Careers in Higher Education: Outside of the Classroom

Welcome to Careers in Higher Education: Outside of the Classroom, sponsored by Hiatt Career Center and the Brandeis Alumni Association. During this hour long webinar, audience members will learn about different student service oriented roles on a college campus, And steps you can take to transition into this exciting career field. And we know firsthand that it’s exciting because we’re in it! This program will be most helpful for the recent alumni interested in entering the field, Attending an industry-related graduate program, or for those who are looking to make a career transition into a higher ed student services role. With that said I’m Meridith Apfelbaum, Hiatt’s Assistant Director for Alumni Career Services. And it is my pleasure to welcome three very talented and dedicated higher education professionals to our panel this evening. Before I introduce these three wonderful Brandeis alumni, I’d like to first inform our audience about the format of tonight’s program. I will begin by interviewing our three guests for the first half of our program, and then we will open the floor to audience questions. To participate, simply type your Questions in the questions text box located toward the bottom of your webinar control panel, Which should be located at the upper Right-hand side of your computer screen. And, if you have access to a microphone or calling into this presentation on your phone, You can hit the raise hand icon next to your name, And we’ll give you the ability to ask your questions or share your story verbally for the end of our program. Time allowing, we will address as many of your questions as possible during the second half of our program. That said, let me now introduce tonight’s panel! Sherri Avery, Class of 1995: Director of Financial Aid and Student Employment at Brandeis University. Welcome, Sherri! [Sherri] Hi. [Meridith] We also have with us Lee Goldstein, Class of 2001: Assistant Director of Career Services and Internship Coordinator at Clark University in Worcester. Welcome, Lee! [Lee] Thank you! Thanks for having me! [Meridith] And Sharon Rosenberg, Class of 2000, Director for Alumni and University Relations at Brandeis University. Welcome, Sharon! [Sharon] Thank you! [Meridith] Thank you to all three of you for taking the time out of your tremendously busy schedules to be here with us tonight. My first question is for Lee: Lee, can you please tell us why you cited to pursue positions in higher education outside the classroom? [Lee] Absolutely. To be honest, I have to tell you in retrospect it actually started when I was at Brandeis. I was very involved: I did admissions, gave tours, orientation, senior week, and Alumni Development, and the reunions. And there is a saying amongst higher ed administrators is that we’re in higher ed because we absolutely never wanted to leave it. So that’s why we still do what it is that we do, and it’s funny to see you know people and their career trajectories from once they graduate college. My youngest brother actually went to Brandeis as well. He’s Class of 2005 and… talk about a different path; He was an economics major, had several internships in the Boston are,a and now works on Wall Street. So, I have to tell you that you know I knew right when I started in higher ed that that wasn’t the path for me and that my path which went from Alumni Development to human resources, now the career services was absolutely the way it was meant to be. [Meridith] Fantastic! Thank you, Lee. My next question is for Sherri. Sherri, your career to date exemplifies a very traditional path of moving up the ladder in one higher education administrative department: Financial Aid. You started out as an Assistant Director of Financial Aid, and then worked your way up to Associate Director and then Director. Can you please tell us about your career path, and how you navigated your way up the ladder in the Financial Aid office? [Sherri] Sure. Actually, I really started out as a work-study student just like Lee was saying, which is a pretty traditional way to start a career in Financial Aid. So, my first week at Brandeis I got a job in the Financial Aid office and worked there for four years, Many many hours trying to put myself through college. And, They kind of ran out of things for me to learn how to do, so actually in my senior year, I did an internship and learned how to evaluate financial aid files and learned a whole lot of things about financial aid in my final year. But I really thought I was going to be a Psychologist. So, I actually applied to a program that BC and got into a counseling psychology program, but then decided to Think about it for a year; must have been my financial aid background because I was thinking about all the loans. I took a year off. And I ended up being kind of in the right place at the right time, because one of the Assistant Directors in the Financial Aid office Decided to leave. So I decided to do that thinking it would just be for You know, a year so, and then I would go on and do my psychology career, And then realized pretty quickly, into being Assistant Director that it was very close to what I wanted to do because it combined not only the the numbers in the math aspect that I really liked, but also the Counseling aspect that I had really hoped to go into as my career. So, I decided to stay and then so my first professional position there was as an Assistant Director. And, Pretty much every five years, I guess it is, I moved up to another position in the office, And I did that by trying to learn as much as I could about the field and trying to become an expert in financial aid. I was very involved in my Professional Association in Massachusetts. I went to as many trainings as I could go to. Got a Master’s Degree; so just kept trying to expand my knowledge of the field, And by doing that was able to just keep moving up. [Meridith] Thank you, Sherri. By the way, what is that professional association that you mentioned? [Sherri] It’s the Massachusetts Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators. And there are over 900 members. We have a lot of colleges in Massachusetts, and I started out Just doing some things like editing the newsletter and moved up to membership and actually served as president a couple years ago. [Meridith] Fantastic! So you must know a lot of people! That’s helpful! [Sherri] I do, And I probably know at least one person if not more in every financial aid office in Massachusetts. So it’s actually, which maybe we’ll get into this later, it’s a fantastic networking opportunity. And really if I ever did want to leave Brandeis, And maybe I never will, but if I do want to leave Brandeis, I certainly know people everywhere. And that that’s a really important – Important way to to move up and take other opportunities. [Meridith] Great. Thanks you. Join professional associations. So Sharon, this next question is for you. So you began your career in Higher Ed as the Alumni Admissions Council Coordinator here at Brandeis. You were in that role, I believe for five years? [Sharon] Yes. [Meridith] Is that right? [Sharon] Yes, five years. [Meridith] So, what did you do in that role and How did it help you to move into your next role in Alumni and University Relations? [Sharon] Well, I can echo one of what both Lee and Sherry’s that in terms of how I got into higher ed, and that it really started when I was a student. For three years: sophomore, junior, and senior year I was a student admissions volunteer; I was one of those chatters- so if you were in the audience waiting for an interview or waiting for a tour, I was someone coming up to you and saying, “do you have any questions?” And when I was a junior, I was an RA and then when I was a senior, I was one of the five student admissions volunteer coordinators. So unbeknownst to me I kind of already started on the higher ed track, and luckily for me Shortly after I graduated, a position opened up in the Admissions office Actually working with the person who directed our Alumni Admissions Council, Which is a group of alumni around the country and internationally as well who Helped the office of admissions by doing off campus interviews, representing advantage at College fairs, just doing general outreach To prospective and accepted students to encourage them to Either apply to Brandeis or if they’re accepted to come to Brandeis. And two years into that position the person who ran the AAC left Brandeis for another job and the timing was right, and so I moved into her role as The sole director of the a AAC, and I had a volunteer group of nearly 900 Alumni, And I managed their activities in terms of organizing off campus interview requests, matching students with Alumni, getting alumni to cover college fairs, so it was a lot of Organizations, volunteer management; at the same time I was also working- doing some of the traditional admissions work of conducting interviews, info sessions, visiting high schools, things like that. So a little bit of everything. And, That piece of working with the alumni and building those relationships, I found that as the years went on in admissions, I was focusing more and more on that piece of it. And I really really loved working with the alumni. And as luck would have it, Right when I was finishing grad school, because I went to grad school at night while I was working Full time here, a position in the Alumni Relations office opened up. And it was just the perfect transition at the perfect time. And luckily for me, I have some of these alumni I’ve now been working with for 11 years because I’ve been able to keep those relationships across offices here on campus. So if I hadn’t started in Admissions in that role, working with Alumni, I don’t know that I would be in alumni relations today. But the timing just all lined up, and it’s a really really good match for me. [Meridith] Fantastic. You mentioned with your position with the Alumni Admissions Council, you travel to different high schools. And you travel regionally? Or did you get on an airplane? [Sharon] Most of the recruiting I did was regional Here in the Boston area. I did do the Cape and Rhode Island, so a little bit of travel, and now and then I did, New Jersey, Which is where I grew up. I got to go to my former high school And recruit students there, which was a lot of fun. [Meridith] A full-circle moment. [Sharon] Exactly. [Meridith] We love that. Thank you, Sharon! So our next question is for Lee. Lee, you worked in human resources and then made the switch into career services. How does the work you did in HR differ from your work in Career Services? How is it similar? Are using any of the same skills? [Lee] Absolutely, I’m so glad you asked me about it. And in fact, I really attribute my role in HR to getting my current position in career services. There were a few ways that I had to go about doing that, first of all I actually had to convince my Interviewers that, you know, having never work in career services before, that I was qualified. And my role in human resources made me so qualified in the fact that I screened resumes, Interviewed applicants, and was then able to teach students how to do that. Because I was fortunate enough to teach some courses at Mount Ida as well such as first year seminar and sociology, and I was able to do that because of my role in HR, And just knowing who to go to for what. And that is so true in any job search, It’s, you know, who you know and the networking. And you can apply that and all your careers, much like Sherri and Sharon have Been telling me and you today. So that’s definitely part of it. So, my Application materials were key: I had to put in my cover letter why I wanted this position, How I could do the job. Because you have to keep in mind when you want anything mission in higher education, You have to be able to do the job and explain that to the hiring manager. So thankfully my position in human resources did translate into career services And it’s vaguely all working out now for the best. [Meridith] Fantastic. I want to ask you a follow-up question: so What is your role like specifically As the Assistant Director for Career Services and Internship Coordinator at Clark? What do you do? [Lee] It’s a dual role. My main responsibility is supervising What’s called the Clark Career Exploration Program. So I work with students from day one in a formal program to lead them through a development plan for their career exploration process. So starting with career exploration and choosing a major, Developing a resume, then moving into sophomore year looking at some internships, volunteer Experiences, specific community engagement, then you know more internships junior year, maybe study abroad, if that’s an option, and then senior year really refining interviewing skills and Looking at how to go about applying for jobs vs. grad school. So it’s a whole development plan that I supervise, which as you can tell, Involves a lot of counseling. A lot of individual one-on-one Counseling. And you can meet with a student to go over a quick resume critique And it turns into a whole conversation about internships and job searching and networking. So my role was very Counseling-based and on top of all that I do coordinate the internships at Clark. And at several institutions of higher ed, it is important to know that today There are actually a lot of academic internship programs where students can do Internships and receive credit for it. So usually a process involved – you define a faculty member to sponsor you for that – So I coordinate that process as well. [Meridith] so it really is a lot of relationship building and counseling; It sounds like there’s some detail oriented work involved in that as well – that you have to be somewhat of an administrator too. [Lee] Absolutely. [Meredith] Manage the paperwork for the internship program as well. [Lee] That’s true. Very paperwork based because a lot of signatures are necessary, so yeah, We’re hoping everything will be more electronic, but, you know, I have to tell you too that my role in HR Does help with that too. I’m able to really advise students from doing mock interviews on what they can answer, What questions are illegal, appropriate dress and attire, you know from Sort of First-hand experience and position. But I have to tell you too that it was definitely my desire to work students that prompted me to Apply for my job in career services. Because in human resources, you have to keep in mind that you are in a, you know, higher ed environment. But you really don’t have that student interaction aside from some work study students that we had there. But now I did transfer to that student services role, and that’s what I find personally the most rewarding. [Meridith] Great, fantastic! Thank you. And I’m actually going to ask our audience at this point before We move forward with our questions if any of you have any questions for our three wonderful Alumni panelists at this point. If you have questions, please feel free to either type them in or you can raise your hand, and I’m happy to call on you and certainly You can ask your question over the phone or through your microphone, Whatever you have access to. Anybody? Have any questions at this point in our program? Anything at all? Alright. Nobody is raising their hand, so we’re going to move Forward. And let me see if someone typed in any questions. Alright, so our next question is for Sherri. So Sherri, tell us, what’s a typical day like for you as the Director of Financial Aid and Student Employment? [Sherri] It’s actually a difficult question. [Meridith] Is it? Alright! [Sherri] There’s nothing very typical about a day in financial aid. Aid it’s a field of very constant change in constant cycles. So, depending on the time of year – even the the week in the month – it can be different, but generally, You know when I come in the morning I usually check in with my staff and kind of make sure that things are on track. So my job is a combination of, so I manage four Staff members, three who do financial aid and one that does student employment. And I have to make sure that you know they’re all on track with their projects and things that they’re supposed to be keeping up With. I do a lot of email. I get a lot of requests from all over campus for data. So I do things with Statistics for Admissions or statistics even for Development or for anybody on Campus doing a survey. We do a lot of data management. And I do meet with students. I don’t have a caseload per se, but I certainly do meet with students sometimes. Sometimes they’re happy; sometimes they’re not. It can be fun or not so fun. [Meridith] Challenging dealing with conflict? [Sherri] Yeah, definitely, but you know most of it is very positive. And I really enjoy because I don’t have a caseload anymore its kind of – It’s nice to actually have that contact with students and parents from time to time so even today I had a couple of student appointments, So that was nice to do. I do… I have meetings with people from off-campus, so lenders come in to talk about loan products and things like that. And I also oversee the financial aid processing in all of our grad schools. So I might be on the phone with them trying to help them solve a problem or I also do a lot of work with compliance ,making sure that we’re following regulations and So I do a lot of data checking and auditing and all sorts of things like that. So it can be… it can be a busy day. So it’s hard sometimes. There’s a lot of overtime at certain times of the year. So in the spring is our busiest time when we’re actually Trying to put together financial aid packages for people who are applying for the next fall. So I might also do file review. And then I’m also the one putting together all the procedures and trying to train my staff on how to… how to actually review the files and put together….. [Meridith] Sherri? [Sherri] Yes? [Meridith] We actually might be losing you a little bit. Are you able to turn up the volume on your microphone? [Sherri] Yes, let me try. [Meridith] Ah, the joys of live webinars! [Sherri] Is that better? [Meridith] Maybe a little bit, are you able to turn up a little bit more? Or did you actually – did you move back away from your Microphone? [Sherri] No, I’m right up against it. It’s up as high as it will go. [Meridith] Ok. [Sherri] Is that better? [Meridith] It’s a little bit better. [Sherri] Ok. So I gotta – do you need me to repeat anything? [Meridith] Yeah, maybe the last part of your answer, if you remember what you said? In terms of some of the tasks? So I think the last part I was saying was that I do have to work With compliance, trying to make sure that we’re following regulations. There’s a lot of federal regulations involved with processing financial aid, and I also oversee the graduate schools and their processing of financial aid. So I may be on the phone helping to solve problems that they have or looking up regs for them. And I also do a lot of… I’m kind of the sort of the IT person in the office. So I maintain our financial aid software, doing upgrades, and helping people figure out how to write reports, and things like that. So there’s a lot of different things that I might do, and In the spring is our busiest time we’re trying to put together financial aid packages for people applying for the fall semester, so I might If my assistant director is getting behind, I’ll help help them review files. I help, you know, award the financial aid to people, and I also do a lot of the communications to the families about documents they’re missing or things that they need to know about so we’re constantly sending out emails and letters to parents and students trying to Keep- make sure that they meet deadlines and things like that. So there’s a lot of things that go on a lot of the time. [Meridith] Yeah, I was going to say there are of a lot of moving parts there, but it sounds like you really have to have strong administrative skills, attention to Detail, the ability to manage projects, manage people, and It also sounds like, you know, in financial aid you are going to be dealing sometimes with some people who are quite upset, so [Sherri] Definitely. So not all the time you also get the thank yous too, which is nice. [Meridith] That’s true. So you’re both sides- both sides of the spectrum, Actually, it looks like We might have a question from the audience. Let’s see… Ah, ok, as someone… let’s see Alright, so we have a pretty good question here. It’s a nice question. Let me ask this. As someone who has worked for 10 years in educational publishing, With some previous experience as a clinical social worker, I am interested in transitioning to an administrative position in higher education. What would the panelists suggest as some steps toward transitioning to higher education administration? What types of positions with the panelists suggest a person pursue as an entry to this field? Anybody want to take that? [Sharon] Can I hear just a little bit more about your background? [Lee] I can do it. [Meridith] Sure. It sounds like that they’ve had 10 yrs experience in educational publishing, some previous experience as a clinical social worker, and They’re interested in transitioning to an administrative position in higher ed. So a person wants to know What steps they can take to transition into higher ed and potentially within that, what types of positions He or she should pursue. [Sharon] I’ll start. [Lee] Ok, I’ll go in after you. This is Sharon! I think the biggest piece to know about transitioning into higher education Is that many skills that you already have are easily transferable. And then I think the most important thing is when you’re looking at positions, Titles in in Higher Ed can be a little bit deceiving. So I say it is very important to look beyond the title and look at the actual job description like as Lee was saying, what are The tasks that this job is going to ask me to do, and am I qualified to do this? And my favorite example is when I worked in admissions, we were hiring someone to be our Marketing person and this person was also going to carry an admissions Portfolio. I remember our Dean of Admissions at the time saying we’re looking for someone who has a very strong marketing background. I can teach admissions to someone. I can teach someone how to recruit students, what to say at high school visits, and how to do an info session. But I can’t teach someone marketing. Someone needs come in with those skills. So, I think if you look at the skills that you already have and say these skills can apply to this position. So I think it’s a lot of just kind of looking and seeing what a position is and what it is Asking for, and seeing what skills do I have that are transferable because I think you’ll find that a lot of skills that you’ve built Up over the years, especially if you’ve been working for many years, are transferable to higher ed, [Lee] I agree 100% with Sharon, definitely. Her answer was so good it’s difficult for me to think of things to add to it. But one thing I can think of is to definitely use your valuable experience in educational publishing. Education publishing, because I have no doubt with that background that you definitely have contacts in education and to definitely pursue those contacts. Look at them- look for them on LinkedIn. Look for them in networking groups or networking events and See who they know and what they know, because a lot of times with your background, it will be helpful to pursue the Who know instead of what you know, in terms of actual positions. I look at educational publishing – to me that translates to like a marketing or communications Type role, which usually falls under enrollment management, you could pursue that. As a social worker as well, Which it appears you have experience in, there’s always health centers at university environments, a lot of counseling-type positions. So to me, a lot of those skills would be transferable. So now would be up to you to really Show the, you know, hiring manager how you’re able to do that job, Why you want to do that job. I even recommend some little details as even adding an objective to your Resume so you already answered question for them: you know, why you want to do this and that You can do that role and then go from there. [Meridith] Sherri, did you have anything to add to that? [Sherri] Yes, definitely. I agree with what Lee and Sharon were saying about how there’s so many… basically whatever job You’re doing now outside of higher ed could definitely apply to something. There’s so many different facets of higher education. You know, as a social worker you would be fantastic at working in Residence Life, Student Life, there’s a lot of counseling that goes on there with students. In terms of things that are happening in Dormitories; trying to refer them on to on the psychological center or maybe telling anything they might want to take a semester off. I would love to have a social worker working in financial aid, I’ll tell you. We get some… I mean, you think about financial Aid just being numbers, but there’s really such a huge huge, you know, social component to it. There’s a lot of counseling that we do with some students who come in with really tough situations that go way beyond the numbers, Which is really what we’re there for. It is to try and help with those really difficult family situations, you know, we see cases of, You know, where there’s abuse- there’s all sorts of stuff going on. You have to know how to talk to students about that kind of thing. So, I mean, social work would apply to that as well. And educational publishing could go to anything. I mean in my office. I manage all the publications and every office has publications and that they put out. You know, Admissions would be a great place to apply educational publishing skills. So definitely there’s so many things that you could apply for in higher ed, And you should just highlight how those skills you have applied to whatever the job Is that you’re applying to… There’s just an infinite number of things that you could do with those skills. [Meridith] Great! Jenna, I am sorry… I see now that you raised your hand, I’ve just unmuted you – Did you have a follow-up comment or a question that you now like to ask live on the line? [Jenna] Can you hear me now? [Meridith] I can hear you now! I feel like we’re on a cell phone commercial! [Jenna] Okay. Let’s see, well… that’s certainly very Helpful. It sounds like Really any position where I could… Where I could explain how my skills transfer… Or what you are suggesting. Interesting, I hadn’t thought about financial aid because I had thought of that primarily as numbers But the counseling piece makes a lot of sense to me. So thank you, that’s very helpful. [Meridith] Great. Thanks for your question, Jenna. I see we have another question, hand raised. Brendan, go ahead! [Brendan] Yes, hi, Meredith. I’d actually like to ask a similar question. I actually worked in college admissions for five years; in law school admissions actually. And, Actually got out of the field while I was attending law school at least on a full-time basis. I’m wondering if any of the panelists can address some of the challenges, some of the resources, Some of the strategies that walk with restarting a career, perhaps mid-level, rather than jumping in back at the beginning. [Meridith] Sure, so talking about transitioning from… So it sounds like you were in admissions, then you were in law, and now you’re looking to get back into a higher ed position? [Brendan] That’s exactly what happened actually. [Meridith] So I have a suggestion. I mean, have you thought about since you worked in an admissions role, And you were an attorney, Would you think about potentially going back into an admissions role in a more senior level? I’m imagining… at the time; Did you say you were an admissions counselor? [Brendan] I was actually an assistant director at one point. [Meridith] Okay, so I would say the next step up from there would be an Associate Director position or Director position in an admissions office, and all the more Qualified you’d be at the fact if you looked at a law school. So, you know, if you’re willing to… I mean certainly we do have some very fine law schools in this area. All the more Easier of course if you’re willing to relocate. That’s one suggestion. Another suggestion is There’s also the role of Assistant Director of Pre-Law and Graduate School Advising or something similar to that: a Pre-Law advisor, if you will. At a lot of different colleges and universities where you could literally counsel undergraduates who are thinking about attending law school or know they want to go to law school. And you literally counsel them through the LSAT process, and going through the application process with LSDAS, Looking at their personal statements. So those are two suggestions that Come to mind readily for me. Does anybody else have any suggestions for him? Work in admissions work as an attorney… [Lee] You have great experience. This is Lee, by the way. And you would actually know this better than I would, but I’d really like for you to think back about your five years in admissions and the offices you collaborated with; Other people you worked with there, if you’d be comfortable Contacting them; think about, you know, the other offices and if you can do those roles, And reflect on your work that you did with them and go from there. So really do a lot of thinking about it. You can also use certain websites to look at, you know, the career level, much like Meridith said. You can search entry-level, Mid-level career; you know in experience. So there are ways to do that type of searching as well. And also those websites for those professional associations– I know there’s different admissions ones. I remember it from back in the day. It’s been years since I’ve done that one. You, again, You would know those ones better than I would. You know, so definitely go back to those and use those networking, and Then go from there. So really, you know, it’s up to you to decide what type of position, you know, out in higher ed But outside of admissions that you think you would be good at, and see if you can transfer those skills into those roles. [Meridith] Anyone else have anything to add? [Sharon] This is Sharon. I think that, as we were saying, just a lot of networking. Admissions tends to be a revolving door in the sense that you can have someone working at one school one year and the next year You’ll go to the same college fair, and they’re there representing a different school. Which is both a wonderful thing and could be a challenging thing, in That there is so much turnover. But I think in this case that would work to your benefit because there are pretty much always Openings. Now it can be very cyclical in admissions, in the sense that most openings will tend to be at the end of the cycle. You know, late spring, early summer, late summer, and then they’re kind of usually, unless, something changes, they’re kind of set for the year. So, in terms of timing of that, that’s the time to kind of look for that. I think another thing about admissions jobs is that a lot of times You’ll see a posting printed again, It might be posted as an Assistant Director job, but depending on what the specific job is and your experience they could be willing to hire you at a higher level as they’re talking with you and talking about how many years you’ve been in the field and what you’re… What you will bring to that position. It sometimes could be, well, you know what, I posted This is an Assistant Director, but we really want you & We’ll make this an Associate Director. So, I’d say don’t rule something out simply because it might look like it’s a lower position. I’d say find out a little bit more and see if there is a flexibility with it. [Brendan] Interesting. [Meridith] Thank you. Did you have Any follow-up question or comment to that? [Brendan] I don’t think so right now. Thank you. Thank you very much. [Meridith] All right Brendan. Thanks for your question. It looks like we have a few questions that were actually typed in, So I’ll go ahead and read that on behalf of our Wonderful audience members. Okay, this is from Barry, for any of the panelists. Do you see much success of Alumni admissions volunteers being able to break into the admissions field? [Sharon] I will take that one. [Meridith] Yes, Sharon, I think that’s a good one for you! [Sharon] This is Sharon – I think that it’s definitely something that provide relevant experience. I mean, it’s used in Interviewing students, and you’ve been representing, you know, your alma mater and at a college fair as a volunteer, then you certainly do have some experience For that, and I think odds are things that you’ve also done In your professional life already – that combined with with this would make you a stronger candidate. I mean, I think that it certainly doesn’t hurt to emphasize that, and you know it shows that you also do have some understanding into The admissions process and that you, you know, connect that… you’re good with connecting with students of that age. [Meridith] Great, thank you. I think – just looking at the time, I know we have some other questions, which we will Get to toward the end. I just want to get through a last of our questions, so we’re just going to move forward. And, our next question actually is… oh! Sharon! You’re up again! So, please tell us about a rewarding or exciting project that you’ve worked on recently. [Sharon] I mean, well, Part of… a big chunk of my job–what I do–is I work with alumni volunteers locally and around the country and internationally To plan Alumni events, and our alumni association puts on about 150 events each year. And, One of the areas that… so I’m the person behind a lot of those emails that you get about alumni events in your area, Depending on what area you live in, and one of the areas that I’m lucky to work with is right here in Boston. So I’m on-site at the majority of our events, and we had a wonderful breakfast event yesterday morning. We had a great event at a Brandeis soccer game a few weeks ago, and so I think for me, it’s that Seeing these events to come together, You know, some of them: you’re talking with volunteers for sometimes months, because we’re trying to plan… you right now working on the calendar for the spring semester and We have, You know, some new and exciting events, some of our kind of annual traditional events. And so it’s just neat to kind of see that all come together from the very beginning conversation from an alum’s saying, “I have an idea for an event, could we do this?” and then just kind of seeing it right there in front of you. So to me, I think that that’s the most rewarding part. [Meridith] Thank you. And so this next question actually is for all three of you. It’s a grad school question. So my question is, you each went to graduate school and pursued some kind of degree in higher education administration. Please tell us why you attended the grad school you attended, Why you Pursued the degree that you pursued, and and do you feel how do you feel the degree has helped you if if at all? So Lee, let’s start with you on that one. [Lee] Absolutely, this is a little very very brief story that I love telling about how I found I graduate degree program and decided on that. As you know, as you can tell from my bio, after I graduated Brandeis I worked for three years at Lasell College in Newton And I’m from the Boston area an myself. So, at my you know pretty much entry-level position at Lasell College, I knew it was time to move on, but I wasn’t sure what that next step was. So, I was at a Super Bowl party held by fellow Brandeisians and ran into my friend Harvey Miller, Class of 2001, and I will give him a shout out. He’s probably not listening, but, We were admissions coordinators together, The role that Sharon was talking about; he coordinated all the tour guides. So, I ran into him, You know, just two years out of school, and he said that he was currently involved in the higher ed administration program at Harvard. He was like the smartest kid at Brandeis, So that wasn’t a surprise at all. But it was a one year program that he was in, and I immediately said they have Master’s degrees in higher ed administration? I have to research that! So I went home, and For me personally because I was living at home, I wanted to go to graduate school and wanted to live there and experience there. So a quick search later showed that UMass Amherst had the program I wanted. It was two hours away from home, which was perfect, where I could go home but, you know, not commute. And, they had also the tracks, which is very important to look at for anyone considering a higher ed program. There’s usually typically a student affairs track, And then a higher ed track, which is more academic I feel. Like what I do–career services actually reports to academic advising in my current role– It’s different in every institution. Or also even an experiential education track, Which is sort of a new and growing field within higher education. So it’s important to look at the tracks, look at the duration; my program was for two years But there was also an option to go part-time for three years. So some people in my, you know, incoming class did that as well. So, You know, and I went to a welcome weekend They had, so take advantage of those. You know, it’s more like open house but for graduate school! And you can ask a lot of questions, meet people you’d be the program with and decide. So that’s how I found it. It was such an amazing experience: I actually had to do practical experience; I had to have practicum, it was basically the same as an internship, and that had to be different than my graduate assistantship. So I hate these two distinct work experiences, and that helped me move on my career higher ed, I originally went to go further in development, where I was working, but had So many courses and so many unique Experiences from there that I really wanted to pursue something else, and then fell into my role in human resources. And as many HR Administrators out there can tell you a lot of people who end up in HR don’t set out to end up in HR; They just sort of find themselves there. So that helped me, But my general degree in higher education has absolutely helped me in every role I’ve had with a higher education. It’s all-purpose, It’s all-encompassing. and something I can always fall back on. [Meridith] Great. Thank you, Lee. Sherri? [Sherri] Yes. So, I went To Boston College, and I had been at Brandeis as an Assistant Director for a couple years, And the Associate Director at the time had just finished The higher ed Master’s program there at Boston College, so that was how I learned about that program. It was actually the only program I applied to. It is one of the top ten education programs around, so Applied and got in and one feature that I liked about it Like Lee said, was that I could do it part time. So I was working full-time and doing the program part time, so I did it over a three-year period, And one great thing about working in higher edges to put a little plug in here Is that you can get your master’s degree all or completely paid for. So Brandeis paid for 75% of my master’s degree, which was incredible to not have to take out more loans, so that’s that’s a really nice feature of working in Higher Ed. And the program was was really really strong. You had some core classes that you had to take but you could put your own… you had to take about 6 electives. You could put your your own bent on it. And having been a Psychology Major at Brandeis and having thought about being a psychologist, I went with the Student Development Psychology bent to my degree, which helped me and still helps me immensely to work closely with students in those difficult situations that I was talking about earlier. So, It’s definitely been really helpful in terms of my relationships with parents and students. [Meridith] Alright, thank you. [Sharon] Yeah, so I went to grad school at Boston University, and And as Lee was saying, I didn’t know that you could get your master’s in Higher Ed. I didn’t know there were any kind of programs. I took the GREs the summer before my senior year here and knew I had five years to use those scores. I always knew I wanted to go to Grad school, I just wanted to figure out what I wanted to do. And, actually, one of my colleagues and admission had done also the Harvard program In higher ed, and as I started working, in a couple years, I said wait a second! This is what I want to do! I want to get my masters in this. So I worked here full time And I went to grad school at night. And I pushed my way through the program and did it in 18 months. So I took two classes a semester, went both summer sessions. And For me. I love the fact that you know during the day I could be working in higher ed, And, you know, kind of working through these things and we talk about them in class That night. And there were people in my class they weren’t all admissions. Actually only a couple of were admissions. There were people working in Development, Career services, in all different offices- academic offices on campus and all different schools too. Because most of the people in my program were working at least part-time. Many of them were working full-time Like me. And I also really liked that this program – all the classes were 4:00 or later. So, they really were geared toward someone who was working during the day, and So it just kind of all blended together nicely and when it came time to do research projects, I did one of my research projects about the pressure on high school students in the admissions process. I did another research project on connection between someone’s undergraduate major and donations to their alma mater, and is there any connection. So, I was able to kind of build upon things that I was doing during the day and Tie it all back, and so for me, it was very rewarding and it’s very good decision. [Meridith] Great, so overwhelmingly positive plugs for getting a degree. I think perhaps there are Positions that you can take in higher ed, in fact, I know there are where you do not need The Master’s degree. But usually to move up in any department, they like to see that you have a higher degree. In fact that’s a good segue to a question from Another audience member from I believe this is from Madison… Where’d you go? What about more recent graduates who don’t have as much work experience? Are there certain positions where being a recent grad might be an advantage? I can take that question and then we can pass it around. I can certainly tell you that… Go back to admissions… A lot of schools like to see that you recently graduated, still excited about college, and Are excited about promoting the programs that a college has to offer. Certainly the college you went to would be a good place to start, but there are admissions roles; usually as Sharon mentioned before, Admissions is a jump-off point to other roles, so it’s usually a swinging door for money. I would say, so admissions is definitely an area where you can get a job with a bachelor’s degree. Also residence life Is another place where a lot of people start their career in higher ed. You do not need a master’s degree get started in Res-Life. So I would say, Admissions, Res-Life, and I believe there are certain positions in Financial Aid and the Registrar’s office as well… and student activities are all areas where with a bachelor’s degree you could jump in and Start in an entry-level position. Does anyone else want to add to that? [Sharon] Sure! I’ll add to it! This is Sharon. First of all quick Shout out to out to Madison! I think I remember you when you were a student applying and we were trying to coordinate in an off-campus interview for you, And you lived in the South in a location where we didn’t have alumni interviewers… if I’m getting the person right! But in terms of – if you’re a very recent grad, I mean one thing to think of is also draw on the experiences you had As a student. I mean, as we’ve all mentioned we were either student volunteers or student workers in Various offices here on throughout campus. And that especially as a recent grad it hasn’t worked full time, I mean that experience should be on your resume. Meridith can speak more to and Lee can speak more to That bad piece of it. But absolutely. That is relevant experience that you have had in that setting. And in terms of jobs… I know in our in our office in Development of Alumni relations, we have Some very recent grads who were within the past couple years, and their roles are that called Department Coordinators. So it’s a lot of good Administrative assistant work, but you really get a lot of experience And you get their– if it’s also a wonderful learning opportunity. That, you know, you can be supporting and working with someone who’s an Associate Director or a Director. And you can really learn from that person and kind of shadow that person a bit, while you’re getting some real work experience. And that’s something else that you can then have on your resume. [Lee] I think the final thing, this is Lee, that I would just like to add to it because it’s hard for me to add anything else to that… I’d say definitely look for positions since you are recent grad and you’re young that are live on- Campus positions, like a lot of the student activity ones that Meredith mentioned Are definitely live on positions, if you’re able. Because that’s something great for a recent grad to do – you get very involved in Community, Community engagement, you know get corporations involved, things like that. So I’d say do something like that while you can, before life happens. So that’s just what I would recommend. [Meridith] Fantastic. Sherri, did you ahve anything to add? Sherri are you still there? [Sherri] I’m still here. [Meridith] That’s okay actually we can… we can move on to Our last formal question and then I see we have some questions from our audience coming in which is great. So again for all three of you, Real quickly, we’ll go around can you tell our audience What’s one piece advice you’d give to fellow alumni who are looking to either enter the field of higher ed administration for the first time or transition to the field from another industry? We’ll start with… Actually, let’s start with you Sherri! [Sherri] Ok. So, I think it’s really important if you’re thinking about getting into higher ed to do some informational interviews, you know, maybe even shadow somebody to try and see what area you think you might want to go into, and That person could tell you you know how your skills might apply to that to that position. And just because you haven’t worked in financi– I’m sorry not financial aid, In higher ed before doesn’t mean that that you are not hireable. I’ve hired so many people who have never had any experience and financial aid because They either had experience working in other areas of higher education Or because they even had a work-study job or a volunteer position that had Applicable skills. So I think it’s just really important to figure out What field do you think your skills apply to and then to be really clear in your cover letter How all your past experience can apply to that position that you’re applying to. [Meridith] Great. Thank you all for– well actually no, I’m sorry let’s move on to… Let’s move on to Lee! [Lee] Definitely! Of course some of it is going to overlap with Sherri because her answer was So concise and so involved, and I have to just tell you that as a career counselor is very difficult for me to Just say one thing, so I’m going to say one thing that goes into other things So it may be considered one giant thing. So that’s what I’m going to go live. But definitely the networking and definitely do your research. In higher education, The Chronicle of Higher Education is a publication in which all higher ed administrators read & Subscribe to; that’s like the bible for hire ed administrator: the equivalent of the New York Times. Definitely read that. Definitely enhance your transferable skills and stay current. Stay current on Social Media and how that’s used in higher ed and use that to your advantage. When you think about it too, higher ed administrators and hiring managers are really looking for Leaders. They’re looking for someone with a vision. They looking for an effective communicator. Those Communication skills are so important. Someone who can analyze and create a positive climate and inspire others. So look for how you’ve done that in your past positions and really promote that in your materials. Someone who collaborates, problem solves, take risks, and Perseveres. So definitely make sure materials, your resume, your cover letter, your references… they’re all up to date & they’re the best they can possibly be. Have people look at them and Then that is the way to really guarantee the most success in your transition into Higher Ed. [Meridith] Thank you, Lee. And Sharon: [Sharon] Well, there’s probably not a whole lot I can really add to it. You’ve given such wonderful answers, and I know we kind of touched on this a little bit earlier. On another website that that I’ve looked at is I think that’s a great way you can put in there if you’re looking for admissions jobs, or jobs in financial aid, And you can have… you can set it so it sends you an email as [there are] new jobs posted in a certain field. You really customize that to help you narrow down your search For that. And I think also, again, you probably have skills that are transferable. It’s just a matter of highlighting them and also not counting yourself out Just because you look at a job when you say I’ve never done this before. Well, you probably haven’t done that exact role before, but you probably have all different pieces of it from experience in hired positions. I say just don’t sell yourself short in that sense and really look at what the job Description is saying, and say you know what I’ve done this, this, and this and as Lee and Sherri both said, you know, highlight that, And say okay I have this experience I can do this role. [Meridith] Great. All good advice. So now, we’re going to move on to some more of your questions. I see we have a question that came in from Lauren. Lauren… Tells us she’s a family lawyer Eager to transition out of litigation practice. She’s taught legal writing and found the interaction with students very rewarding. In addition to being a pre-law advisor, Which she also finds appealing, other than admissions, what other positions might you recommend where She can work with students without getting another Degree? [Lee] I can take that. Yeah, when I was at Mount Ida, we were always hiring in our writing center. Because you taught legal writing, I think that that would be perfect. So writing center usually falls under like academic advising, and Obviously a lot of writing is involved with that too. So I think that’s absolutely One area to definitely look into. And that, I’m pretty, exists at every single institution. If not, it should. Any maybe you can get one started somewhere. [Sharon] I think another thing to look at is in development offices – a lot of times if you’re dealing with gift agreements And you’re dealing with planned giving, those are basically legal documents that we’re working with & with our donors. And there’s a certain language and a certain way to put all those pieces together. So if you have that legal background – like the person in our office right now who oversees our planned gifts… he is… he’s a lawyer. Also so he has that piece of it. So, I say that is something that is very transferable as well. [Meridith] Sherri, anything to add to that one? [Sherri] I don’t think so. Can’t think of any other things. [Meridith] Okay, that’s fine. We’re going to move on. We’ve got a bunch of questions. This is from Justin. Justin writes in… In terms of getting a job interview in the higher ed field, What is the best way to follow up after you submit an application if you don’t have any connections at that particular University? [Lee] I worked in HR, so I’ll field that as well. That’s a great question. We get Questions like that actually four people applying for jobs outside of higher ed as well, So I think that the answer for that is pretty universal. When you do apply, You should wait and see if you get some sort of response, be it an automatic response because sometimes you just go through an applicant tracking System, others you apply directly to email address That someone checks. Like it’s some sort of job bank. So if you get a reply within a day or two, read that carefully. A lot of people overlook that. Say they’ll be in touch, You know they’re looking to fill it at this time… If you don’t get a reply, Then I would say wait about a week or so, and then you can follow up to see if your application was received. Also, check carefully to see if the human resources office does accept phone calls. Sometimes they’ll say no phone calls, please. You can send a Quick email to follow up. Or if you do receive a reply, And a couple weeks goes by you can certainly follow up with a quick email just asking for the timeline, because patience really is a Virtue. A lot of times a lot of Higher education and they’re hiring process can be slow. Every institution I’ve been at is known for how slow their process is. Because, you know, things come up: budgetary issues come up, people go on vacation, you know hiring managers… people are out. They have to meet with this group and they meet with this group… schedules are involved. So absolutely patience is a virtue. But some follow-up, like I said, here and there Can”t hurt you. So definitely use that, and you know we can always help you with how to write your Follow-up little email… what to include in that too. [Meridith] Thank you, Lee. I’m actually going to move us along we do have a few questions, Which is wonderful from our audience. This one’s coming in from Billy. This is a question related to graduate degrees. I’m interested in working and study abroad off-campus studies, and I’m wondering if it’s better to get an MA in international education, Which seems more specific, or to go for the more general higher ed Masters degree. Pros and cons of both; which schools have the top reputations in these programs? I’m currently considering the MA International Ed at NYU and Wonder how this particular program is viewed by those in the field. [Sherri] This is Sherri. I’ve actually participated in some hiring some people in the study abroad office at Brandeis. So, it seems like They really value… they definitely want to see that you have a Master’s. But they’re really looking to see that you’ve had some international experience. I’m not so sure that it matters so much what your master’s degree is in, but to what your experiences… Experiences have been, if you’ve lived abroad, if you’ve done any work abroad, if you’ve had any Interaction at all with international anything it seems like that’s something that they value. [Sharon] This is Sharon, and I think also when you’re researching grad school programs, everyone hit the website these days, That’s a great place to start. I think one thing that if it’s not on their website you’re something that you can call and you can ask is… Students have completed this program. What kind of jobs have they gotten? Because that will give you a sense of kind of what that directs people to do. And I’d say don’t, you know, don’t be afraid… it’s like when you’re applying to college as an undergrad. It’s the same process. You want to make sure that the program that you’re doing is the right program for you. Because there are so many higher ed programs out there and some are very very specific and some are more general. So I’d say definitely when you’re applying you ask a lot of questions and make sure that it’s the right match for you. [Meridith] Great. Lee did you have anything you wanted to add to that? [Lee] I did, but I didn’t want to make it too long. I just wanted to say That I do have a colleague who works in study abroad at BC And he was in my higher ed administration program, however at Mount Ida where I used to work too, our Director of Study Abroad sort of inherited that role because she was also director of Inter-Cultural Affairs. So sometimes you know people could be moved into these types of positions. And I honestly could… don’t; I couldn’t even tell you her master’s degree, Because she’s been in the field for something like 20 years. But with her experience, There was no doubt that she was she was you know she was the perfect person for that Field and for that job. Just like Sherri said. But I just want to emphasize that I’ve definitely seen both. [Meridith] Thank you. We have a question that has come in from… Abraham…? And the question is… At the recent Biotech Healthcare Forum Here at Brandeis, one of the faculty members mentioned that due to budget constraints in academic centers, When rare opportunities became available, staff had to hire internal hires versus external hires. Do you have any tips for external hires to break in? [Lee] I’ve seen it–this is Lee. Just in my HR Experience, because we have moved a lot of people when I was at Mount Ida Internally and we also hired extremely pretty much just as much. You have to keep in mind that whatever job is posted, They need the person most qualified for that position. Sometimes internal candidates can have more knowledge of the culture of the University, and perhaps You know some money can be saved on training. However, if someone you know from the outside has more comparable experience and more direct experience, then they may be better suited. Sometimes, also just so you know this too, a lot of internal Candidates are sort of granted a courtesy interview, because of their service to the university or the institution. And it doesn’t always guarantee that they’re going to get the position, because Absolutely, I can guarantee you I’ve seen both in my years in human resources. [Meridith] Thank you, Lee. We’re going to move forward it looks like we have a question from Adam… I’m currently finishing my doctorate in film studies, But would like to transition to a position that keeps me at the university level. What kinds of positions should I be looking for besides tenure-track jobs? So of course this program is all about positions and higher ed outside of the classroom, So… [Sharon] This is Sharon! I’m just thinking, you know, here on campus we have, you know, the National Center for Jewish film. I think that there’s… that Schools that have; if you’re looking to remain in that in that field, I think that there are schools that have those programs outside of the academic setting that kind of Complements the academic programs that are offered, and so it’s not necessarily a teaching position that you’re looking for, but I mean I think of, You know, what we have here on campus in terms of the work that goes on there And it doesn’t have to be necessarily doing what’s directly related to being in the classroom. [Lee] I agree, I think you do need to do some work though, some research and research What institutions have those screen studies programs because they’re not everywhere. And then see the types of administrative roles in those Schools that have those programs such as a Program Director type role; a lot of those do require PhD. Also talk with some of the film Professors here at Brandeis. Talk to… is Tom Doherty still here? [Sharon or Meridith] He is here! [Lee] You know, see if you can talk to Tom Doherty and talk to them and see what connections They have and definitely go from there. [Meridith] Right. All right. It looks like… Sherri did you have anything you wanted to add to that one? [Sherri] Nothing more than what had already been said. I’m good. [Meridith] Well, we have one last question then. This one is from Kim… What strategies and tips would you offer to someone with several years of administrative experience in higher education And a Master’s in the social sciences, not a higher education administration degree? [Sherri] This is Sherri. I would be really thrilled to interview somebody with a social sciences degree for financial aid and I’m sure that most departments on campus would probably be really happy to see that Master’s degree because in a social science because So much of what administration staff administration does at Brandeis is related to relating to students, relating to parents. You don’t necessarily have to have a higher education degree to get an interview for a higher education job. Definitely. And so many people get into higher ed from so many other Paths, that it’s not a traditional path–people don’t go to college Usually to get into higher ed, although apparently I did. But, Definitely that social science degree is just as valuable as a higher education degree in terms of, you know, Most of the fields here I think would value that degree very much. [Lee] I agree. I think that no Master’s degree should be looked at as a negative. I think it’s up to you now to really market your liberal arts degree. Talk about your communication skills talk about your oral, written… you know communication skills. Talk about your Flexibility & you adaptability, Research skills that you have that you gain from that Master’s degree and just building off with Sherri said absolutely use that experience. [Meridith] I think you covered everything beautifully! So, I’m just noting the time and we did get a chance to answer Both of the questions that were asked so this is wonderful. I did want to call your attention to the resources that have been up on the screen. If you would like further information about Careers in higher education I encourage all of you to go to It’s a fantastic online career exploration library that was put together by a small consortium of Liberal Arts schools called The Liberal Arts Career Network. Brandeis is a member school and each school chose a career field to completely profile from soup to nuts from industry trends, to suggested, Grad Programs, Alumni Profiles and Higher education is one of those fields in spotlight in the library. So from off-campus as an alum, You will need to use in the password to get in. And how convenient, I put it up on the slide for you. So I do encourage you to go onto spotlight, look under the title of education, and click on careers In higher education and you will see many resources That I think will be helpful to you, Not just in terms of the job search, but also in terms of learning more about different functions within higher ed as well. Also up on screen is the website for Hiatt Career Center and Alumni Association. And it goes without saying there’s lots of fantastic Announcements and resources and services on both of those websites, so please do visit them early and often as we like to say. And then our last slide, some of these sites were alluded to earlier in the program: the Chronicle of Higher Education,, and These are three sites that are really Three of the the top go to sites for people are looking for jobs in a higher education Setting. So, I encourage all of you to to look at these sites as well. I do want to take this time now to thank our three phenomenal panelists for being with us tonight after a long layover on a college campus. Sherri Avery, Lee Goldstein, and Sharon Rosenberg. Thank you, thank you, thank you, for being so generous with your time and advice. We really appreciate it. And I would also like to say to our audience members, if you’re interested in learning more about Hiatt programming and services, Do be sure to visit our Hiatt Career Center website, which I just pointed out. I’m repeating myself… For further resources at You’re also welcome to schedule an appointment to meet with a Hiatt Career Counselor to discuss your own individual Interests and to create a career action plan to help you to get to the next step. And you can schedule an appointment By calling our main Hiatt number at 781-736-3618. Again, that’s 781-736-3618. Or, if you’re local, you can stop by the Hiatt front desk, get a piece of chocolate. and schedule an appointment with our Fantastic front desk staff. And know that our next webinar program will be on Wednesday, November 16 (2011), Again at 7:00 p.m., E.S.T., and our topic will “Be Your Own Boss: The Challenges and Rewards of Owning a Small Business”. And I’m Wondering did you have – did you want to make a plug for a program or any initiative or anything? [Sharon] Not specifically, but just as Meridith said, visit the alumni website,, and we do 150 events a year, so there’s everything from faculty speakers to performing arts to family-friendly to athletics events. I’ll also say if you’re interested in an event and you don’t current see that we do something, please don’t be shy. You’re welcome to contact the Alumni office at any point, And we’d be happy to talk to you about getting you more involved or coming to events. [Meridith] Fantastic. Well, with that said, I want to thank all of you for joining Hiatt Career Center and the Alumni Association for this enjoyable and instructive program. Enjoy the rest of your Wednesday night. Good night!

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