Job Title: Assistant Director, Higher Education
Type of Company: I work for a graduate program that is part of a larger university in the Metro-Boston area.
Education: BA - Anthropology, Classical Archaeology and Art History MA - Anthropology Current student in Ph.D. Program in Anthropology
Previous Experience: I worked in several office type settings, all in higher education, before moving into this position. I have mostly worked for different parts of the same organization, each time moving internally but to higher positions. My previous jobs included office type work, previously as an assistant to the head of different groups.
Job Tasks: My job primarily consists of handling all aspects of registration and communication for the graduate program at my university. I, along with others in my group, manage the day to day operations of the graduate program.
As part of the registration process, I help new and current students select their courses, enroll in these courses, and basically handle all the aspects of the registration process including payment and billing. I also assist instructors in placing book orders, collecting syllabi, and acting as a point person for any instructor needs or concerns. At the end of the term, I work with the instructors and students regarding grades, any reimbursement needs, and I get started on setting up for the next semester. We have three semesters each year, so my job is somewhat cyclical, with the same processes happening during each semester. I work with approximately 400 students each semester (or term), and approximately 75 instructors. We offer about 40 classes per term, in 6 different graduate programs.
The other piece of my job is communication. I am the point person for all news that comes out of this office. I am responsible for sending notices to students and instructors of important events, deadlines, and other news. I usually do this by email. I am also in charge of handling the website for my program. I make any updates to the website as necessary, and am currently working towards a new design for our website.
Best and Worst Parts of the Job: The best parts of my job are working with students. I love to see the students succeed in their school and in their careers. I particularly love going to commencement/graduation, and seeing the proud faces of my students and their families as they come to an end of their studies. Some even come back because they enjoy and value the educational opportunities we provide.
The parts I dislike can sometimes also be the students! My job can also be considered a customer service type of position, and the students are the customers. If they are unhappy, they will let me know! And I then need to work hard to make it right. Also, some days the amount of work can be overwhelming - the paperwork to be filed, the emails to respond to - but I try to remember that I am doing something good and helping out others.
Job Tips: If you are looking to work in higher education administration, it is important that you also focus on your own education - your education level is important to prospective students who your organization wants to educate. Also, try working in offices as a student, to get some ideas about how an office or university works.
Additional Thoughts: My best advice is that sometimes, you take a job that might not be your ideal job, but you make the best of it and learn something from every job that you can take with you and use in your next job. Try to take something useful from every event in your life - never stop learning! Even if it seems like you can't possibly get anything out of a situation, you are still learning! Always keep that in mind as you move along with your career. Take a little something extra with you wherever you go, and you will always be one step ahead of your competition.
I try to keep this in mind as I continue my own education and work towards the career I hope to have. I need to continue my formal education to work in my chosen field, and while it is tough to balance school and work, it is rewarding. I keep myself focused on my goal.
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