"Gosh, are you lucky. I really would love to teach."
I hear this from bankers regularly.
Some of these bankers say they'd like to teach after they retire. Some think they might want to teach now, as adjuncts. And some are thinking about what they would do for a living if their banks should "downsize" and they found themselves unemployed.
While a position as an adjunct is the easiest to attain, all three goals are within reach of the banker who plans ahead and has pluck and luck.
What should a banker do who wants to teach?
My suggestion would be to stop by any local college and pick up a copy of its catalogue for undergraduates. If the college has a business school, get its catalogue, too.
What should be your goal? To find which courses you are not only qualified to teach but, more important, would like to teach.
Most bankers could, in a pinch, teach courses in public finance, corporate finance, money and banking, accounting, credit and collections, personal finance, marketing, and a host of other fields.
Hit the Books
The next step is to stop at the college bookstore and look at the texts assigned for the courses you think you may suited to teach.
You will discover pretty quickly which areas are within your ken. Some classes, you'll find may have familiar-sounding titles but cover material completely alien to your background and experience.
Next, make a list of all the institutions within range of your home or office. Most bankers who have checked a directory tell me they were amazed to discover how many colleges there are in their areas.
Schools Beyond Reach
Now for the reality check. If you don't have a doctorate, forget the top-name schools and those that must meet accreditation standards.
You will still, however, find a great many schools left. For example, with all the business schools in the New York area, only four are accredited. This means they are the only ones that need to keep a set percentage of teachers with doctorates on their faculties.
Next, prepare a resume spelling out your credentials in the subjects you'd like to teach. The state in a letter what kind of position you're seeking, whether as a full-time or adjunct instructor.
Send the resume and cover letter to the schools in your area.
You will be amazed at how often, at the last minute, some adjunct or even a full-time instructor becomes unavailable for a course and someone is needed to fill in.
Many of today's full-time professors (including myself) got their first teaching jobs that way.
And the most important point is that once you get your first job, it becomes easier and easier to get the next one.
As I said before, it's a matter of luck and pluck.
But before you go out and get those catalogues, let me point out some hard and cold facts.
Prepare to Put In Time
First, a full semester can chew up an awful lot of course material, far more than you may have gleaned from your own experience. Once you get the job, you'll be working a lot of hours to get ready for the classroom hour.
Second, if you want to be an adjunct, you have to keep the one night a week open.
(Incidentally, it is far easier to get that first adjunct job if you can arrange your schedule so you can teach in the day instead of the evening.)
And if you are looking for full-time teaching, be prepared for committee work, advising, and all the other details that go to fill a teacher's day. Teachers have as many meetings as bankers.
You Won't Get Rich
Third, be realistic about salaries.
Adjuncts are treated like slave labor, with many schools using them to cover courses on the cheap. Even full-timers frequently find they must supplement their teaching salaries.
But the satisfactions are there. You are your own boss. You set the hours when you prepare. And you devote your time to learning and disseminating knowledge instead of the generally more prosaic duties of banking.
Whether adjunct or full-timer, you will leave every class either elated or depressed -- there is no middle ground.
But on those occasions when everything goes well -- when you see the students' eyes light up -- you'll feel grateful for being part of this wonderful profession.
Mr. Nadler is a contributing editor of the American Banker and professor of finance at the Rutgers University Graduate School of Management.