Looking back at the past 15 weeks, I’ve worn many different hats and have learned as much from my students as I’ve hoped they learned from me. In January when class kicks off, 15 weeks seems endless but then those weeks seem to fly by faster than a blink of an eye. Every year when class finally wraps, a part of me always wishes that we had more time. There is so much I want to teach, share, advise and prepare my students for; and I know deep down there is only so much we can cover in 15 weeks. Before I sign-off for the last time, here are three final takeaways for my students, along with all “students” in management today:
Trust Takes a Long Time to Build, But A Short Time to Lose
No matter what sort of relationship you are in, a teacher–student relationship, VP–Associate relationship or an Account Supervisor–client-contact one, in order for it to be successful there needs to be trust. Trust is a funny thing because building that trust can take some time. When a PR agency starts working with a new client, the team members put a significant amount of effort into proving to their new client how capable they truly are. They look to deliver results right out of the gate (leveraging their relationships); researching and devouring the industry (to become experts overnight), etc., all in an effort to set-the-stage for success and trust with that client. For my students, they’ve spent almost the entire semester building trust with me and working toward this final project which was the perfect opportunity for them to deliver. However, as the saying goes, trust can be lost much faster than it can be gained. One wrong step or one small mishap can set you back months of hard work. Which brings me into my second tip…
Don’t Take My Demeanor/Style for Granted
Similar to college professors, when my students are finally out in the workforce, they will encounter a lot of different personalities, and a heck of a lot of different management styles. Regardless of whether you work with a laid back Larry or a demanding David, at the end of the day, the same type of performance is expected. Just because a client is easy-going doesn’t mean they don’t expect the same results as the client who is emailing every half hour with questions. As a professor, I find my style to be different from that of my colleagues, however that does not mean I don’t hold my students and their work to a very high standard. Unfortunately, some of my students learned this the hard way when they presented their final projects last week. While the majority of my students pulled together brilliant, thoughtful and detailed presentations, two groups clearly took my demeanor as a professor for granted and pulled together presentations that were not up to par. They mistook my desire to see them succeed with being prepared, well researched and familiar with the material being presented. In short, they left me speechless and disappointed with what they gave/produced. As I tell my two sons (Tre and Christopher): never take a short-cut, never give anything but you’re very best to each and every undertaking you encounter!
Find the Right Mentor
I like to think that over the past 15 weeks I’ve been mentor to my students in addition to being Professor Nardone. Throughout the semester, I’ve tried to lay some groundwork in setting my students up for identifying a mentor once they start working; I know finding and working with the right mentor can have a big impact on a persons career. First and foremost, they need to identify themselves what they are looking to get out of the mentor-mentee relationship. From there, they need to take time to identify who the right person is for them.
It’s been quite the ride but I certainly could not have pulled off the semester without the help of my two TAs, Adam Novak and Jon Gregalis. As they say, it takes an army to build a village, and this semester would not have been the success that it was if it wasn’t for the two guys behind the scenes. Adam and Jon’s wisdom and guidance was instrumental this semester and allowed me to connect with my students on a new level. It’s with a heavy heart that I write this last ‘Cuse Chronicle post, but I hope those of you who have been following along have learned something from my experience at Syracuse this semester. My students have the potential to do something great and I am honored to have had the opportunity to teach them and learn from them this year. I know many will continue to reach out to me for advise and, proudly, many will call me a mentor. What could be more fulfilling!
This blog post is part of larger series, ‘Cuse Chronicles by a CEO, from PAN President & Founder, Philip A. Nardone, Jr., as he chronicles his experience teaching two capstones classes at Syracuse University’s Newhouse School of Public Communications