While some of my colleagues across the country are welcoming new students to campus and starting classes already, we on the quarter system still have some time yet before students arrive and are still busy planning for them. With the start of the new school year approaching, I was pondering giving some encouragement and doing the usual “Hang in there” speech. However, I have a different message. Eat Lunch and ask a colleague to join you.
One of my favorite professional development things to do is have lunch with colleagues from across campus and learn what they are doing, get advice on projects I am working on, or simply talk to someone outside my office. I use lunch as a time to engage and learn about things that I am curious of but don’t have the time or financial resources to invest in at this point in my career. Going to lunch with colleagues is a great way to have “Cheap but beneficial” development.
My calendar this week has been filled with lunches with colleagues from student activities, community service, and new student programs. These are all areas that I have a special interest in however are not in my portfolio (at least not Yet J). During these lunches, I ask questions and process information just as I would at a national conference, except the presenter is talking directly to me. I also use this time to meet with professionals who have jobs I would love to have one day. Of course I don’t tell them that but I do show interest, because you never know when they are looking for an outside perspective or someone to help on a committee.
While I understand that everyone does not have WOO (Winning Others Over) as a top five strength, I do know that professional development is expensive and campus budgets are tight. However you cannot allow those things to stop you from being engaged in what is happening around you and gaining valuable knowledge that will help you in your future roles. Maybe lunch can be used as a way to gain insight and connect with people. Sometimes you need a refresher. That’s my main reason beyond the sessions for going to national conferences. My attendance is mostly due to me needing some refreshing engagement from other colleagues and a chance to connect and engage with peers who do the same work.
So start emailing and asking for lunch meetings. When is the last time you have heard of someone turning down the opportunity to talk about themself?