Office hours could be much more valuable to students than just being a step closer to achieving a good grade in one class.
Jack Klotz, a recording engineer at Temple, said he believes establishing positive relationships with professors can help students break into their desired field.
“Journalism, television, web design, gaming, film, music – these are all businesses that are built on relationships,” Klotz said. “People talk about them in terms of networking.”
Klotz considers his own experiences to be examples of when a connection with a professor or classmates has paid off. During his undergraduate years, Klotz said, he had a professor that redirected his life: Jim Gallagher, an adjunct instructor for the School of Media and Communication.
Gallagher introduced Klotz to the profession of a recording engineer and informed him about a job opening at Sigma Sound.
Not only did his relationship with Gallagher benefit his career, but his classmate also came to his aide. She had been hired as an associate producer for a television company, told her boss about Klotz’s talent at audio producing and helped him get a job.
“Networking starts with your classmates,” Klotz said. “You’ll be calling them to give them work, and they’ll be calling you to give you work early on.”
It was because of this experience in the field of television that Klotz said he was hired for the job Gallagher had recommended at Sigma Sound.
“They’d never had an applicant, because it was a famous music recording studio,” Klotz said.“They’d never had anyone apply for a position there before who had any TV experience.”
A few years later, Sigma Sound switched hands, and its staff was laid off. Although it could have been an unfortunate setback, Klotz instead received a call from Gallagher, advising him to take up teaching.
“He said, ‘Well, I just started teaching at this school. You would be perfect. You should come do it,’” Klotz said. “I had never thought about teaching. Long story short, I went down, started teaching a class and really liked it. Your professors, especially if it’s someone you’ve had more than one class with, [will] know what your skill sets are, and [connect you with] folks that they know, if they think your skill sets will fit them.”
After a few years at Temple, Gallagher left the job for an administrative position at another school. He entrusted Klotz with the class he taught at Temple when he stepped down.
Klotz recalled the exchange between himself and Gallagher at the time as a transformational moment for his career at Temple.
“He called and said, ‘Look, I have to give up my class at Temple. You should start teaching that,’” Klotz said. “And that’s when I started [in] 1996. I was asked to join the faculty full-time in 1999. I said yes, and here I am.”
Klotz said he believes, in the media world, interpersonal relationships are the true building blocks of a career. In order to be self-made, he believes students still need to have connections with others in order to make a name for themselves.
“The [media] business has always been entrepreneurial,” Klotz said. “You either start your own business, do your own thing or create a position with somebody.”
Klotz said he was inspired by Gallagher’s career in the music industry. It introduced him to the idea that there are more professions in the music industry than just being a performer, he said.
“He was a recording engineer,” Klotz said. “That was his job. I said, ‘Wow! That’s a job? I didn’t know that was a job.’ I didn’t think anything else would be satisfying and making recordings was. I loved doing it.”
Klotz started his own music production company with a former coworker. Klotz said he had long since wanted to be a music producer, but his strengths were in technical aspects of the industry.
His business partner lacked the technical skills needed for the endeavor, but was interested in creative aspects. The two decided to put their skills together spontaneously over a coffee date.
The professional relationship between Gallagher and Klotz recently came full circle when Klotz rehired his colleague at Temple.
“He started teaching here again last year,” Klotz said. “He is simultaneously our newest and oldest adjunct faculty member.”
The relationship between Gallagher and himself is something Klotz doesn’t believe is unusual.
Students should work to create those connections while in school, he said.
“If you hit it off with your professors, that’s a great place to start,” Klotz said. “Most of your professors in a field like this have professional connections. [My career] probably would have never worked if it wasn’t for [Gallagher].”
Fiona Galzarano can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.