Five Reasons You Should Reconnect with Your Old Professors : Under30CEO Five Reasons You Should Reconnect with Your Old Professors : Under30CEO
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Five Reasons You Should Reconnect with Your Old Professors

| August 12, 2013 | 16 Comments

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At some point, everybody has had a professor who clearly didn’t give two sh*ts about teaching. Whether these “educators” were primarily focused on research or they were simply burnt out on pension, they somehow managed to make you feel even worse about yourself in class (if you decided to show up).

My challenge for you is to sift through all of the painful memories and recall those excellent teachers who genuinely improved the quality of your day-to-day life. These extraordinary people are the ones who care about the impact they have on young minds. They have dedicated their lives to teaching or they cashed out of the game early to spread their knowledge to the next generation.

It’s easy to forget about the subtleties of school once you have moved on to the next frontier, but as a young professional or entrepreneur, there are important reasons why you should reconnect with your teachers:

1. Gain Valuable Advice

Great professors are sages. They always seem to have useful input, and they relentlessly encourage your personal development. Whether or not you failed that particular class at school doesn’t matter; you can always learn something new from an old teacher. That advice might turn out to be exactly what you need to solve a major problem in your business.

As you move forward with your career, call on these figures to bounce ideas back and forth or to shoot holes in your plans. Who knows—over time, maybe you can build a strong relationship or add an experienced member to your Board of Advisors.

2. Expand Your Network

Launching a business or making a big career move requires an enormous level of interdependence. You need a broad network of contacts that can help you make things happen. Professors are great resources for connecting you to all sorts of people: from clients to investors and from expert opinions to new talent for your team.

The truth is, you’ll never know what opportunities you’re missing out on unless you reach out. Be enthusiastic and passionate about your purpose; you might be very surprised to see where that energy can take you.

3. Secure an Influential Evangelist

“One of my old students…” or “A few years ago, I had this student who…” fill in the blank, Mad Lib style.

How many times have you heard this one? Truth: teachers are proud of past students who have gone on to do great things. They’re even more proud of students who have done great things and who keep in touch.

In addition to their networks, teachers possess a captive audience of young minds. They shape the thoughts and attitudes of countless students. Keeping in touch with these instructors might turn your story into a reference that can inspire others or even promote your business. You never know the potential magnifying effect of solid evangelism.

4. Nurture a Supportive Friendship

When you graduate high school or college, your student-teacher relationships generally dissolve. Most people never realize that they can take these relationships to the next level. Instead, they move onward to the next adventure without ever looking back.

You have endured your old classes, and if you have done so with integrity, you can transform your ties with respected teachers into supportive friendships. These friendships can help you stay grounded while inspiring your ambition to succeed.

5. Show Your Appreciation

This one should be a no brainer.

If any particular teachers come to mind as you read this, then they obviously did a great job influencing you. Let those individuals know that their hard work paid off and that they left a lasting impact on you.

Even if you do have some other motive for reaching out, don’t forget to show your sincere appreciation. Positive feedback reinforces a person’s core objectives. They put in the time to help you learn and grow, so take the time to thank them for all of their effort.

Mike Darche is a 21-year-old student at the University of Notre Dame whose mission to inspire other like-minded young entrepreneurs.

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  • http://www.twoodo.com/ Andrea Francis

    Having been a teacher for a few years and putting loads of effort in, it’s really demotivating if your students just walk away. I ended up changing career anyway but it would have been nice to know if past students appreciated what I did for them or not. I am being a bit hypocritical – I have not kept relationships with old professors going – but I hope some people take a leaf out of this article and give it a try!

  • http://www.transpiral.org/ Yasmine Khater

    Thanks for sharing, Its a great reminder. I have been emailing out my network including some amazing professors twice a year for the last 3 years, and was extremely impressed that a couple of them send me referrals, so its super cool to be connected! i just didnt realize that I could tap in more on that network!

  • Mike Darche

    Thanks Yasmine– It sounds like you’ve been consistent about rekindling those relationships and it’s paying off! I think it’s never too late to reach out, I’ve found that the teachers who did a great job inspiring in class are usually really pumped to hear from old students.

  • Mike Darche

    I’m sure you were great Andrea! You’re totally right- I think the way school is set up now doesn’t encourage an extension of the student/teacher relationship as much as it should. Most kids don’t even consider the possibility of keeping in touch or giving genuine feedback. Times are changing though, and hopefully the web will make this an easier, much more accessible option for students.

    I’m curious- what grade level did you teach before you shifted careers?

  • Andrea Francis

    I tried all levels to make sure I didn’t like it! Individual tutoring with adults and kids, in-company classes, young adult classes, teenagers, young kids, summer camps and kindergarten. I was teaching English as a second language most of the time, except for the kindergarten level where I was a regular teacher. It wasn’t the students really, it was that I found teaching the same thing over and over to be really dull.

  • Justin Tan

    Hey Mike good article there, I know we’re all still young but what do you think it’ll be like reconnecting with past classmates in the future? Or reconnecting with ex high school classmates now?

  • http://www.transpiral.org/ Yasmine Khater

    awesome, love your photo, I was in KL actually this weekend, were you there too?

  • Mike Darche

    Thanks so much! I loove KL– I actually studied in Hong Kong last semester so I traveled there in May! What brings you there, are you in Asia now?

  • Mike Darche

    Thanks a lot Justin! I definitely think the way we connect or try to reconnect with old classmates and teachers will become much more convenient in the future. You’ll easily find that guy who sat next to you in Math class without having to dig up his info from an Alumni directory or through your old school. If you want to find him you’ll have no problem, and if you forgot about him he’ll pop up on one of your sites. You can see this really well nowadays with your ex high school classmates via social media.

    But as always– it’s up to you to actually make the effort. You’ll have countless awesome tools to reach out but they won’t do you any good unless you make the connection first…What’s your take on this? Do you find that you stay tighter with your buddies from school thanks to the web, or are you more face to face/ cell phone oriented?

  • Mike Darche

    I love the taste-testing strategy to see if you could find the right fit before moving on(even summer camps and kindergarten–that’s serious commitment)! English as a second language must have been a pretty tough challenge with some of those age groups… Where were you teaching??

    You never know, maybe some day you’ll get a pleasant little note in your inbox or a Facebook message thanking you for your effort! Everyone loves the foreign language teacher– you brought some real value to the table

  • http://www.transpiral.org/ Yasmine Khater

    aww awesome, i just moved back to singapore two months ago, im half singaporean

  • Mike Darche

    Oh wow thats great, you’re so lucky! Singapore is definitely in my top 5 favorite cities–such an incredible place… I’ll have to hit you up when I make it back out that way!

  • http://www.transpiral.org/ Yasmine Khater

    awesome

  • Justin Tan

    You’re definitely right with the effort part. To be honest, I usually have a small number of really good friends, but even with them, I’m terrible at keeping in contact when we’re not together. Really trying to improve at keeping in contact with people, but it just takes up a lot of time when I feel like I could be doing other productive stuff. Do you have any tips to efficiently keeping up with people who aren’t around?

  • Mike Darche

    I know exactly how you feel, I’m at fault with keeping the connections fresh too. The busyness of life tends to put your relationships at the end of your priorities list. I find that when you have lost your way and have been lousy at keeping in touch, it always helps to give that person a direct call. Something as personal as this really speaks volumes to your friend because it shows that you genuinely care. It’s kind of like hitting a reset button.

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