Connecting with Professors 101: Go to Office Hours Without Any Questions About the Course
By Elizabeth Randall, BBA ‘22
Have you ever spoken to someone you knew nothing about but within seconds found something in common that kept you talking for hours? I hope that this has happened to you at least once; it is one of life’s great joys.
It most recently happened to me at The University of Michigan Museum of Art (UMMA) during an event with my fellow first-year Michigan Ross BBA students (pictured above).
The “Night at the Museum” event, though it included far less Ben Stiller than I anticipated, was a mix and mingle event for first-year BBA students. It gave students the opportunity to connect with faculty and senior staff members at Michigan Ross in an informal setting and to know each other a little more deeply.
Anyway, during the event, I was talking with Professor Samantha Keppler, a Technology and Operations professor, and she mentioned that she was from Cleveland, Ohio. I had spent some time in Cleveland during my sophomore year of high school, so we had quite a bit to chat about.
We talked about how proud Clevelanders were of the hospital system there, the universities, and most importantly, the resilience of the city. We also talked about which Little Italy bakery we liked the best (Corbo’s Italian Bakery was the clear winner for both of us).
This experience was unique because it gave me the chance to speak with a professor in a way that I felt I normally would have not been able to do. We were able to connect on a personal level without having classwork looming over either of our minds.
Before my conversation ended with Professor Keppler, she left me with a piece of advice.
She told me to go to office hours without having any questions about the course. She advised me to ask questions about the professor’s research and how they got to where they are. Professor Keppler informed me that many of the professors are not teaching in their primary field of research, and they have an amplitude knowledge and experience to share on subjects unrelated to the classroom.
She told me that each one of her colleagues have a unique career path. Some attended the University of Michigan, and their first job led to the career of their dreams. Others, she said, studied technology and did not know that they wanted to pursue business until they were already in the midst of their careers. Professor Keppler’s advice intrigued me. Before this, I did not realize how dynamic a person’s path can truly be.
I wanted to share this story with you because the event at UMMA taught me the importance of creating relationships with my professors outside of the classroom. I think this is critical for all students to understand because these faculty members not only create a support network for us, but by knowing them on a personal level, we are able to discover an abundance of career paths we can follow.
Professors are able to give advice about more than how to complete a homework question. They are the people who will have our backs no matter what. I find it important to create connections with professors because they are the first line of defense in fulfilling our paths. They can recommend us for a job or internship, or simply help us to become more comfortable interacting with people in power.
I wish it didn’t take me attending a mixer like this to realize how deep and important my connection to Ross professors can be, but I’m definitely glad it happened when it did. I have made sure to attend each of my professors’ office hours, and I recommend that you do the same.
Now, go make an appointment for office hours.
What are your plans after Ross?
After Ross, I plan to pursue my Master of Accounting and receive my CPA. I hope to someday work at a Big Four accounting firm and work my way up to partner. I also hope to continue to volunteer at the University of Michigan Hospital as a patient advisor.
Who is your favorite professor at Ross?
My favorite Ross faculty member is Mary Hinesly because she pushes me to be my best self. She continues to give feedback in order for me to become a better communicator. She gives true advice and looks out for the well-being of her students.
What is the last thing you watched on Netflix? How was it?
I watched the Incredibles 2 most recently. I highly recommend it for anyone who has not seen it yet. It is my favorite movie, and I have watched it more than five times.