Keeping in touch with professors after graduation?

The school experience. School related queries, discussions, and stories that aren't specific to a subject.

Moderators: gmalivuk, Moderators General, Prelates

User avatar
Hofstadter'sLaw
Posts: 154
Joined: Sun Jun 05, 2011 4:09 am UTC

Keeping in touch with professors after graduation?

Postby Hofstadter'sLaw » Tue Jun 07, 2011 6:03 pm UTC

So, I graduate from college this week. I had e-mailed one of my professors to ask him about something, and in one of his replying e-mails, after we discussed our plans for the summer, he told me to “keep in touch.” I’m not sure to what extent to “keep in touch” with him and what I should be writing to him about exactly. Should I e-mail him again in a couple weeks? A couple months? Can I write about stupid things like about how I read a particularly awesome book recently? Or do I only e-mail him if I have “important” news, like getting a decent job?

I had one of his classes as a freshman and again as a senior, and he “directed” my senior project. We have some of the same interests and he thinks I’m a good writer, so I guess we’re on good terms. We’re not close enough that we’ve seen each other outside of school, text each other, or any of that. I guess I’m a little surprised that he’s interested in keeping in touch since I won’t be his student anymore. And I realize I’m socially awkward and inept, so I want to make sure I don’t annoy or offend him.

So, any advice? Anyone else keep in touch with professors after graduation?

User avatar
KestrelLowing
Posts: 1124
Joined: Mon Mar 22, 2010 6:57 pm UTC
Location: Michigan

Re: Keeping in touch with professors after graduation?

Postby KestrelLowing » Tue Jun 07, 2011 6:12 pm UTC

Just judging from what you said, my guess is that you were a good student, he approves of you and wouldn't be opposed to writing a letter of recontamination for you. I kind of think that's a major thing - he'll remember you and be able to write you recommendations if necessary. My guess is he'd also like to know when/where you get a job.

I'm not the greatest at social situations, but I'd say it'd be fine to email him 'important news', but not sure about the not-so-important stuff unless it maybe directly relates to his research interest or something like that.

User avatar
Izawwlgood
WINNING
Posts: 18686
Joined: Mon Nov 19, 2007 3:55 pm UTC
Location: There may be lovelier lovelies...

Re: Keeping in touch with professors after graduation?

Postby Izawwlgood » Tue Jun 07, 2011 6:13 pm UTC

If you had a good rapport with the dude, sent him an email at the next junction of your life. I wouldn't sent boring shit unless it's particularly pertinent, but I think professors who say "Keep in touch" probably mean it, and are interested to hear what their students are up to.

FWIW, I emailed my Organic chem professor and my immunology professors about a new job and getting into graduate school, even though those events were about two years, and later, five years, after I took classes with them.

Gauge their response, if they don't reply, don't continue writing.
... with gigantic melancholies and gigantic mirth, to tread the jeweled thrones of the Earth under his sandalled feet.

User avatar
Hofstadter'sLaw
Posts: 154
Joined: Sun Jun 05, 2011 4:09 am UTC

Re: Keeping in touch with professors after graduation?

Postby Hofstadter'sLaw » Tue Jun 07, 2011 7:56 pm UTC

He's an English professor, and I'm an English major, so we wouldn't be talking about research of any kind. That's why I mentioned telling him about particularly good books related to our mutual interests or something. If it's better to just e-mail him about major things, like getting a job or getting something published, I'd be fine with that. I don't want to be creepy/annoying.

He did actually mention that I should let him know if I need a recommendation letter. I've already gotten into grad school and I probably won't be going into jobs that involve much writing, so I don't think I'll need a recommendation letter from him though.

Izawwlgood, your professors still remembered you after two and then five years? You must have really made an impression on them.

User avatar
Bakemaster
pretty nice future dick
Posts: 8933
Joined: Fri Jul 06, 2007 2:33 pm UTC
Location: One of those hot places

Re: Keeping in touch with professors after graduation?

Postby Bakemaster » Tue Jun 07, 2011 9:54 pm UTC

It helps if you actually do keep in touch. One of my teachers from music school sent me a wedding present. I have a standing offer for lunch with one of my teachers from last Spring, who is an awesomely chill guy. Just send news if cool things happen, or forward an interesting thing you read, or ask a question. Just treat them like people you know who know stuff and are totally okay with, you know, talking with you about stuff. Because that's pretty much what your professors are.
Image
c0 = 2.13085531 × 1014 smoots per fortnight
"Apparently you can't summon an alternate timeline clone of your inner demon, guys! Remember that." —Noc

User avatar
Izawwlgood
WINNING
Posts: 18686
Joined: Mon Nov 19, 2007 3:55 pm UTC
Location: There may be lovelier lovelies...

Re: Keeping in touch with professors after graduation?

Postby Izawwlgood » Tue Jun 07, 2011 10:38 pm UTC

Hofstader'sLaw wrote:Izawwlgood, your professors still remembered you after two and then five years? You must have really made an impression on them.

Well I TA'd for one, and had a number of independent studies with the other. And I went to a pretty small school. But frankly, if you have even a moderately good rapport with a professor, I wouldn't be surprised if they remembered you years later. Obviously it depends on the school; a kindly gregarious prof who teaches 2,000 person lecture series may not remember kids they had even a friendly relationship with. But you never know! They may surprise you!
Hofstader'sLaw wrote:If it's better to just e-mail him about major things, like getting a job or getting something published, I'd be fine with that. I don't want to be creepy/annoying.

I'd say keep the emails roughly to whatever context you had while at school. Obviously they're not grading/evaluating you anymore, so you can be a little looser, but you may still want to use them for networking/references in the future, so it may pay to keep it fairly professional. Of course, a letter of recommendation for jobs or academic programs really shine if the author actually likes you, so you know, don't be a total robot.

I guess you should just treat this professor as an adult friend that you have a good working relationship with. Don't tell him how crunk you got at that blowout party, but feel free to tell them about for pleasure reading you've enjoyed that you think he might too.
... with gigantic melancholies and gigantic mirth, to tread the jeweled thrones of the Earth under his sandalled feet.

User avatar
Solt
Posts: 1912
Joined: Tue Mar 27, 2007 5:08 am UTC
Location: California

Re: Keeping in touch with professors after graduation?

Postby Solt » Wed Jun 08, 2011 7:07 am UTC

Wouldn't hurt if you went to your professor for advice too, if you need it. It's totally within the bounds of your relationship. Is the advice the point? Maybe, maybe not, depends on what kind of challenges lie in your future. But it never hurts to maintain relationships with smart, successful people, especially when they invite you to.
"Welding was faster, cheaper and, in theory,
produced a more reliable product. But sailors do
not float on theory, and the welded tankers had a
most annoying habit of splitting in two."
-J.W. Morris

User avatar
Hofstadter'sLaw
Posts: 154
Joined: Sun Jun 05, 2011 4:09 am UTC

Re: Keeping in touch with professors after graduation?

Postby Hofstadter'sLaw » Wed Jun 08, 2011 7:10 pm UTC

Bakemaster wrote:treat them like people you know who know stuff and are totally okay with, you know, talking with you about stuff. Because that's pretty much what your professors are.


Izawwlgood wrote:I guess you should just treat this professor as an adult friend that you have a good working relationship with. Don't tell him how crunk you got at that blowout party, but feel free to tell them about for pleasure reading you've enjoyed that you think he might too.


I like this advice (treating him like an approachable person/adult friend to an extent). =]

Solt wrote:Wouldn't hurt if you went to your professor for advice too, if you need it. It's totally within the bounds of your relationship. Is the advice the point? Maybe, maybe not, depends on what kind of challenges lie in your future. But it never hurts to maintain relationships with smart, successful people, especially when they invite you to.

Ah. Good point. If I was trying to get something short-ish published, I'd appreaciate him looking over the piece and critiquing it. =]

User avatar
charolastra
Posts: 333
Joined: Sat Oct 09, 2010 8:37 pm UTC
Location: Massachusetts
Contact:

Re: Keeping in touch with professors after graduation?

Postby charolastra » Mon Jun 13, 2011 7:16 pm UTC

When I got my first job, there were 3 or 4 professors I emailed. Then, when I got sick, there were a few more that I emailed to let know (and also to justify my less-than-stellar performance toward the end of college due to health issues). I get lunch every so often with one of my old professors (note: I now work at my alma mater) and occasionally network with some of his other "favorites" out of his 50 year career. But yeah - big things. The latter professor and I swap emails about Mexico and Bolivia fairly regularly but that's part of a standard that he set.

User avatar
modularblues
Posts: 689
Joined: Sun Nov 08, 2009 8:33 am UTC
Location: Escher's Wonderland
Contact:

Re: Keeping in touch with professors after graduation?

Postby modularblues » Sat Jun 18, 2011 7:28 pm UTC

I got my Masters two years ago and now doing a PhD at a different place. When I was visiting my family & friends, I dropped by my undergrad advisor's office to say hi. Told him about my research and found out that he demolished his old house and built a new one in the same place. I also said hi to other dept. admins that I was in frequent contact with. I'm not one to randomly chat up people in networking receptions at say, conferences, but I do find it a tad easier to reconnect with some people.

User avatar
Strawberry Moon
Posts: 4
Joined: Fri Jul 01, 2011 3:23 am UTC

Re: Keeping in touch with professors after graduation?

Postby Strawberry Moon » Sat Jul 02, 2011 4:50 am UTC

I'd definitely write an e-mail with both something relevant that you could use their help on and something else more casual.

I've had a similar issue too, though I'm still in school. Last semester I asked a professor I had a decent relationship with if it would be alright to keep in touch through e-mail over the summer and he said that was fine. Things went well for a little while then he just stopped replying. I don't know if I started to come off as an annoying creep or what happened because all I did was ask some questions on a book he suggested I read. It's depressing that I probably lost a possible useful future resource or friend.

User avatar
D.B.
Posts: 197
Joined: Wed Sep 09, 2009 3:08 pm UTC

Re: Keeping in touch with professors after graduation?

Postby D.B. » Sat Jul 02, 2011 11:07 am UTC

Strawberry Moon wrote:I've had a similar issue too, though I'm still in school. Last semester I asked a professor I had a decent relationship with if it would be alright to keep in touch through e-mail over the summer and he said that was fine. Things went well for a little while then he just stopped replying. I don't know if I started to come off as an annoying creep or what happened because all I did was ask some questions on a book he suggested I read. It's depressing that I probably lost a possible useful future resource or friend.


It's maybe not as bad as you think. I've been very lucky to get email replied from my advisor at all, and I'm one of his actual students :D . Your professor is quite possibly just very busy with stuff (summer is a great time to do research, publish papers, hunt out funding - you know, their actual job) and, honestly, you're going to be quite low down on their priority list. Doesn't mean they don't like you and won't want to talk to you again. Your email may have just ended up being bumped to page 2 of their inbox while they got more time critical stuff done, and then forgotten about.

Leave it for now and get in touch with them again once the holidays are done. Worth trying to maintain the contact.

User avatar
Hofstadter'sLaw
Posts: 154
Joined: Sun Jun 05, 2011 4:09 am UTC

Re: Keeping in touch with professors after graduation?

Postby Hofstadter'sLaw » Mon Jul 04, 2011 12:12 am UTC

D.B. wrote:
Strawberry Moon wrote:I've had a similar issue too, though I'm still in school. Last semester I asked a professor I had a decent relationship with if it would be alright to keep in touch through e-mail over the summer and he said that was fine. Things went well for a little while then he just stopped replying. I don't know if I started to come off as an annoying creep or what happened because all I did was ask some questions on a book he suggested I read. It's depressing that I probably lost a possible useful future resource or friend.


It's maybe not as bad as you think. I've been very lucky to get email replied from my advisor at all, and I'm one of his actual students :D . Your professor is quite possibly just very busy with stuff (summer is a great time to do research, publish papers, hunt out funding - you know, their actual job) and, honestly, you're going to be quite low down on their priority list. Doesn't mean they don't like you and won't want to talk to you again. Your email may have just ended up being bumped to page 2 of their inbox while they got more time critical stuff done, and then forgotten about.

Leave it for now and get in touch with them again once the holidays are done. Worth trying to maintain the contact.


I agree that they could have just gotten busy. I took a few classes with one professor that ended up writing me a recommendation letter. We exchanged a few e-mails back and forth about how my grad school applications were going and a new class she wanted me to help her pick material for, and then she just randomly never replied to my last e-mail. She teaches five classes though, so she deals with e-mails from a lot of students. I know she wasn't annoyed with me because I saw her a few weeks later and had a nice convo with her.

User avatar
freakish777
Posts: 354
Joined: Wed Jul 13, 2011 2:14 pm UTC

Re: Keeping in touch with professors after graduation?

Postby freakish777 » Fri Jul 15, 2011 9:21 pm UTC

KestrelLowing wrote:letter of recontamination




::giggles::



I would send him updates with Job offers you get. I mean if you get multiple job offers (unlikely in this economy, but hey you never know) they might have a colleague who could offer you advice like "Company X sucks, don't work for them" or "Company Y has some cool research going on in sub-field Z of whatever you studied in my class, that could be really cool."

I would also, depending on how well you knew him, send articles that you think he might be interested in. CompSci professor who taught an AI class? "Hey I read this interesting article about MIT professors using the Civilization game and it's instruction manual as a way to do Natural Language Understanding (insert article link). NLU seems cool, what do you know about it? Can you point me to someone with a lot of experience with it?"


Return to “School”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 7 guests