Help us brainstorm new career paths
November 2, 2010 10:06 AM   Subscribe

Please help brainstorm potential career paths for a friend who currently works in higher education administration. She wants to branch out into something new, but doesn't know what kind of careers might match up to her experience and talents. Details inside.

Asking for a friend: she has an M.A. in an unrelated field, and her experience includes over five years in higher education administration at a prestigious university.

The reason she's interested in leaving her current career is that it doesn't have room to advance, and she doesn't find it particularly fulfilling.

Right now she isn't sure what positions or career paths might exist (outside of higher education admin jobs,) where she could use these skills and/or her past experience to garner a salary that meets her needs.

She is great with customer service, working one-on-one with people, public speaking, written communication and organization. She most enjoys counseling/advising people, research, and writing. She prefers a challenge, over something mindless but easy. She prefers to live in a cosmopolitan area, and thus is looking for careers with salaries of at least $55,000 or up. (So entry-level positions are out.)

We are looking for career suggestions of any kind, no matter how off-the-wall, that someone from higher ed admin could transfer into without having to go back to school.

posted by np312 to Work & Money (5 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I'm not directly answering your question, and I apologize, but I'm just throwing this out there.

I've done a bunch of things in my life, and not one was something that "matched up to my experience and talents". Rather, I plunged in because I felt passion and enthusiasm, and gained experience and talent on the fly.

This is, of course, a more effective route when you're not seeking entry through the front door into established positions in established organizations. But that sort of thing is mostly for unimaginative and unergetic people who like to keep their noses down. Your friend, by contrast, sounds like she has energy and creativity, so she ought to be looking beyond. And using that energy and creativity to chart the way.
posted by Quisp Lover at 10:23 AM on November 2, 2010

What form of higher education administration does she do? Answer here will vary if her experience is in advising vs admissions vs institutional research vs program/department coordination vs academic support and so on.
posted by Pineapplicious at 10:41 AM on November 2, 2010

Looking at the transferable skills you've noted, it seems your friend would most be attracted to visible, client facing roles.

I'm a banker so my suggestions will naturally reflect this, but most financial services institutions need loads of people with the attributes & skills you've noted (i.e., a focus on customer service, ability to communicate in a clear and organised manner).

I'd suggest she start to look at the various positions available in this field; there are all sorts of customer facing jobs available, many of which don't require specialised knowledge as they'll train you themselves in their own products and processes.

If she does think financial services is a match she can improve her chances of getting a position by taking a few courses, maybe even something at the certificate level in regulatory or a closely related sub field.

The money wouldn't be a problem and neither would the urban living requirement.

Advancement in most financial services firms is open ended; almost all are pure meritocracies, where the harder you work the more responsibility (and compensation) you get.

I'm available on MeMail for followups if I can help!
posted by Mutant at 10:51 AM on November 2, 2010 [2 favorites]

Best answer: How about fundraising/alumni relations for a university or college (heck - even the one she works at now)? It's a huge industry and can be really rewarding work for people with the skills your friend has. Also she has a natural tie-in with her experience in higher-ed: many institutions value external relations people who have knowledge of the often quirky way academia works...

Check out the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education's website for more information about the field and job opportunities.

If nothing else, fundraising/alumni relations can be a great way to transition out of pure higher-ed admin - once you get firm fundraising experience with a big organization like a university, it can be really easy to switch into other sectors (children, health, international development - the list is really endless these days!) Plus there is huge demand for people in this field.
posted by elkerette at 11:08 AM on November 2, 2010

There are typically some interesting lateral moves available to higher ed administrative staff. The person in charge of student activities or student judicial affairs may take a job in admissions or running a collaborative science center or managing communications for the library or IT. There are upward moves too, as a director of IT becomes the registrar or a director of facilities becomes a vice president of administration. The whole point of university staff careers is to switch roles like that every 5-10 years. And going to another university to do it is an interesting move too.
posted by Monsieur Caution at 5:23 PM on November 2, 2010

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