Know any social media or career courses I could be a good fit to teach? Contact me!
Toward the end of 2013 when FindSpark really started to take off and I had been doing lots of guest lecturing and speaking, I decided I wanted to become an adjunct professor. I thought it’d be incredible to be with a group of students over an entire semester, where you could really make an impact. I also love teaching through speaking: it’s one of my greatest strengths.
I set the goal to become an adjunct in 2014, and made a concerted effort to explore ways I could make that happen using a variety of strategies. None of those included getting a Masters.
In 2014, I become an adjunct professor at not just one, but two schools, teaching 3 different courses.
Teaching is an incredible experience and something I really enjoy. It’s challenging, fun, and according to (a majority) of my students and my peer reviews; I’m really good at it.
At this point, I’ve had 300+ students. You can follow my teaching adventures via the hashtag #professormiethner.
I’ve met a lot of folks who are interested in teaching and becoming adjuncts as well, so I thought I’d share more about my experience and tips for getting into teaching.
Me the day I discovered the FIT teacher's lounge after 2 years!
Talk to other professors
This was the first thing I did. I grabbed coffee with anyone who I knew who was currently or formerly a professor. Talk to as many professors you can at different schools; adjuncts and full-time. You can find information on what departments look for, openings, pay rates, and more.
Look for schools that hire people like you
Some schools require a Masters degree, some don’t. Some have only full-time professors, some have only working professionals as professors. Do the research to narrow down the schools that would want someone with your background.
Know the subjects you want to teach and tell people
If you want to be a professor, I’m assuming there is something you’re really passionate about that you want to share with others. Know what those things are so you can tell people when you meet with them, and put it out there on the internet and on social media.
For me, I was posting something to this effect on my LinkedIn:
I’m currently looking for adjunct professor roles in social media, networking, career development, the job hunt, and similar topics. Please keep me in mind!
Find classes that exist that you could teach
Once you know the topics you’re interested in teaching, look for classes you’d be able to teach based on the course descriptions. It’s easier to apply to teach courses that always exist than to create new courses. It’s also incredibly easy to look up majors, departments, and courses - and the people involved in them.
Start with continuing education classes
At some schools it’s easier to get started teaching continuing ed classes than it is to get into undergrad courses. Reach out to that department to request a meeting and share your interest, expertise, and what classes you'd like to teach. It's also easier to pitch a new continuing ed class than an undergrad course.
Most places will want to hire people with some level of speaking experience like guest lectures and speaking engagements at colleges. As you research schools, connect with professors, and look up classes, volunteer to guest lecture in the relevant classes you find. Some schools offer honorariums, many don't. It's always worth it to ask.
Put together a CV
A CV is more common in academia than the resume, and they are slightly different. A CV lists everything you’ve ever done, including all speaking engagements and press mentions. When you meet with professors, ask them if they will share theirs so you have an example.
These are all the steps that I took during my search. Eventually, I was hired to co-teach a class at School of Visual Arts called “The Business of Being an Artist.” I was referred by one of the people who I met up with for a coffee — he asked me to co-teach with him. That same semester, I was referred to teach career and internship courses as LIM College, and ended up teaching two different courses — teaching a total of 3 courses Fall of 2014.
Since then, I continue to teach at School of Visual Arts, and picked up another class, “Social Media Applications” at Fashion Institute of Technology. I was referred to that class by the teachers who used to teach it after guest lecturing in it for years.
You can see some of the viral projects my students have created here and here.
My "viral" FIT Social Media Class syllabus tweet
Have any other questions about how to become an adjunct professor? Ask them in the comments!
Know any social media or career courses I could be a good fit to teach? Don’t hesitate to contact me! I’m always interested in exploring new classes to take on and have experience teaching IRL and remote classes.