It wasn’t until my senior year of college that I realized how important it was to build strong, meaningful relationships with my professors. I was a good student that did all her assignments, earned good grades, and spoke up when needed. However, my professors didn’t really know my story, my abilities, my personality – they didn’t know me. Professors want to get to know you and they just want to have a conversation with you!
Here are a few ways to create relationships with your professors:
After the first day of class, introduce yourself and shake their hand. It’s as simple as that! It’s good for them to hear your name and put a face to the name. While they do have many students, very few students actually make the effort to introduce themselves, so you will stand out!
Participate in class
Raise that hand! I used to hate speaking up in class because I didn’t like it when everyone would turn around to look at me. Eventually, the more I participated, the easier it got. When you engage in the class discussions, rather just sitting and listening, you will gain more knowledge and you’ll be able to hear how your opinion may differ from your peers.
Be respectful and enthusiastic
Professors will not give you the time of day if you are short and rude with them. Always be respectful, especially in emails, when asking a professor for anything. When emailing your professor, be professional and use formal language. Also, be enthusiastic about the class when the professor is lecturing. To a professor, there is nothing worse than a class of students who look bored and disinterested.
Go to office hours
Office hours are essential when trying to form a connection with a professor, and they are also crucial if you want to succeed in the class. This gives you additional time to review your previous tests, ask questions, and tell your professor about your career goals. I told my web design professor last semester that I want to get a job in New York after graduation, and immediately she goes “I have a contact for you!"
Have a conversation
Even if you don’t have a particular question or assignment to discuss, drop by their office or chat with them in the hallway (if they aren’t in a rush or headed to a meeting). Ask them how they are doing and tell them a little bit about your own week. One time, I saw my former professor in the hallway and we ended up talking about what shows we have been watching on Netflix, so it doesn’t have to be anything serious.
Maintain the connection
Don’t leave em’ hanging! Just like any other contact you have, you should be keeping in touch with your professor. Whether it’s through LinkedIn or via email, make sure to update them on the projects you are working on, as well as your current career goals. Professors usually have connections to employers and they might be able to connect you with people if you put forth the effort. Make sure they can vouch for you by taking these steps to get there!