“Oh no, you don’t want our help. We are way too out of touch with all of that stuff,” to paraphrase a college professor of mine.
Last week I was in his office to discuss my paper on The Unvanquished. After our meeting, he asked me what I hoped to do after graduation. I told him that I was interested in publishing and he directed me to career services- professors always direct students to career services. When I asked him if professors ever get involved in students’ job searches, he told me that college educators are far too removed from the job market and that their students would not want their help. Although he is a seasoned professor with over thirty years of alumni at his disposal, he concluded that professors are not good resources for seniors entering the job market.
After this meeting, and in the context of my recent research regarding QU’s lack of internship requirements for all of its colleges, I began reflecting on what the university’s role is in regard to their graduating seniors. So I emailed one of my English professors, Patricia Comitini, who is also the advisor for QU’s chapter of the English Honor Society- Sigma Tau Delta. Involved with the elite of her department, she certainly has connections or knowledge that would benefit her graduates.
Professor Comitini’s motto is “once my student, always my student.” Not surprisingly, when I asked her if she believed that it is a professor’s responsibility to help students enter the real world she answered, “I’m happy to give advice…whenever. This is a difficult time for students to be looking for jobs. There’s lots of uncertainty. And students should be hopeful but also realistic.” As a student advisor, Comitini meets with her students to discuss possibilities for internships or other work that would be beneficial towards their career goals. “Towards the end of the senior year, I try to discuss students’ future plans… and I will certainly write letters for those who need them. And I keep the invitation open… I’ve had former students contact me four or five years later asking for letters of recommendation for graduate school usually, and I’m always happy to oblige. And that goes for advice as well.”
With four years of experience at Quinnipiac, I know that not all professors are as willing to help. My advisor, for example, was reluctant to give me his daughter’s email address despite my verbalizing desire to enter publishing—the field his daughter works in. That being said, he also did not know who I was at our last meeting…after about five meetings over three and a half years.
Although Professor Comitini offers a lot of advice, she did not mention any of her own connections to the outside world in the English field. And she is not the only one. Professors are eager to impart their knowledge of the subject they teach onto their students, but are they too far removed to be helpful with finding jobs? After all, they do say “it isn’t what you do, but who you know.”
How do you feel about a professor’s responsibility outside of the classroom? Message me and tell me what you think!
Sharon is a senior at Quinnipiac University, where she studies English Literature. She is passionate about entering the world of publishing and is eager to connect with those having similar interests.
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