Disclaimer: I asked this question on academia since it is very much so a student/professor relationship despite both him and me being significantly more industry oriented.

About Me: I recently graduated from a degree (4-5 months ago) and am working in industry. I'm 20 years old.

Dilemma: I recently found out from a friend of mine that my lecturer at EIT and my supervisor/mentor throughout my degree was planning to develop a new paper. I sent him an email telling him how the paper sounds like it would be very useful because as a graduate I found X, Y, Z to be very critical in industry. I also mentioned my new job in the email and some other stuff about the paper.

He replied saying

Good to hear from you. Great that Company X has offered you a job that appreciates your skills; at least, that's what I understand.


I hope you like your current job, and that you keep challenging yourself. We should stay in touch. Cheers,

So my problem is, what does "staying in touch" mean? How do I properly stay in touch with him?

Other Questions:

The first answer to this question had the best answer I could find, however It did not help me.

The easiest way is to keep working on projects with them. If that ship has sailed, then the next best way is to be friends with them on social media, which is to say, be friends with them in real life. Barring that, you have to work to communicate with them on a regular basis about topics relevant to your shared interests: go to conferences and strike up conversations with them, share interesting papers with them via email (i.e., "Did you see this new paper from prof X? What'd you think?"), propose joint projects and write joint grant proposals, etc. It's not hard, but it does take active work

  1. I'm 20 and he is around 40+ and leads a very busy life (kids, own business on the side and etc), so I'm not sure the whole "friend" thing would work overly that well.
  2. I'm in industry, he is in academia so projects/proposals are not really viable. (however he is more teaching/interfaceWithIndustry sort of thing as I do not believe he does any research any more). Also, "side-projects" are a viable option as we are software developers, however I have my plateful with them already and he has his own company as a side project, so there is no time for them really.

Another Related Question: How does one maintain academic contacts?

2 Answers 2


As far as my experience goes, this 'we should stay in touch' with no concrete suggestion as to how you should stay in touch, means he does not expect you to actually stay in touch on an ongoing fashion.

The way I interpret the meaning of this phrase as it appears in the email you quoted, it means roughly the following: "I am a busy man, and I have no particular thing in mind that we should cooperate about at the moment. But I like you, I am thankful for your comments, and I am impressed with what you achieved so far and by your potential. So if at any point in the future you see a concrete way in which our relationship can be put to use please contact me, and I will do the same on my side."

So I would just answer back saying something like "I'm glad were helpful. I'd be happy to chat more if you ever want [more comments about the current paper or anything related to the it or the job that you are doing now]."


First off, let me say the sentence "We should stay in touch" probably has no specific expectations. Based on your age, I guess this was an undergraduate advisor/professor. Typically a PhD advisor has a rather close relationship with their students. In your case, I don't know how close of a relationship you had, but if it was reasonably close then here are some situations where the professor might appreciate hearing from you:

  1. [academic] If you do related research and want to let him know about it. Similarly if you're going to a conference he is likely to attend, or you give a talk about your work with him, you might let him know. (In the case of a really large conference where you might not run into each other, an email in advance may be useful so you can try to arrange to meet up.) You can also let him know if you want to be updated wiht further progress on this research. Or if you decide you want to go to grad school or learn about something he's an expert in, you could ask him for advice.
  2. [semi-academic] If there are signifcant ways in what you worked on with him/he taught you helped you in your work, you could tell him and thank him again for his help. We usually appreciate hearing things are useful.
  3. [professional] If you change your job, he might like to know where you've gone off to. This is one way faculty maintain contacts in industry, through former students. He may want to contact you at some point to talk to/about other students he knows who are looking for similar jobs, or tell other people where his students have gone. To go along with this, if you change your email you should let him know.
  4. [professional] Conversely, if you're in a position where your company is looking for talented students with preparation similar to you, you could contact him to encourage students to apply.
  5. If you go back to visit your school, let him know in advance so you can try to drop in and say hi or have lunch with him to catch up and what not.
  6. Depending on how close you were, you might update him on major life changes (marriage, kids).
  7. If you both had some common nonacademic interest (again depending on your relationship), there are some options. E.g., if you're both into mountain climbing and you talked about the Himalayas, and then you finally go, you could let him know and send him a picture.
  8. Use an SNS. Though try to avoid bombarding him with messages with inviations from linkedln.

That said, you don't want to force situations in which to contact him just to stay in contact with him. It might be natural for you to contact him a couple times in a year, or maybe not at all for several years. He may also contact you periodically (along the lines of 3/4 or with updates about your previous research project).

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