RealJobs: Brian Zager

I am currently a second year doctoral student at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale, IL. It was quite a change moving to the Midwest from just north of Boston, where I grew up and attended school, but so far the experience has been worth it. My area of focus is in philosophy of communication within the Department of Speech Communication at the university. Responsibilities include taking courses—prior to writing exams and a dissertation—as well as teaching an introductory course and acting as a graduate student advisor to an undergrad group of public relations students. Although each position I fulfill requires certain aspects of my personality to be fore grounded, the opportunity to be involved in these different ways does help you become more invested in both your and the other students’ experiences.

If it was my high school experience which led me to the conclusion that I wanted to be a teacher, then my experience at BC is what solidified my continuing path in higher education. The sense of community amongst friends, faculty, and staff at BC reaffirmed that the best attributes of the university experience were born in the classroom, late night conversations, as well as campus activities. I am actively trying to bring my own memories of what “worked” for me in college to the forefront of both my teaching as well as interactions with colleagues and upper level faculty and staff here at SIU. So far, these attempts have been pretty successful, appreciated by both my teachers and students.

Something new I have learned since coming out to Illinois about two years ago is that there are two important aspects to the graduate school experience. Clearly, the academic challenge is the primary job that I contend with everyday of the week. The other aspect is the always changing world of interpersonal relationships (professional as well as extracurricular) that pervade the graduate school experience. Like I was always told while at BC, networking is very important at any level and any vocational interest. Graduate school allows one to have both friends/colleagues that will simultaneously be available to lend support, critique your work, go out to a happy hour, and debate strongly for or against issues in which you are invested. This creates a challenging, but ultimately rewarding environment for those who are willing to keep pushing the envelope in terms of how they view their thinking.

More to come…


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