There are lots of things to like about my job, but if I had to pick a favorite, it would be watching my students transition from teenagers to professionals.
There are a variety of paths that students choose upon graduation and in the years that follow – some work overseas, some perform a year or two of service, some change careers, and some start families.
In a few cases, I have even taught the children of former students – yes, I am that old. I don’t think I’ll have the opportunity to teach the grandchildren of any former students, but if I did, then I would know it’s time to retire.
As I wrote in a previous post, I have found LinkedIn to be quite useful as a way to stay in touch with former students and their accomplishments.
I’ve used these contacts as a source for guest speakers, and today was one such example.
This student graduated in 2012 and her career is off to a wonderful start working in Human Resources at a major pharmaceutical firm. She has had the chance to do a good bit of travel over the years, even living in London for close to a year. As I watched her speaking to my class today, I couldn’t help but think back to when she was a freshman in my class over 10 years ago. I could not have been more impressed by the confident and successful professional she has become.
(As an aside, I have had her a guest speaker a few times because I consider HR to be one of the most important functions in a business, but it is often ignored in business schools, Villanova included. She does a great job of describing the strategic role that HR can play in an organization, and has gotten several students to think about a possible career in HR. Today, she shared the following video of Jack Welch talking about the value of HR:
As usual, accountants get picked on…)
I like having a variety of speakers so that students can get exposed to a variety of careers and career paths, and I always make a point to tell my students that these successful professionals were sitting exactly where they were not that long ago. The speakers are great role models for the students.
I’ll admit that I am a bit biased in trying to find guest speakers who have changed their careers dramatically. For example:
- One former student had a very successful career in insurance but is now pursuing his passion for mindfulness and meditation and offering seminars on the benefits of such practices to executives.
- Another student took a job with one of the Big 4 professional services firms, but then within a year decided to pursue a degree in higher education administration, and is now director of student involvement at a major University.
- Another student, who graduated at the top of her class at Villanova, has decided to pursue a Masters degree in Nutrition.
- I have had a few students become teachers – at all levels – from grade school to high school to college, and a couple of students have become medical professionals.
- A few former students have gone into the Peace Corps and Teach for America type organizations right after graduation.
I think such stories are worth hearing to let my students know that you should never feel stuck in your career, that it is possible to make a successful career change.
Watching my former students navigate their way through life after graduation brings me great joy, and I wish them continued success.
Just please don’t send your grandchildren to Villanova if I am still there…