I’ve always been a teacher and a natural leader. To connect people, create things, and empower others has always been a passion of mine, which lead me to found FindSpark.
In 2014 I decided I wanted to add a new challenge to my plate — to become an adjunct professor. Being with a group of students for an entire semester, to teach them everything I know (or a big chunk of what I know), was an incredibly exciting idea.
After a lot of hustling and reaching out, I nabbed adjunct professor roles at two schools, LIM College and School of Visual Arts. Two years later I started teaching at Fashion Institute of Technology. In all the classes I teach, I cover topics like social media, networking, resumes and cover letters, and building an online portfolio.
At professor training for LIM College
Now that I’ve taught over 450 students, I’d like to share tips on how to take advantage of the relationships you can form with your professors. I believe professors are the best resource colleges have, and most students don’t utilize the relationship beyond the classroom.
1. Ask good questions and participate.
Every professor comes in with a syllabus, some more detailed than others. But I can’t think of anything better than students asking their own questions beyond the lesson plan. It tells me you’re thinking and making the content work for you. Plus, it’s likely that if you have a question, others in the class will benefit from hearing the answer, so don’t be shy.
My SVA students at our visit to Psyop.
2. Realize the work is for you.
My students have real-world work to do. Practicing your pitch, creating a resume, and getting points for going to industry events are example of some of my assignments. I know not every class has such immediate application, but always remember that the work is to help you. In other words, if you just skim through it and don’t put the effort it, it’s to your disadvantage, not mine.
3. Make sure your professor knows your name.
All my classes had 20+ students and I taught three different classes at three schools. Some students were incredibly easy to remember — they had energy and participated, produced stellar work, and were specific about their career goals. I will never forget the student who brought up Blizzard Entertainment (her dream company) in nearly every class, the one who always offered to help me set up my computer and was the first to participate in activities, the one who asked for advice about her application to Madewell and then told me when she got the job, or the ones with the best websites.
4. Take advantage of what professors have to offer beyond the class.
Every professor has tons to offer beyond the lessons in class. Throughout the semester I invited students to FindSpark events, made introductions, and gave lots of individual career advice. I’m teaching because I love it and I want to help as much as possible. When a professor offers resources in and outside the classroom, use them and say thank you.
5. Engage with your professors on social media.
There are professors I still keep in touch with years later who have had a huge impact on my business and career post-college. I’m excited to stay in touch with my students and the easiest way will be through social media. I don’t expect them to use the hashtag #professormiethner once a week, but the occasional shout-out when you accomplish something or have a question goes a long way. And every update that’s not directed to me is a way of updating not just me, but your entire network.
How have you developed relationships with your professors? Maintained them? Share in the comments!