I have decided to pursue something that I have never done before. This is a very big departure from what I am currently doing, and if all goes to plan, I will be keeping my day job and adding this to it. I am going to document the progress and the steps I am taking in hopes of this helping someone else do the same.
I want to teach at Arizona State University.
Yes, you read that correctly. Despite the fact that I have no classroom teaching experience, and I have been in the sales world my whole life. Despite not having a Master’s Degree, which is typically a requirement for teaching at the university level. This may sound like I have too much stacked against me, but allow me to put the spin on it that I do in my mind.
I believe that anything can be accomplished if you truly focus your effort and attention in the right places. A lot can be accomplished with desire, effort and a couple of connections. I want to share an example of what I do when it comes to this process. You know what the goal is, so now I want to share the step by step process I have been using to get to this point. Although I watched “The Secret” like lots of other people, there is a fine line between sitting around wishing for something to come into your life, versus taking action and “making” something happen. Here are the action steps I have taken so far as an example of what I am talking about:
I asked my Racquetball Classes at ASU if any was in a class where guest speakers were invited in. I had one or two people raise their hand, and I spoke to them directly about my desire to be a guest speaker in the Business School.
I got the attention of the professor who had guest speakers, thanks to an email introduction from a student. Through a series of emails, we got familiar with one another, and after about eight months I was able to speak to three classes back to back to back. Talk about jumping in the deep end! It was my first talks ever, and each class was about 250 kids.
I did a good enough job to impress, and was invited back at a date to be determined. This was key…if I had under performed, this would have ended right there.
Through another friend, I got introduced to a professor at NAU, and repeated the process. Now I have speaking credits as a guest lecturer at two state universities, both with highly respected Business Schools.
After one of the talks at ASU, the professor there asked me if I ever thought about teaching at the university. If I had a do-over on my life’s plan, that would have been exactly what I would be doing right now. I expressed my interest, and he offered to make an introduction to the department head he works under.
I met with the department head within a week, and after sitting and discussing my desire to teach, he asked for my resume. I sent it to him a few days later, needing time to update it, and add everything I could that I thought was strengthen my case.
After review of my resume, he concluded that I would be a much better fit for the Marketing Dept., and he sent my resume along to his contact there. With this, I have avoided the usual approach of logging into the website and going through the “proper channels” to get an interview. I think this greatly enhances my chance of pulling this off.
As of the first day of December, this is where I am at in the process….
Despite not having any real classroom experience, I think I am a teacher at heart, and always have been. I have been teaching racquetball, both private and group lessons, for my entire adult life. I am in the middle of my 13th season as the coach of the ASU Racquetball team, so I have spent a lot of time with this age group of kids. I can speak their language better than most my age. As a coach, I end up playing counselor and parent more often than I ever imagined. Because of this I feel like I understand, to a degree, what kids today are struggling with. I have a lot to share, and the desire to do so.
Here is one hurdle that I am working around right out of the gate…I do not have a Master’s Degree. If I did, I would be in, no problem. But instead I went to NAU for a year, then I went on extended hiatus from school to pursue my Professional Racquetball career, and then finished through the University of Phoenix with a Business Marketing degree. Being in sales, I did not feel the need or see the benefit to pursue my (classroom based) education, but rather learn and grow in the business world. I have had some really good mentors along the way, and learned from my association with them. There is much to learn in school in preparation for the real world, but I personally believe that is only scratching the surface. Real world business experience is going to outweigh book smarts pretty quickly. This is partly why I believe I can contribute and teach; I have the base of a college education, but I also have been out in the business world for over twenty-five years.
In this case, the side door entry has been facilitated by my doing some talks at ASU in the WP Carey Business School. It would be an honor and a privilege to become part of the staff of this prestigious business school with a stellar reputation. From a selfish perspective, the lifestyle of working a couple of days a week, then having summers off as an eventual end goal of this process is highly appealing. This would support my fly fishing habit a lot better, which of course will up the happiness quotient in my life, as I have written about before. I think the ultimate goal in life is to have a meaningful career that contributes to the greater good, while balancing that with personal pursuits of passion. That is about as good as it gets in my book.
I wish you luck in your endeavors, whatever they may be.