If I could offer a word of advice to anyone entering the realm of SPEA in the near future, it would be to initiate professional communication with faculty members as soon as possible.
Start to develop relationships with professors early. Stop by for office hours and chat about relevant happenings in your concentration, project ideas or career prospects on a regular basis. In my experience, most faculty are happy to do this and usually offer honest feedback about schoolwork or career guidance. Note: It is important to remember that these are busy people and their time is valuable!
If you’re anything like me then you’ll need to remind yourself frequently about the other half of effective communication…listening. Try it. It can be truly enlightening!
Don’t worry if you aren’t a suave business person right away. Practice makes perfect, and graduate school is a great venue for practice (plus it’s pretty hard to get fired, so be creative!). This will make talking with employers feel much more natural and most likely to minimize stress in the transition from school to full-time work.
Remember, SPEA is a professional graduate program and the goal for most of us is to have a job upon graduation (correct me if I’m wrong here). Establishing professional relationships with faculty not only may provide solid academic references, but also may uncover long-lasting resources of knowledge and advisement.