I have two primary roles in my current position: professional service to the program and student me.
As a tele-commuter, I spend my entire work day at the computer. I work in a professional, co-working space for at least 6 hours each weekday. In addition, I work from home, primarily for short bursts in the early morning, late evening, and a little each Saturday and Sunday. My day is divided between responding to emails, working in the on-line classroom with students, completing projects focused on improving the student and faculty experience, and an occasional committee meeting.
Since I teach in a technical subject area (Computing), I found that several years of professional experience in the industry was invaluable when it comes to facilitating student learning in the classroom. In addition, I obtained professional certifications in my area of expertise to insure I am providing the most up-to-date information to the students. Written and oral communication as well as strong interpersonal skills improved my ability to succeed and work effectively with others.
Here's the first step for college students
As an undergraduate, follow your passion. Get a degree in something you enjoy. As a graduate student, continue to follow your passion, but be sure to look at the realities of life after graduate school. Will the degree you are pursuing support the life style you want to live; professionally, personally, and financially.
"It's not worth it to pursue a PhD. There is no financial payback for what it will cost me. Who do you think you are pursuing a PhD? You are not that smart!"