Do you remember taking classes with your favorite professor in college? Here’s what you may not have known. The coursework taught by your professor is only a fraction of their knowledge and experiences. That is, several university professors are involved in research, and some have multiple years of work experience.
A recent Gallup article reported that college students receive valuable career-related advice from professors. That said, why should helpful advice from your professors stop at career-related matters? In fact, you can (and should!) reach out to your former professors once you start working.
College professors are often subject matter experts on areas they teach.
Accounting Professors: Accounting professors can help you with financial statement analysis, auditing, ownership structure, federal taxation, financial reporting, and accounting disclosures.
Computer Science Professors: Computer Science professors can help you with artificial intelligence (AI), data mining, machine learning, cybersecurity, predictive analytics, and robotics.
Employee Relations Professors: Employee Relations professors can help you with unions, contract negotiations, state & federal regulations, labor disputes, workplace discrimination and harassment, and employee terminations.
Finance Professors: Finance professors can help you with investment policies, mergers and acquisitions, asset pricing, executive compensation, pricing and hedging of derivative instruments, corporate finance and capital markets, mortgage markets, investment management, and international finance.
Human Resource Professors: Human Resources professors can help you with the attraction, recruitment and selection of talent, onboarding new employees, training and retaining employees, career management, mentoring, internal talent mobility, compensation, performance management, and building an inclusive work environment.
Marketing Professors: Marketing professors can help you with competitive analysis, domestic and global marketing, brand management, business to business marketing, consumer behavior, marketing communication, marketing models & strategy, sales management, and product placement.
Organizational Behavior Professors: Professors that teach Organizational Behavior and Management courses can help you with team dynamics, employee engagement, negotiations, international management, leadership, conflict management and employee motivation.
Sales Professors: College Professors that teach Sales courses can help you with sales management, buyer-seller relationships, sales performance and failure, and measuring the performance, efficiency, and effectiveness of salespeople.
Strategy Professors: Professors that teach courses such as Strategic Management can help you with strategic alliances, corporate risk, mergers and acquisitions, market competition, and the impact of technological shifts and innovation on organizations.
Supply Chain Professors: Supply Chain Management professors can help you with inventory management, transportation, technology supply chain, cost modeling, supply chain analytics, the design and configuration of an order fulfillment center, supply chain disruptions, supply chain network design and the management of suppliers and vendors.
What’s next? It’s time to reach out to your professor and share the problem you’re trying to solve at work. Trust me; your professors will be glad to hear from you.
Here’s some advice on the three things you should explain when you reach out:
- Problem. Describe the issue you want to solve and explain who the problem is impacting (e.g., customers, internal stakeholders)
- Context. Share context related to the problem such as, how widespread is the problem? Have there any solutions implemented in the past? Did they work? What barriers are present in the environment?
- Possible Solutions. What are some of your ideas related to how the problem can be solved?
In closing, college professors have a wealth of knowledge, and even better they can provide an external stakeholder perspective. Don’t be afraid to reach out when you need help at work.
Kyra Leigh Sutton, Ph.D., is a faculty member at Rutgers University School of Management and Labor Relations in New Brunswick, N.J., where she teaches courses in Training and Development, as well as in Staffing and Managing the 21st Century Workforce. She also has served in lead HR roles at Pitney Bowes and Assurant.