I spent most of my earlier professional career in the hospitality industry, and I am often asked why I decided to switch careers and teach. The short answer is passion for training! I began entertaining the thought of teaching when I first entered college. I didn’t just wake up one day and decide to become a professor. As an undergrad, my goal was to work my way up to the position of a General Manager within a 5-star hotel and then retire early so that I can teach. I loved the hospitality industry and was passionate about working in operations. However, something happened during my tenure within the industry; I was given the opportunity to train a young man, and for some reason, the hotel that I was working for at the time could not locate the Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) manual for the department. Without a formal SOP or task list, I had to develop my own SOP and training material for this young man. It was like developing an entire course from scratch, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. The training plan I was putting together was supposed to be a two-week plan, but the trainee was able to learn and master his new job in less than a week. I realized at that point that I was good at developing training materials and teaching. And more importantly, I loved it! I gained more satisfaction from training another person than from anything else I had done within the industry. It was at that point that my professional career goal began to shift, and I decided to pursue a career in academia as soon as I was done with grad school. There was something fulfilling about teaching another person how to do something that was going to allow him to earn a living, be a productive team member, and make him a valuable asset to the company. That experience reminded me of the proverb that says, “If you give a man a fish, you feed him for a day. If you teach a man to fish, you feed him for a lifetime.” Well, I was privileged to have had the opportunity to teach that young man to fish. Becoming a full-time educator has allowed me to teach over a thousand students how to “fish” and that, at least in my book, is one way of making a true difference in this world–one student at a time.
And that’s why I chose to teach.