Faculty Spotlight: How Faculty Office Hours Can Support Your Career Goals

We strive to earn a college degree because we want a solid foundation to launch our careers. Cornerstones to our preparation are grounded in our engagement with members of the professional and career development team in the Pathways Center (Thompson 128) and with your faculty members. Your instructors can offer insights and guidance to your professional pathways. Here are some those highlights.

Resource for Internships & Employment

Faculty members are well connected in the respective fields and they received a lot of postings for jobs and internships. When you give faculty the opportunity to get to know you, as Journalism Senior Lecturer, Steve Fox said, “Students who attend office hours will be at the forefront of their minds” when considering who they should recommend. Also, faculty can write you an exceptional letter of recommendation for these position, but as Political Science Professor, Rebecca Hamlin noted, “it is more difficult to write a letter for students who don’t attend office because it is harder to personalize the letters.”

Develop Your Professional Rapport

Building professional relationships is critical as you continue your career journey. Your interactions with your faculty members might just be your first opportunity to start your network. As Political Science Professor, Jesse Rhoads discussed, student attending office hours is “an opportunity for them to develop professional relationships in an office setting, sometimes for the first time.” Similarly, Journalism Assistant Professor, Kelsey Whipple said, it is an opportunity for students to “replicate professional dynamics, professional norms, which would include showing up on time.” Legal Studies Associate Professor, Lauren McCarthy, also identified that office hours prepares students for “walking into a situation with someone who has more ‘power’ and you have to develop that professional level communication.” This can feel intimidating, but it is your opportunity to practice as you prepare for other real world professional experiences. It an opportunity to build your confidence. It’s like cold calling someone, but in a safe environment.

Learn About Someone Else’s Career Path

Everyone has a different path for how they have arrived at their current professional position. As Journalism Professor, Kathy Forde commented, “Student’s don’t have to know what their career path is when you come to office hours. As faculty it is an opportunity to share the roads we have taking to arrive at the place we are currently.” Economics Senior Lecturer, Valerie Voorheis said, “Faculty have had different jobs and experiences. It’s a chance for students to gather information and gain knowledge about how others have arrived at their current position.” Finding your professional pathway is a journey, it can be circuitous. Attending office hours is a chance to breakdown the assumptions that we have about the process of building a career. Stop by your faculty member’s office hours and learn about all the amazing and fascinating experience they have had to build their skills and develop their professional networks.

Attending office hours has the potential of opening so many doors for you,. Faculty members are able to let you know about possible job and internship opportunities, but they need to know what you are interested in. They can write recommendations for you and serve as references during the job search process. They can give you tips about and insights into the field that you are interested in working in. Your professors want you to be successful but you need to take the initiative to start this professional relationship.

By Koni Denham
Koni Denham Director of Student Success - SBS