Life and stuffPrograms + Careers

Giving Students the Boot: Professor or Parent?

Being a good professor is a lot like being a good parent at times: you have to “make” your students do things that they would rather not do because you know deep down that it’s good for them.  As a professor, I like to think of it as “creating opportunities” rather than “making someone” do something, but potato/potahto.

Recently, my graduating students attended a breakfast networking event that they have worked all term to plan and organize.  Shortly before the event, I received email messages like “will I lose marks if I don’t attend?” and “I think this event is better suited to other students” or “does it really matter if I attend?”. 

I was discouraged.  Didn’t they know what a tremendous opportunity this was?  Didn’t they realize that it didn’t matter if they were interested in the companies attending – the mere fact of attending and interacting with hiring managers would help them build important job search skills?  Didn’t they know that life is uncertain and you never know when you might need a networking contact?

The event is now over and I am anything but discouraged.  The positive email messages started flowing almost immediately – from students and employers alike and though I know there were some students who left feeling the event was a waste of their time, I also had students who said things like this:

“Thank you for organizing an event like our breakfast meeting that we had this morning.  It was a great opportunity for us to experience and it was really a valuable experience for me. I never thought that I will be able to ask questions to an employer without shivering. You and Lesley created an environment where I did not feel nervous and I was comfortable to ask questions to employers. I recommend you continue to host a breakfast event for future third year students.”

I would like to thank you for a great experience at the networking event. I think it was very successful and I am very privileged to have been a part of it. I met employers I never thought I could have met in my lifetime. I truly was afraid to attend the event or even approach potential employers, but after this event, I believe I have a new perspective. I WANT IT!  One of the things I most appreciate taking the Law Clerk program is that I have acquired so many skills and knowledge and it became very apparent to me after speaking to the law firm representatives.

So I’m going to keep on keepin’ on and creating opportunities for students to experience new things that will help them build important life skills – whether they like it or not :-).  I would encourage every parent to do the same.

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Kathleen Stewart

Parent, cart-wheeler, teacher, marathoner.

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