"What do you want to do next?" I have asked bankers who have been downsized or have retired.
"I think I'll teach," often is their reply.
As a person who has made his career teaching bankers and those who want to be bankers, I sometimes feel like a permanent resident of the dump where people go when their careers fail or end. The bankers' response to my query shows how poor the image of teachers is: Those who worked hard to develop careers in banking feel they can just pick up in midstream as professionals in my field.
Sure, our classrooms can use the talents and experiences many of these bankers would like to share.
I am among the loudest in asserting that business schools have developed a contempt for teaching about the "real world" and that they reward with jobs and tenure only those whose efforts are all on paper in quantitative formats.
But as for having former practitioners become full-time teachers, that is another matter.
When I have guests in my classes, I am like a talk show host, with many questions in reserve when they run out of things to talk about, which they quickly do.
It sounds heady to tell a group of eager business students, "Let me share my experiences with you." But to put these experiences in a structure that must fill three hours or so a week for a semester and to do more than tell how you were a hero and saved your bank is a lot tougher than it appears at first.
After many a class with a guest, the visitor has exclaimed, "That was fun. How did the time go so fast?" While I am thinking, "Thank God! How did we make it all the way through the hour without putting the students to sleep?"
So let's be honest. Becoming a teacher involves far more than telling war stories. Try putting down on paper what you feel you would like to teach banking students, and organize it in outline form. See how much more difficult that is than merely standing there with memory and ego at full tilt.
Well, if you still want to teach, it should not bother you that for the first few years you are likely to be an adjunct-earning as little as $750 for a 12-week course, meeting your obligation every week, grading papers, handling student complaints, and preparing lectures that are logical and, hopefully, pertinent. How do you do get started?
My suggestion: Go to all the community colleges, undergraduate schools, and AIB chapters within commuting distance. Get the catalogues and circle every course you feel you could handle adequately because you can read the textbook a couple of weeks (or months) before the students do. You will be amazed how many there are!
Then send a letter to all these schools indicating your background and the names of all the courses you could teach. Next, be prepared for a last- minute call from one of the schools. It probably had unexpectedly large enrollment for a course or a teacher who dropped out; they need a warm body.
Sound simple? Often it is-especially if you have an advanced degree. That looks good in the school's faculty roster, which is vital for accreditation purposes.
Once your toe is in the door, it becomes even easier. When the school needs a full-time teacher, at a far higher salary than the adjuncts earn, it is far more likely to hire a person whose face is familiar than someone known only by resume. To me, this is the best way to start.
But I hope this column shocks most downsized and-or retired people who ponder where they should turn next into understanding that a teaching job may be as hard to realize as the other goal that so many of us have, losing 20 pounds this year.