This Friday our college hosts “Welcome to the Majors.” It’s a unique kick-off event that introduces students to the culture of our college. I think it’s so important to a student’s success in our college that I require all students in GEB 3003 to attend. Those who attend will get a LOT advice on how to make their time in our college productive. Mostly I’ll talk about differentiating yourself through the choices you make. Here’s three more tips:
READ – Seriously, this one tip will save you all kinds of headaches down the road. A couple years ago I had a student come to see me. He wanted to know what could be done because he’d missed the Career Coach meeting he was supposed to attend. My answer was nothing, it’s already happened and you missed it; but I wanted to know why. “Why did you miss it?” I asked. “I didn’t know about it,” he replied. The meeting requirement was listed in the assignment document, part of three class announcements and you were sent an email by your Career Coach. How did you not know about it? “Well, I don’t read that stuff. It’s a lot of words…” This young man’s time in our college was short lived.
When you go to work, your employer may provide you with an employee handbook. They expect you to read it. It’s a guide for employee policies, behavioral expectations, and (if it’s well done) a tool to help you help yourself. How am I expected to dress for work? How do I request time off? What if I have an emergency, who do I call? All of that stuff is in there and your manager is not going to schedule a time to read it to you. You will be expected to do that yourself.
Your syllabus and the documents your professor asks you to read are your “employee handbook” for that class.
Plan ahead and be proactive rather than reactive – It will happen. The deadline for a quiz will pass and I’ll get a frantic note, usually a few minutes after the closing time, pleading for leniency. Work problems. Car problems. Sweetie problems. Something came up and kept the student from doing what they needed to do two hours before the deadline. In most cases, the window to complete this task opened 3 or more days before the deadline. Sometimes six days before the deadline. Sometimes a couple months before the deadline.
A former supervisor wore out a familiar saying in these cases, “A failure to plan on your part, does not constitute an emergency on my part.” Yes, there are injuries, illnesses, and severe emergencies. I’m not talking about that. I’m talking about testing Murphy’s Law by waiting until the last minute then having your Internet connection go out. Or you have to stay late that day (after you got off work on time the previous days).
Your professors have given you a schedule of everything you need to do this semester. After you read, spend some time this weekend with your syllabi and a calendar and plan out what you’ll need to do. Then if emergency strikes, it’ll strike Mr. LottaWords, not you.
Talk to people – One of the reasons I hated the “anonymous” culture that existed in our college previously was that in no business situation do you get to work independently. Truly independent. Even if you are a sole proprietor, you have to interact with and respond to the needs of your customers. This means you have to communicate with them.
Now that you’ve done some recon on your own, go to class. Look around. Introduce yourself. If the person looks at you like you have three heads then blow them off, they’re not worth your time. Move on to someone else. The people you meet now will be your peers, co-workers, clients, managers, and protégés in ten years. Get to know them now while you can so you can be more productive later. Find out what they know, who they know, and what they need. Introduce them to what and who you know. That’s networking and that’s how things get done.
Our college is so big that it’s actually EASIER to be anonymous. However, “Anonymous” was never employee of the month. (Neither was Mr. LottaWords). Just start with “hi” and see where it takes you.
I’m glad you’re here, and glad to be working with you. See you Friday!