Thursday, September 4, 2008

Networking With Your Professors

This blog is mostly for the random student that happens upon this blog.

I've learned in my 6 years of college that networking with my professors has played a vital role in establishing myself as a noteworthy person on campus. Not only have I utilized my interactions with these leaders to further my academic career, I've also grown close enough to some of them to consider them to be friends... perhaps even one day colleagues.

I strongly urge the student reader to not be afraid or bashful when it comes to speaking with professors. Feel free to email them with not only quandaries of their class, but also discussions and questions of related material. Almost as often as I send a link to a friend of mine on AIM, I hop onto my email and send it to a professor with a spin on my perspective and see how they react. After this initial correspondence, it makes it easier to approach them in person.

The beauty of getting a professor to know you not just by your name but by your face is that they feel obligated at the point to acknowledge you in passing. This encourages them to strike up a temporary conversation, even if it's just a few pleasantries or jokes, that further reinforces your presence in their mind.

Eventually, you can become comfortable enough with a teacher to use them as a research outside of academia. You can ask them to be a reference on a job application or you can ask if they know anyone in the related field that can help you find a job. Often times I find myself unsure of who to contact about an event on campus that I'd like to participate in or create, and this professors often have the ability to speed the process along greatly.

I personally have used my connections to get 3 jobs now as well as access to speakers to participate in multiple computer game conferences that a former student organization of myself used to hold. I invite them to BBQs and events at my house and on occasion I have been offered similar invitations.

I can not stress how important it has been to me to develop a personal connection to most, if not all, of my professors (at least relative to my major). I wouldn't be where I am today i.e. quickly approaching my masters, a year and a half of professional level design on a AAA title under my belt, and confident in my intellectual abilities enough to be proud of myself and to think that one day I will make an impact on this world that might be memorable of foot note in a history book.

No comments: