Thursday, January 24, 2013

Your Career and You: "I Know You Don’t Know…So Ask Me!"

One of the fun things about teaching is the opportunity to help young (and sometimes not-so-young) current and future professionals figure out what’s next in their lives.

Some of them kind of have an idea what they think they want to do. Others honestly have no idea under the sun what the next step(s) should be, and they look to people like me for advice.

I’m always quick to reassure them that, at their age, I had no clue either. But I also didn’t feel like I had anyone I could turn to. They do.

Not complaining…fact of life…and the times. Colleges have learned a lot since I accidentally graduated with my English degree nearly 50 years ago. If nothing else, we’re no longer using quill pens to meticulously craft our papers!

I recall being terrified of most of my professors and in total awe of the others. They were wicked smart, and I figured I was the least important aspect of their respective jobs.

Oh yeah…haven’t mentioned this in a long time…I’m a card-carrying charter member of the “Introverts of the World Club.” Taking that ginormous step forward to actually ask someone who I only knew from an hour in the classroom for advice was a huge step for me…still is, to be honest.

I try to impress on my students, both my undergrad Communication students at Curry College, where I teach full-time, and my graduate students at Regis College, where I teach part-time in the Organizational and Professional Communication area, that I’m here for them…always…any time.

All they have to do is what I did NOT do…reach out and ask for advice or help.

What I figured out…after it was basically too late…was that my professors did have a clue, and they could have helped me sort things out.

Maybe. Maybe not.

You see…(tune out for this part if you’ve heard it before)…after having started off as a Civil Engineering major, I transitioned to English…mainly because I couldn’t draw a straight line with a straight edge…a prodrome as I discussed with my Crisis Communication Management class at Curry the other night…a sign that things may not be quite right.

I had a budding interest in 18th-century British Lit, so I focused on that for my degree.

Okey-dokey. Now what?!?

Reader’s Digest version…later got degrees in Business Management figuring I would “do” some sort of business. Took a Public Relations course as an elective, and the rest is ongoing “history.”

I’ll talk another time about how I’ve used aspects of all those areas of study in my actual life as a public relations professional. For now, just know that they weren’t a “waste of time” as some folks are wont to say. They were/are “value-added.”

So what’s the moral of this story?

Very simply…don’t write off your professors as “heads-in-the-clouds” know-nothings.

Talk to them. Find out more about them as individuals with lives and not just as “that person who I had for XXXX.”

Who knows? You might stumble on someone who is doing or has done exactly what gets you excited and would like to try.

I know you don’t know…so ask me!

"But where's the man who counsel can bestow,
Still pleas'd to teach, and yet not proud to know?"
Alexander Pope, "An Essay on Criticism," pt. I, 71 [1711]


  1. I agree with you Kirk. I wish I had half the resources kids have today. But I also want to encourage kids to do a bit of homework BEFORE asking too. When. Help a student who has grammatical and spelling errors on a resume or an objective having nothing to do with what he just told me he wants to do, I have to wonder. But I, like you, am always ready to help.

    1. Thanks very much, Mary. You're right in that they have a lot of responsibility in this...we're just here to offer advice/tips/suggestions. The spelling part is my ongoing crusade...I rip resumes to shreds. But the ones who GET it GET the jobs...the others are "still looking."

      I really appreciate your reading and commenting...and thanks for being there when someone does need help and is brave enough to ask for it!

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