I know what you’re thinking: “This article is going to tell me how to suck up.” OK, it sort of sounds like it. But hear me out, this piece of information may be vital to your academic and professional success.
So no, you shouldn’t suck up.
You should engage your professors, show interest and work hard in their classes.
Network with your professor and you may open a world of opportunities. There is a great reward in establishing a valuable association with professors you encounter during your academic career.
From recommendation letters, mentorship and help landing a post-graduation job, professors are professionals in their field with significant contacts. During your academic journey, professors can provide support, guidance and serve as important advisors. This article investigates developing a rapport with your professor and how to professionally engage them in the classroom and beyond.
You shouldn’t seek to network with every instructor you encounter. Inevitably along your academic journey you will meet a professor who is exceptional in some way, for you as a student. This means the professor teaches in a field in which you are also interested, has experience with an industry that you’d like to work in or is inspirational in some way. They may have wonderful mentorship that really empowers you, or you simply feel that this professor has taught you a lot.
The best way to network with your professor is to show effort.
Show them that you are serious about their class, school and bettering yourself. Most professors truly want to see the best for their students. Essentially, don’t be all talk – it doesn’t work in the military and it won’t with college. Both institutions are more interested in results than promises.
Arrive early to class or stay after class in order to address academic concerns. Maintain open communication with your professor. Express your goals, interests and how their teaching style and/or class has made an impact. Ask for direction, suggestions and advice.
While you may not foresee a need for specific information, you may be surprised with the information your professor can provide, things that you may have never thought about, or known to ask about.
This has two major advantages: indirect mentorship that may lead to direct mentorship and your visibility within what can be, at times, a sea of students.
Why go through all this trouble? Why not just show up for class, get the grade and move on? You certainly can, but you won’t be getting your money’s worth. More than that, if you network with your professor effectively, you will find assistance on many levels.
Of course advice is one benefit, but each time you need a recommendation letter or even an employment reference, you may find that a professor who knows you and the quality of your work will be more than happy to help.
Companies within the field your professor teaches often send information on hiring events, research opportunities, internships and sometimes direct requests for applicants. Professors may pass along these opportunities to students they know are either qualified or interested. If they already know you, of course, the chances are that you will be among those the professor contacts.
Of course, professors can also further prepare you through instruction and information for the field of your choice.
Like any professional relationship, the academic world is not so different from career networking. The classroom is the foundation from which great careers spring and, if harnessed correctly, may allow you a chance to go even further than you hoped.
So go ahead, network with your professor. You might find that they not only appreciate it, but enjoy the opportunity to help you.