How to Learn from an Expert (and Your Professors) in Your Field of Study

College professors teach and research a wide variety of topics; humanities, science, business,  computer science, engineering, law, etc.  These professors are hired at colleges because they are extremely knowledgeable and generally experts in their field. They have a vast array of experience and firsthand knowledge gained through study or their professional careers.  They can connect students with influential authorities in the community who can provide career perspectives.  They can recommend students for jobs, projects, and internship opportunities. So, the smartest plan as a student to learn and excel is by getting to know your academic scholars. At Coastline College we have some of the best, check them out here.   


Invest in You

Investing in a college education is still the smartest investment you can make and the faculty and staff at Coastline are committed to your success, by providing an up-close and personal experience for our students. We spoke with some of these professors and faculty members and asked them for their advice about what is the best way for students to learn from experts.   

Read our blog on: Why College Grads Earn A Million More Than Those Who Don’t Go

Planning Your Career

Career Counselor, Paolo Varquez runs the Career Center at the Fountain Valley Campus which provides career services including career development tools, knowledge, and skills needed to improve career marketability and competitiveness in the 21st-century workplace. Paolo also teaches career and life planning and as he says we are living in a digital world, so he advises:

  1.  Students should create an online profile that shows academic and professional work experience.  
  2. Build relationships with your professors, reach out to those who can be mentors, and some may be able to help you gather work experience in your field of study. They may be able to help you find internships. They can recommend conferences to attend and as a student, the benefits are the costs to participate are usually highly discounted.   
  3. Join organizations and associations within your field of study and actively network.   
  4. Read biographies on authorities in your field of study to learn how they became successful in their careers and help find a strategy for your career pathway.  

Find your career path with Coastline’s Career Coach!

Paralegal Path

As an example of how this has worked for students within our Paralegal Department, Department Chair and professor, Stephen Barnes, (a lawyer as well), says one of the best ways for a Paralegal student to learn about their field is to join the local Orange County Paralegal Association. The OCPA holds monthly student sections meetings with presentations of various experts from the legal community.  This provides students not only the opportunity to learn from experts in the field who have been where the students are sitting but is also an opportunity to network with other students and paralegals working in law firms or corporations who may be hiring in the future.  

Another beneficial way Professor Barnes recommends learning from experts in the field is to volunteer at the Veteran’s Legal Institute, Legal Aid Society, local courthouse or other community organizations. Students will be given hands-on experience that is invaluable to their future career.  These pro-bono activities are also great for networking. You never know when one of the attorneys working as a volunteer will be hiring or know of someone who is hiring.   

“Sometimes finding a job happens by being in the right place at the right time,” says Barnes. 

Professor Stephen Barnes

If you expand your network through joining the local paralegal association and/or volunteering for pro bono community organizations, you are more likely to be in the right place when the opportunity arises.   

Check out Career Pathways in Paralegal Studies Now!

Account Me In

Professor Kevin Erdkamp is the chair of the Accounting Department and is a CPA as well. He says college students that study accounting can join both national and state-based professional accounting organizations of professionals for free. The national organization is the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA).  The California state-based one is California Society of CPAs (CalCPA). Both organizations have local events that are free or low cost for students to attend.  Some paid events may have scholarships so students can attend for free.

Check out Career Pathways in Accounting Now!


While these are great organizations, Professor Kevin Erdkamp says the quickest way to success is to volunteer and or do an internship with firms and organizations that offer them.  Coastline has an income tax preparation site called Volunteer Income Tax Assistance that is a partnership with the Internal Revenue Service and United Way, where students can volunteer to gain important job skills. Volunteers can start as greeters and work their way up to literally preparing real tax returns for our local taxpayers by taking classes at Coastline. Internships are more competitive for students to get than a volunteer position, but they can be a great way for students and potential employers to learn about each other before a student graduates.

These are some examples getting to know your professors can help guide you in your pathway as a student to your prospective rewarding future in your chosen endeavor.   These professors are vital resources who can have a significant impact on that potential successful life. Reach out, connect, and network with your academic scholars, you never know where it can lead.     

Find your career path with Coastline’s Career Coach!

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