By: Dyllan Bellah
I used to live in the south-western city of Tucson, Arizona, and knew relatively early on that I wanted to pursue architecture as a career. I was fortunate that my high school offered an architectural course and it gave me a foundation to explore the built world and architecture. In addition to the technical skills that my teacher gave me, he also taught us what he used to call “soft skills.” He always used to tell us that “people hire polite people” and his one statement that has stuck with me (and one that I have found to be true just about everywhere) is that people like to be acknowledged. Basically, what he was telling us was that as individuals, we should acknowledge each other. In the case of his classroom, he wanted us to greet visitors and say hello to the maintenance staff who were often in fixing the air conditioner; but in a wider context, we should acknowledge everyone from the cashier at the grocery store to the stranger standing next to you in line. The one thing we all like, no matter who we are is acknowledgement.
In short, what I’m trying to say in this blog post is don’t be afraid to talk to the people you meet here at UT; start up a conversation with the staff who work to keep your residence hall clean everyday (including weekends), and don’t be afraid to approach your professors after class to introduce yourself. Ask the man who scoops a spoon-full of mashed potatoes on your plate at the dining hall how his day is going. Often, the people you meet can become some of your closest friends – in addition to the friends you meet in your classes.
I know that when I was in high school, I was given the impression by some of my teachers that college professors didn’t care about their students and that they were more concerned with their personal careers. When I arrived on campus in the fall, I made an effort to introduce myself to all of my professors – to try and stand-out, to make myself more than just a name on a roster. For the first few weeks, the professors didn’t really remember me (understandable as some of my first-year classes had over one hundred people), but I kept saying hello, kept trying to talk to them, and eventually I was able to make connections with most of them. By doing so, I got to know one professor so well that she even introduced me to a potential employer.
So whether you’re a returning student, or someone who’s coming to campus for the first time this fall, make to effort to get to know the people around you; say hello to the other students you pass in the halls or on your way to class, and make the effort make yourself to stand out to your professors.