Although you meet most faculty members as teachers in one of your classes, it is no secret that everyone has a favorite teaching style and a favorite teacher or two. Teachers are great sources of career advice, both when they are giving it in class, talking about their subject of interest, or when they talk to you about how to use your academic knowledge to get a job.
Professors are professionals themselves and you can take note of what they do in order to become good at what they do professionally. Professors are your first professional references. The professors you are impressed with are usually impressive because they are knowledgeable about the field in which they teach, but also able to communicate their knowledge, and able to get others interested in what they know. All of these qualities are relevant to any professional career.
Because they enjoy thinking about how things work, professors are also good at thinking about how careers work, not only their own but anyone’s. What they teach you in class will help you to recognize competent and generous people in the professional world. Their positive attitude towards professionalism will help you to practice being a professional yourself, not because you are forced to be one, but because people who can express themselves clearly, and show confidence in their knowledge, are likely to find people who want to listen to them and work with them. Even if you ask them for an opinion years after graduation, they will be happy to think with you through the problem you present, and happy to see you working to improve your life through your work.
Read on about advice from peers and other informal sources…