How to Have a Good Relationship with Your Professors
It’s important that you establish rapport not only with your classmates, but also with your professors. They can enhance your undergraduate experience and provide you with glowing letters of recommendation. They’re also renowned experts in your desired field, so you can use this connection to know more about the industry you want to get into. Most of them also have connections to potential employers, which could be useful once you graduate.
At this point in your life, you’ll also need a mentor who will ensure you’re on the right track to the career you want for the future. Usually, the first person that comes to mind for mentorship is one of your professors.
But if you’re the shy type who typically sits at the back of class, here are some tips on how you can establish a relationship with your professors.
Participate in class.
This might be obvious, but active participation scores major brownie points. You know that awkward part near the end of class where your professor asks if anyone has questions, and no one answers because they’re all raring to go?
Raise your hand, but don’t ask questions just for the sake of asking them. Ask thoughtful questions that show you’ve been listening.
Learn more about them.
You can visit the official university website to read up on your professors’ bios, or google their official website to know more about their specialty work, research, and publications.
It’s one thing to check their official bios, and another thing to stalk their social media profiles. What if you accidentally liked an old IG post, or let it slip that you saw their socials in one of your conversations? This could get awkward.
Take advantage of office hours.
Professors have office hours so they can talk to students outside of class. So instead of spending free time in student apartments, Waterloo students can use these office hours to inquire about a topic discussed in class, to clarify a recent grade, or even just to say hi.
People love to talk about themselves, so this would also be a good time to ask what is rewarding about their field, or what advice they would give to an undergraduate like you. You can also talk about your own personal goals and ask for advice on how to achieve them.
Keep things official, unless they would be the first to bring the conversation on a more personal level. Make an appointment instead of just dropping by, arrive on time, and be mindful of time constraints.
Do the extra credit.
Completing the extra credit will show that you really like the class, and gives you a buffer in case you scored low on an exam or didn’t do well on an assignment.
Stay in touch.
Once the semester has ended, you can stay in touch by sending a quick email or asking to connect via LinkedIn. You can update them with your internships, or simply thank them for their role in your accomplishments.
Strike while the iron is hot and ask for that recommendation once you’ve passed their class, and not six months after. Because let’s get real for a moment here: your professors routinely meet new faces, and they won’t remember you as well as you’d remember them.
Remember that professors are people, too! They want you to succeed as much as you do, so don’t hesitate to approach them. Learn to ask for help, and make yourself known. This will benefit your career in the long run.