Dear esteemed professor:
For many years I was conditioned to think I had to go to college to be successful. All of my pre-college schooling was geared towards getting into a college or university, which of course would get me into a good job. I would make more than the undereducated, according to my high school teachers. I would have a more comfortable job (white collar, heaven forbid I did anything blue collar(more on that later)). I don’t remember but maybe I would even live longer. I certainly would have job security, just like my parents had.
To be honest, I didn’t really go to college to learn. I can do that on my own. Back in the olden days I would just get books from the library and read good magazines and newspapers. Now I can educate myself using Google, YouTube and subscribe to various industry or association continuing education opportunities. Not to mention there are a ton of self-proclaimed experts who give out so much information for free on the Internet that I don’t have enough time to go through it all.
For me, going to school was not about learning. It was about being prepared to be (and survive) in the workforce. It didn’t help that most of the material presented in the classroom was outdated, or for a setting I wasn’t going to be in. I remember an MBA ecommerce class, taught by a marketing professor who didn’t know how to spell ecommerce… he had no interest in current ecommerce issues, only in teaching the lists from his undergrad marketing classes. What a shame. It was my first MBA class and it really deflated my expectations of how much better the MBA program would be from the undergrad.
So, understanding where I am coming from, let me assume (I know, I know) what you are there for. You want to impart on me your knowledge and wisdom from your area of expertise. Whether it’s anthropology, economics or outdoor recreation, you want me to be that much smarter in that area. I’m cool with that. I am interested in expanding my mind and vision… I just beg you to make it interesting and not do a book report of what I had to read for homework, okay?
But more than that, I have something I really wish you would do. It’s too late for me, since I’m done with the “formal education,” but I would like ask you do this for the people I care about, whether they are in school now or whether they will be in 15 years (my kids). I really wish you would take a few class hours during the semester and have frank, candid career discussions. Here are some ideas:
- Tell me what I can expect when I get out of school.
- Tell me what the value of an internship is and strongly encourage me to get a real internship.
- Tell me what you love about your career, and what your friends in the industry do, how they got there, etc.
- Bring professionals into class so they can share their stories with us. Bring recent grads in so they can tell us what it’s really like.
- Teach us what networking is, how to network, and why and when we should network.
- Teach us about personal branding, what it is and why we need it.
- Any chance you can bring the career services folks into the picture? It seems like there is a brick wall between you and career services… I don’t care why, but I would like to know if there is value in the career services offices.
I’m obviously not asking you to step away from all of the great stuff you prepared for the class, but please bring some career management stuff into the discussion. The more open and candid you are, the more interested we’ll be, I promise it.
Oh yeah, not to be demanding, but I have one more request. Don’t just talk about it (although that would be a 1,000% improvement from what other professors are doing), but LIVE IT. I want you to network, and be well-networked. I want to be able to google your name and see your brand on-line. Between sessions I’d like to know you are out consulting, or volunteering, or somehow staying current in the industry.
If I come to you requesting job search help, you should be able to give me some leads, because you have been nurturing relationships. Whether you give them to me or not will depend on our relationship, and whether you trust I’ll treat them right or not… but please develop and nurture those relationships! You need to teach us how to do that, and it really should come from your experience.
Just some guy
P.S. Sorry for all my smart alec remarks during my many years of school. I know I was a bad student.
P.P.S. Not everyone agrees with me. Here’s some feedback I got from some of my network (first my question):
Here are my the responses I got:
I must end on this note. I didn’t write this to offend or degrade professors, rather the system they are in.