I was reading a blog post by a university professor on the subject of adjunct faculty (Tenure-track’s untouchables) when I can across the statement that “the university has a disinclination to hire their own graduates.” This seemed weird to me. I teach at a high school that has a good number of their own alumni on the faculty. On a recent visit my my university alma mater I noted that there were a good number of graduates who had returned to teach there as well. I always saw this as a good thing.
I struggled to think of why a university would have this sort of disinclination and the only thing I could think of was a fear of becoming “in breed” in some way. The flip side of that is that it can also contribute to maintaining a mission, culture and environment. Maybe if you don’t like your mission, culture or environment you’d want to go outside for faculty but in general I’d think a mix of “old” and “new” would be closer to ideal.
The cynic in me wanted to ask “are the students you are turning out not good enough to teach at your school?” What does not wanting to hire your own graduates say about your program? After a bit of this sort of non-productive thinking I refocused on myself and my own teaching. If I were starting a new company or hiring for an existing company would I want to hire my former students? Am I preparing my students for the world they are entering after graduation?
Teaching high school I think mostly about if I am preparing them to succeed in university. I’m frankly less interested in what school they attend next as I am that they are prepared for what they find when there get there. I am also concerned about their ability to perform in industry jobs. Oh I know, I know. I hear it all the time No one gets a job in computer science right out of high school.
Bah, not true at all. Most do not of course but I have had a good number of students get great summer internships and even year round jobs while still in high school over the years. They have done well enough that the companies that hired them have returned with the question “any more like so and so?” It does happen.
So would I hire my graduates? Not all of them. At least not out of high school. But some of them? In a heart beat. I can think of several I would want to hire me if I were leaving the classroom again. While I wouldn’t think of taking full credit (or in some cases any credit other than not screwing things up) I like to think I have helped prepare a few students pretty well.
The goal should be to give students the knowledge and skills they need at a level were you would feel comfortable either hiring them yourself or at least giving them a strong recommendation for someone else to hire them. It’s not about passing time or giving them the minimum to get by but giving them, at least the opportunity to acquire, the knowledge to succeed either in industry or academia. If you would not recommend a student for an appropriate job/university you should be able to answer the question “Did they not work hard enough or did you not give them enough opportunity to learn the right things?”
Yes, I want to turn out graduates I would like to hire.