Former students provide sharing and learning opportunities

I was reminded of one of the many great aspects about teaching when I attended UF’s Career Showcase — the benefits gained from former students.

I ran into three former students at the Showcase, all of whom were there working the event.

Nadene Reynolds, Assistant Director for Employer Development for the Career Resource Center, overlooks the Career Showcase.

I saw Nadene Reynolds at the check-in table. Nadene is a former student who graduated and became the Career Resource Center’s career contact for the College of Journalism and Communications. Now she’s Assistant Director for Employer Development and was busy making sure all was going well for the event, which she had a major role in setting up.

When Nadene was a career contact, she was a guest speaker several times in my introductory media writing class — the very course she had taken with me. Not only did she help motivate students to explore opportunities provided by the Career Resource Center but she shared stories with the students that helped them see the value of their learning experience.

She talked about the importance of learning grammar rules (one of the course objectives) and that she still referred to the grammar book from the course. (“Don’t sell that grammar book back to the bookstore,” she advised the students.)  Her fresh-in-a-new-job perspective was a great motivator to the students. She also has been a great resource, as I have students contact her with career-related questions.

I found two of my former students staffing the Teach for America table. Caity Hickey is a Recruitment Manager for Teach for America, and Rebecca Danta is the UF Campus Campaign Coordinator.

Caity Hickey (on left) and Rebecca Danta talk with students at the Teach for America table at the UF Career Showcase.

I asked Caity what she was looking for in the resumes that she evaluates as a recruiter. One of the early assignment in the media-writing course is writing a resume. So I’m always interested in what recruiters are looking for so I can incorporate that advice into the directions and evaluation criteria for the assignment.

Rebecca, who still is a UF student, provided me with an update on her summer internship and volunteered to come speak to my class about the opportunities available with Teach for America.

All three provided information that is helpful in my teaching — reinforcing course activities and providing up-to-date insights on the job/internship market.

Those contacts with former students who are helpful to my own professional development came to mind when I read Gina Amaro Rudan’s article in Forbes — “Why You Should Be Networking with People Half Your Age.” She says those Gen Yers (20 to 35) can provide those of us in other population age groups a different perspective and insight into new trends, technology use, and an appreciation for “an entrepreneurial lifestyle.”

I agree.

When Rudan discussed the challenge some people can have in finding those creative Gen Yers to develop a relationship with, I knew that wasn’t a challenge for me. Being a teacher, I am fortunate to work with those very individuals and to maintain contact with a number of those students even after they graduate.

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