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Job Seeker Engagement: Spotlighting Higher Ed Professionals

By Marcia Silva posted 6 days ago

HERC positions higher education as an attractive career option and expands the higher education candidate pool to bolster our members’ diversity outreach efforts. A key component of our work to engage both active and passive job seekers at different stages in their careers is through content marketing – producing and distributing relevant, useful content that supports career exploration, job searching, and career advancement.
Our content for job seekers includes profiles of diverse higher ed professionals in various positions and career stages. Our goal with these profiles is to share real stories of individuals who have pursued careers in higher education – what they do, how they got there, and any advice they have. Promoting higher education as a desirable sector to work in is a consistent need of our members and these profiles capitalize on the power of narrative to inform and inspire.  
Below are excerpts from recent profiles, with links to the full articles. We encourage you to leverage our content for job seekers, including these profiles, for your own institution’s recruitment efforts. For example, you could link to specific articles on your job seeker-facing social media accounts or on your online career center for students. 

Headshot of Natali Smith
Natali Smith, Admissions 
[As a student,] I was a peer mentor and held many leadership positions including President of NPHC, Vice President of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Incorporated, Vice President of The Black Student Union, and more…From my student involvement, I knew that funding was an issue for a lot of our student organizations. I thought about what we needed to do and who to connect with to get the help that we needed. I began to visit the administration office to find help and I quickly learned that they love when students come to visit them! 
I remember having a conversation with someone in the administration’s office one day. They told me that I was a great student leader and suggested that I consider working in higher education because we need a lot more women, particularly women of color, in higher education so that students who look like me can also have someone to look up to. Also, there’s the advocating piece that I was doing as a student. From being a student to now becoming a staff member, it makes it even easier to get students connected with the help and resources that they need. 

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Headshot of Elisa East
Elisa East, Student Affairs
I serve as the Interim Director of the Military and Veterans Program. I oversee the processing of federal and state educational benefits, develop existing and new programming initiatives, facilitate student engagement opportunities, and provide supportive services to enable students to progress toward and achieve their educational objectives.
Being a veteran has served me in this role by providing me with valuable skills such as discipline, leadership, and adaptability. These traits have been instrumental in effectively working with diverse student populations and navigating complex organizational structures. It’s also provided me with the ability to understand the nuances of military life and culture that often cannot be articulated unless you experienced it. 
Before moving into a career in higher education, I wish I knew more about the intricacies of the academic landscape, including institutional dynamics, funding challenges, and the importance of building strong networks and collaborations.

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Headshot of Sabrina Small

Sabrina Small, Human Resources
Shortly after completing my undergraduate degree, I started in passenger service for an airline at JFK Airport. Moving forward in the ranks over a 2-year period, I became the training coordinator for that station… My role entailed organizing and facilitating open houses, setting up and conducting interviews and training sessions, onboarding, and processing hiring forms. So that was my introduction to Human Resources. 
Working in the airline industry was exciting but unpredictable and, as I began to plan for my future, I sought opportunities that could provide more stability. A close friend reached out to me about an opportunity at Columbia and it happened to be as an HR coordinator at SIPA, the School of International Public Affairs. This was my introduction to academia, and I have enjoyed being a part of the community for over 20 years.
I remain motivated by any positive impact that I’m able to make, whether it be as simple as implementing a basic system or process that helps to streamline and increase productivity, or if it’s career guidance that I offer to someone that allows me to see their career progression. I am particularly grateful when I can offer this kind of help, because I understand and have appreciated the benefits of being on the receiving end of that guidance.

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Headshot of Ali Abdel-Fattah

Ali Abdel-Fattah, IT
Higher education aligns with my desire to pursue continued development, professionally and personally. The higher ed environment is dynamic and consistently innovating. This environment has presented new and exciting challenges daily with a comradery that is reminiscent of the military.
The work ethic and drive that it takes to succeed in the military translate very well in this space. I have found many opportunities to improve, own, and lead process improvements on many fronts. This has ultimately led to my rapid career advancement.
[Some similarities between working in higher education and serving in the military include the] feeling of teamwork, comradery, and evolving challenges…all to serve a meaningful purpose that is not just about making money. I have found the private sector to be more cutthroat and likely to exploit and burn you out, as opposed to higher ed.

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