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Why You Should Meet Your Professors This Semester

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We are all embarking on an academic journey this school year. For the most part, I am always impressed with the students who take a moment to reach out and introduce themselves at the start of a new semester. Why is this a good idea, let's explore the value:

  1. First and foremost, you get a feel for how the semester will be with this professor. Are they cordial? Are they excited to teach you? Do they ask how they might help you? Can they give you some advice about doing well in the class? Will they tell you what they think the class is all about? You can learn a lot by just listening and asking a few questions.
  2. If this professor is part of your major or program, you can better understand your field of study. Most professors are required to be an expert in their field, but are not always teaching in the area of their distinct expertise. There may be an opportunity to gain a deeper understanding of the field through research projects, independent study opportunities, special projects or internships.
  3. Most likely, you will need references for grad school, law school, med school or your first job. I have found over the years, that being a reference for a student I know well is very easy. However, it is very hard to provide a valuable reference to a student who just did well in my class. Most of us can tell how well the writer knows the student. Since you are likely going to need a few references, you should start each semester with the goal to obtain a reference each semester in your junior and senior years.
  4. Some professors are very well connected to your program and your field of study. These connections may be valuable resources that will enhance your academic experience. Professors are often asked to recommend their best students for events, internships, special projects, competitions and job opportunities. It is not uncommon that professors have great industry contacts and are willing and able to make valuable introductions to the students they trust will make a good impression.

Perhaps a few examples from our Professional Sales Program would be useful to make the point.

  • This past summer we hired a freshman to work with the Sales Center because she introduced herself to our program during her first semester and volunteered at all of our events this year.  We both won this summer by working with a great future sales student. 
  • Last year, our program was invited to bring freshman, sophomores and juniors to a special competition event that normally would only have seniors. We had a short list of students who we knew were interested in our program because they had reached out to our faculty and staff. They represented our program at this event and helped our team place well and had a valuable experience normally reserved for more experience students.
  • Each year we choose ambassadors for our national sales teams. These students are sophomores or juniors who are enrolled in their first sales class. Most of these ambassadors gain sufficient experience with our nation team training program that they become national competitors in their senior year.
  • I am constantly called about sales openings in the DFW market as well as internships openings. Many times a student has just visited with me about getting sales experience in the field as we can make a quick connection.

While many students will be developing a plan to make the most of their campus life socially, I hope that they will also be strategic about their field of study. Make it a point to reach out to meet your professor this school year. Find their office hours and/or make an appointment. You might just have a richer academic experience this year if you do.

Howard Dover

Dr. Dover is a marketing and sales professor at the Naveen Jindal School of Management. As the director of the Center for Professional Sales at JSOM, he has a real passion for coaching students and helping them reach their goals. Read more articles

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