After attending ECA this weekend and having one of the best experiences of my life, I loaded myself into a car with fellow intern Anne Continetti, Communication professor Dr. Wanzer and Dr. Rosanne Hartman, Graduate Director of Canisius’ Communication & Leadership Program. The four of us prepared ourselves for what was to be an eight hour drive from Providence to Buffalo. Not surprisingly, this group of Communication scholars found no difficulty in making the eight hours fly by, discussing Anne’s Commencement speech, and dedicating at least an hour of the time to an informational interview and discussion about life as a Communication professor.
Because I already have a relationship with Dr. Wanzer and because this was my first time ever meeting Dr. Hartman, we decided to have a kind of pow-wow interview that included both women, a great decision that offered me different perspectives on the same questions. For example, I began the interview by asking if each of the professors knew that this was the career they wanted to end up in and how they really began down the path. Dr. Wanzer’s answer was pretty straightforward, she started at the University of Delaware as a Psychology major and the desire to be a counselor, realized it wasn’t what she wanted, switched to Communication, transferred and continued right on down the path at Syracuse University and West Virginia University.
Dr. Hartman, on the other hand, started pursuing her degree while working as a technician at Children’s Hospital. She hadn’t considered getting her Master’s Degree until she received a mailer asking her if she had. After receiving a teaching assistantship, she decided to go on get her PhD, after which she was hired at SUNY Geneseo.
Much of what came about in the interview, I expected. For example, Dr. Hartman shared how great it is to work in a profession that allows one to have a lot of autonomy and how a professor has to keep constantly learning and updating herself on new research in the field. But, something that surprised me was our discussion of family life. For some reason, I always had what I now realize is the misconception that a professor would have no problem managing a family life due to the aforementioned autonomy and flexible office hours. What hadn’t occurred to me, however, was the fact that when professors go home at night, they still have a ton of work to do. Both Dr. Wanzer and Dr. Hartman shared that bringing the office home with them often makes it difficult for them to spend time with their families when they are home. But, they both agreed that it is like any other job. Enjoying one’s family is difficult, but possible when you work out a schedule and a balance.
After an hour of open discussion and questioning, I asked if there was anything either of the professors felt that it was important for me to know, and they both agreed that I am on the right path just by attending conferences like ECA. By participating in events like ECA, pursuing a CEEP position for next year, and having the opportunity to proctor Interpersonal Communication Team Learning, I am putting myself on the path to really start to experience what life would be like as a Communication Studies professor.