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MY EXPERIENCE AS A PART-TIME UNIVERSITY LECTURER (PROFESOR ASOCIADO)

Friday, March 20, 2020

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Company: GMV

I’m lucky enough to work in a technology environment that thrills me, spurs me on to greater effort and constant recycling, obliging me continually to check out scientific articles on the “state of the art” of various fields I work in. Tied in with this recycling aspect is an ongoing link with the academic world I now work in as a profesor asociado (a part-time university lecturer holding down another job at the same time) whilst also working at GMV. I lecture in IT, telecommunications engineering and the double IT/mathematics degree at the Universidad Autónoma de Madrid.

I hold this system of profesor asociado in high esteem. One of its objectives is to create and keep up a link between university courses and people with industrial skills, giving a practical, hands-on slant to the theoretical teachings. This is precisely one of the ideas I try to get across to my classes, with examples from the working world, whether my own experiences or known examples from other companies, giving them a much clearer grasp of the usefulness and practical applications of subjects that might otherwise prove tedious or even senseless to study.

I’ve been lecturing for 5 years now. Not in the sense of master-classes, following my own bent, but as part of the official university syllabus, albeit with a non-academic outlook. It was all a bit weird at first, the same and yet different from when I myself was a student; being on the other side of the street changes how everything looks. I look back at my own time as a student to try to offer them what I would have wanted in my time. Above all, I try to motivate them and pique their curiosity. I also try to arouse doubts in the students, so that it is they themselves who begin to question things, because I think this is the best way to learn. I also try to explain the whys and wherefores of many things; after all, it is not a question of learning something just for the sake of it but to understand why it would be useful to learn it and where it comes from. I encourage questions, even simple questions, because this helps to create an environment of inquisitiveness in which more interesting questions might be broached. Partly to offset this approachable lecturing style, I’m a painstaking marker to make sure real effort only is rewarded and hailed with good marks.

I enjoy lecturing; it enriches me personally and helps to hone many useful business skills. In particular, we often lose sight of how to explain something that seems simple and every-day to us, when the person we are trying to explain it to is perhaps hearing it for the very first time. My lecturing experience has taught me how to adapt my language to my audience, looking for metaphors and stressing the truly important aspects.

At GMV I’ve met other colleagues who are also part-time university lecturers; I like to swap notes with them, especially about the generational change and the underpinning themes. As well as lecturing strictly speaking, company life involves giving many papers and talks at congresses; other colleagues run innovation blogs and give one-off technical chats at universities. There are even some colleagues that, without actually being university lecturers, are without doubt more teachers than I am. This is why our working environment lends itself to this industrial-academic interaction. I believe that all GMV’s new recruits are aware of this and buy into it willingly. We understand that we work in an attractive but tricky field, and any aid always stands us in good stead. Among these new recruits, especially in recent years, I’ve met in corridors and at water coolers some of my past students. This is for me a double joy, helping to tie together my two professions.

I close this post with a famous saying that serves as my whatsapp status quote. It perfectly knits together this dual academic and industrial fabric: “Tell me and I forget; teach me and I may remember; involve me and I learn”.

Author: David González Arjona


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