The Transition from Corporate to Higher Ed

Posted in Blog on 04/08/2013

My first job after graduating college was in a consumer finance company. I was essentially a salesman of high priced financial products; a loan shark. Our company was licensed for products charging all the way up to 36% interest, and I had a strict quota of new business I had to bring in each month. To hit these numbers, there was fairly ruthless competition among the various salesmen in the office. I worked long hours to meet my numbers each month, and went home at night mad at the world.

My Ticket Out

After working at this company for about 6 months, the company I worked for bought out another local finance company and that branch manager came to work for us. He and I had many conversations about the industry, and he picked up very quickly that I was unhappy. He informed me after a few weeks, that during the process of his company being bought out, he had applied for other jobs because he was not sue if he would be guaranteed a new job or not.

He had just been offered the position of Bursar, at a local community college. The term “Bursar” is a foreign word for anyone outside of the Higher Ed industry, but it generally refers to the person in charge of the cashiering or student billing office on a college campus.

This former branch manager only worked with me for about 6 weeks, but during that time he planted in me the seeds of hope. During our talks he spoke about how the competitive nature of the corporate finance world drove him to do things he was not proud of. He talked about the pressure, the stress, and the hard work t pad someone else’s pockets. He also talked about the opportunities that existed on a college campus.

Prior to meeting this man, I had never even considered working on a college campus. I had assumed that there was one president, a few support staff, and the faculty that made a college function. Boy was I wrong.

My Transition from Corporate to Higher Ed

A few short months later, after the old branch manager had left to take his new job as a Bursar, he called me and told me about a job opportunity at the same local college in the financial aid office. He said that it was a counselor position, and that he would put a good word in for me if I wanted to apply.

I jumped at the chance, and submitted my application that night. 6 weeks later I was offered the job, turned in my letter of resignation at the finance company, and never looked back.

Why Make the Transition to Higher Ed?

Many people find themselves working in the Higher Ed industry as a matter of chance. I never met a single person in undergraduate experience who had dreams of working on a college campus (other than possibly pursuing a Ph.D and becoming a professor). Most people are not aware that large colleges have thousands of administrative, staff, and executive level positions available on a college campus.

Compared to the corporate world, these positions often offer:

  • less stress
  • less competition
  • the fulfillment of seing students pursue and reach their goals.
  • job security
  • good benefits

The pay is generally not up to par with the corporate sector, but the work/life increases generally outweigh the decrease in salary. Working in Higher Ed is not for everyone, but if you are looking the make the transition out of corporate America, this may just be the best place to land!

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