the stress of finals kicks into full gear.
This post was written by Courtney Pierson, our Campus Ambassador from the University of South Carolina.