The ideal second career for working professionals
Why a side gig lecturing can further enhance professional development.
The thought about doing supplemental work may have come into the minds of most professionals, whether it be paid or volunteer work. Reasons vary, as some are looking to gain further experience in parallel with a current professional career, have supplementary income, give back to the local community, or simply to just be busy after work hours by embarking on a new hobby.
A side gig as a lecturer can be an option – and quite a fulfilling one. This can be one-off guest lecture slots or teaching a course throughout an academic semester. The benefits of having the opportunity as a lecturer can pay huge dividends with respect to one’s professional development.
Once people are pretty established in their career, it might be the right time to find a suitable opportunity in teaching. There are quite a few things to demystify with a side career as a lecturer. This is particularly true for working professionals who might be interested in working as part-time lecturers, or also known in academia as an adjunct lecturer.
First, although many are, part-time lecturers who are currently working in industry do not necessarily have to be CEOs or senior executives. Nevertheless, having a solid background and specialism in the area you plan to teach is obviously expected. This will, in many cases, mean an established number of years of work experience. Also, expect most lecturing positions, at least university-level, to require minimum a PhD or a Master’s degree coupled with significant work experience.
Second, many think that being a university lecturer means that you have to be only in academic when you start off; that is not necessarily the case. This is especially true in the business field, where many institutions do recruit lecturers who are currently in the industry – from economics, marketing, accounting, international business, trade and finance. After all, those in industry who are simultaneously teaching students can offer insight, examples of current trends, and practical knowledge.
Third, those who may want to lecture do not necessarily have to teach at university-level. True, many who pursue a side career as lecturers usually will teach university-level students but there are plenty of opportunities as well outside of university-level courses. These include volunteering to teach courses at charities, high schools, places of worship, and with adults and senior citizens. These can range from teaching entrepreneurialism to young people or best accounting practices to senior citizens.
Quite a few will struggle to pull off a part-time teaching gig with full-time work commitments, especially for those with families. After all, teaching will take up some time, which in many cases will be in the evenings or during work hours. Also, one’s full-time job is the main priority, so making sure the organization you work for will be happy with a side gig lecturing is important. Yet, quite a few of us know senior-level executives who seem to juggle pretty stressful careers and also part-time lecturing. So it is not impossible.
To motivate more non-academia working professionals to consider a part-time career lecturing at some point, here are some reasons why it can boost your professional development:
INTERPERSONAL SKILLS WILL BE FINE-TUNED
Lecturing will improve interpersonal skills without even realizing it, especially with communication, listening, and writing skills. Yes, at our nine-to-five jobs we have all gained a solid foundation in interpersonal skills. But teaching will polish it even further. For instance, the most obvious will be presentation skills. Many of us do struggle to speak in front of an audience, no matter how senior we are in an organization. In fact, public speaking is often mentioned as people’s biggest fear. A tiny minority love public speaking but most people will have some degree of nervousness and fear.
With lecturing, as the job requires constant presentation and communication skills, through time, even for those who might feel a bit nervous it will seem almost effortless to go in front of a group of people and speak, especially with strong authority.
Other interpersonal skills will improve as well, such as listening and writing. For listening, as the lecturer is the one teaching, students will be constantly asking questions and lecturers will have to be alert and listen carefully. In addition, especially if the lecturing opportunity will be at a university, lecturers will have to be grading students. For those who will have students giving presentations as part of an assessment, listening skills dramatically improves too. This also applies with writing. Although lecturers are not writing per say, it is the students that will be doing that. Lecturers will have the responsibility to grade papers, essays and exams; through time it will be second nature to know what constitutes as an A paper or a C grade paper. This is a great transferable skill for the workplace as in your full-time job you’d be able to assess reports, bids, and other documents at ease and more efficient, maybe even knowing immediately what would constitute as an A or C strategy report.
TIME MANAGEMENT AND FLEXIBILITY WILL IMPROVE DRAMATICALLY
It sounds simple: making sure learning objectives are covered in a given time-frame. However, it is a balance of being able to cover that and also to be flexible in delivery that will make people learn this valuable skill through lecturing experience. Whether it be a course of one hour or a semester long course, which in the United States most college courses are 45-48 contact hours, time management will be something that will be grasped well.
During work meetings, both internally and externally, many of us do or know someone who tend to be very adherent to an agenda. For lecturing, people have to learn to be adaptable to balance both teaching learning objectives and flexibility in terms of time and also method of delivery.
Lecturing puts people in unforeseeable circumstances. In general, when one is public speaking the general rule is anything can happen. Prior to a lecture, a lecturer might have the greatest agenda or plan for today’s class, but during class that may not go according to plan. Students might not be engaged or too engaged at one of the subtopics, there might be a challenge over the lecturer’s authority and knowledge at a certain area, or there might even be a fire alarm. This is why lecturers do learn to think on their feet and carry on effortlessly, something many in the workplace might struggle to copy with. With time management and with flexibility, this is a great habit to acquire. Lecturers are constantly exposed to this environment and such a great transferrable skill to learn in the workplace.
THOUGHT LEADERSHIP TAKEN TO A NEW LEVEL
For those who have gained a level of seniority in their work, whether as a requirement or at least a moral obligation, there is always talk of the idea of thought leadership. In many organizations, there is a culture of promoting this, especially with senior level workers instilling thought leadership to more junior level of staff.
By teaching, this allows thought leadership to be taken to the next level, as the teaching is done externally in the local community. For those looking to educate university or non-university students, to showcase and teach an area of specialism is a great way to be proactive with respect to though leadership. And if thought leadership is not part of your company culture, at least you have given back to the local community. Teaching and getting into academia is also a great launch pad for those who want to be established thought leaders in their field, if in the long-term professionals are looking to write pieces on their own or be featured in the media about their expertise.
Educating a group new to a topic is indeed rewarding. It will make part-time adjunct lecturers more energized and motivated that a good deed was done by giving back to the local community in some capacity. This definitely makes working professionals who have side gigs as adjunct lecturers stand out from the rest of their colleagues who are not giving back to the community. Work related or not, doing good deeds, in this case education, is a great way to pay it forward.
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