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Career Story: Administrative Manager At A University

Administrative Manager At A University

Job Title: Administrative Manager

Type of Company: I work in the Purchasing, Administrative and Campus Services department of a university on the outskirts of Boston. Our department functions as a primary business arm of the university, managing all purchasing and outside vendor contracts.

Education: M.A. in Children's Literature, Simmons College •• B.S. in Business Administration, Boston University

Previous Experience: I worked in continuing education at the Boston Center for Adult Education for six years prior to returning to graduate school. During and after graduate school, I was Executive Director at a small non-profit educational organization in the Boston area.

Job Tasks: In addition to managing our office, I also oversee the corporate credit card program for the university. That program provides access to credit cards for faculty and staff travel and "small dollar" purchases. In that role I process applications for credit cards, monitor spending on a daily basis, adjust credit limits as needed, train cardholders on the ins and outs of the program, and oversee monthly reporting by cardholders on what they've spent.

I also manage the university's off-site record storage program, assisting various departments determine what documents they need to keep on campus, and what can be shipped to an off-site storage facility. I train people in various departments on how to use the program software and work with the storage provider. I also complete a sporadic audit of the program to ensure that records are not being held longer than necessary.

I also maintain our department's web site, following the guidelines and standards set forth by the university's marketing department and web services staff.

I monitor all department revenue streams, and provide weekly, monthly, and quarterly reporting on such.

In addition to my general office management duties, I assist the director and assistant director with major projects, including researching vendors for various commodities and/or services, creating summaries of quotes on projects, contract review and administration.

Best and Worst Parts of the Job: One of the best parts of the job is that every day is different - even though many of my duties are somewhat repetitive, anything can happen at any time. I get to work with a great variety of interesting people, which I greatly enjoy. I'd say the worst part of my job is waiting on others to provide information and feedback in order to complete some of my projects. Often more urgent matters push my projects to the "back burner" and it's difficult to have a sense of accomplishment.

Job Tips: Purchasing does not equal shopping; you can love to shop and be lousy at purchasing. It does require a broad business knowledge, and incredible attention to detail.

Develop excellent people skills - people make and break any deal; knowing how to work with/manage a variety of personalities is critical to job success in this field.

Think critically and ask lots of questions! Don't just pursue the obvious choices or solutions. Consider all the options and have a sense of what's best for your organization, not just what's the lowest price. And strong organizational skills are a must.

Additional Thoughts: I think the most critical element in a successful career is the desire to continue learning. I came into this job with no experience in Purchasing. My boss took a look at the breadth of my background (which included everything from systems administration to educational program design, to managing an entire organization) and found a combination of skills and interests that she felt would compliment those of the rest of the staff. But I'm the kind of person who is always eager to learn new things, so dove into the job with all I had to give. And I was thrilled to discover that it was/is a good fit.

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