April 15, 2014
An average student has roughly five different professors in a semester. In a year, they probably have nine or ten. By the time a student graduates there is a good chance that they will have had 35+ professors. Each one has taught you something that you may or may not use in your profession, but are they here for more than being an instructor? The answer is yes.
They are here for you to network with, to help you potentially find an internship for the summer or a job after graduation. For some students it is intimidating to approach a professor. Students may not know how to network with a professor, or which professor to approach. To make the process a little easier, here are some guidelines to think about when starting to network with professors.
- Find the right professor: This may seem difficult at times, but there are ways to tell which professor is right for you. Choose a professor that you like as an instructor and who has values you admire. Don’t pick one just because s/he is in your discipline, you have to be able to converse with him/her too.
- Use your email: Sometimes the best first step is just sending a professor an email and asking them to meet you for coffee. You could also set up a meeting for their office ours. Just make an effort to get to know them.
- Ask the questions: Be one of the students that actively participate in class, but be careful not to overdo it. Just be sure the professor is seeing your interest and knows your name.
- Take small classes: This is easier said than done, but when possible take the smaller classes. The professor will get to know you better and vice versa. This allows for engagement in a more comfortable atmosphere.
- Research the professor: Knowing more about your professor than just what they tell you in class is more beneficial than you think. This shows that you wanted to know a little more about them, and took an initiative to do so. Be cautious about coming off as a stalker.
- Accept Advice: Be willing to accept the advice they give openly, many times they are just trying to help. Some information may really change your perspective.
- Don’t Dine and Dash: Don’t be one of the students that takes advantage of your professors connections. Truly get to know them because you never know when they will be able to help in the long run.
These are just a few tips to consider when beginning to network. Don’t try to network with all your professors; it will get overwhelming and counterproductive. Remember to just take a leap of faith, because many professors want to help you. If you strikeout with one, move on to the next until you find the one you are proud to call a mentor.
Austin Ambrose is a freshman studying Journalism. You can follow him on Twitter at @tex_ambrose7.