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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