It's never too early to make crucial business connections that get you your dream job. After all, the entire purpose of college is to train you for a successful career. That being said, you may be a freshman juggling assignments and a social life who may not necessarily be looking for an internship or job right at this second. However, you can form honest and worthy connections with your professors and mentors to form a strong rapport for the future.
1. Find a Professor or Subject of Interest
I will be the first to admit that college professors are nothing like your high school teachers so modes of making connections completely differ. One aspect that might make it difficult to form worthy connections with your professor is the fact that you rarely ever see them. Perhaps you see your professor two to three times a week. Maybe you don't see them at all because you take an online class. So you might wonder how you are supposed to find a common area of interest with your professor. Well first of all, choose a professor whose area of expertise genuinely interests you. Professors are not oblivious to kiss-ups. They've been doing this for a long time and they've most likely seen it all, so don't be fake.
2. Be Visible
Next, make sure you're visible by starting a dialogue. If you have difficulty starting a conversation, shoot your professor an email about a part of the class that interests you or confuses you. If the professor’s teaching style is different but helpful, let them know. Don't be afraid to participate in class. The important thing is to let them know you exist because after years of teaching and multiple classes year-round, your face or profile can get lost in the crowd.
3. Follow Up
The next important step is to maintain a professional relationship. Admittedly, this can be the part that's a little different. I don't know about you, but throughout high school I always had this impression that my teachers were just teachers and nothing else. They were there during the school day and not at all important to other aspects of my life. When I got to college, things were slightly different. I am an adult now, which means that expectations and realities are different. No one is obligated to do anything for you. Which means unlike your high school teachers who had the responsibility of writing your recommendations and making you stay later for extra help, you are on your own. This means that if you want your professors to write you that graduate school recommendation or give you an upper hand with that internship, they need to know you and like you. Give them a reason to.
Now, I'm not saying the only reason for taking an interest in your professors is for self-advancement. That's a plus but knowing your professors can be a learning experience in and of itself. Not only are they experts in their fields of study, they are also human beings with real life experiences. Those can be invaluable in the long run.
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