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Monday, November 16, 2015
Exploring administrative careers in higher education

We heard the personal stories and perspectives of a diverse set of accomplished panelists who have successfully navigated non-faculty academic positions in the Navigating Your Future luncheon to explore administrative careers in higher education. The event was co-sponsored by the Office of Inclusion and Student Engagement, the Office of Postdoctoral Studies, Cornell Career Services and the BEST Program. SPEAKERS (r to l):

Andrew GossenSenior Director for Social Media Strategy, Alumni Affairs & Development, Cornell University

George GrillsAssistant Dean for Research Resources and Director of Advanced Technology Assessment, Weill Cornell Medical

Jami JoynerDirector of Diversity Programs in Engineering, Cornell College of Engineering

Marina MarkotDirector, Cornell Abroad

Alice LiInterim Executive Director, Center for Technology Licensing at Cornell University

The speakers opened with brief overviews of their careers and tips for grad students and postdocs. Moderator Christine Holmes, Director of the Office of Postdoctoral Studies, aptly summarized the common take home messages: "be flexible, think outside the box, and network--get involved!" After all, "anything important that's worthwhile doing is not easy," said Alice Li.

When asked how the speakers chose their path, as they must have passed on certain opportunities and made some choices that weren't optimal, one audience member prompted answers that would shed light on the decision making process. "I write well, but I don't like writing," Jami Joyner shared, "-this helped me decide I didn't want to become faculty. I like writing executive briefs and short summaries."

George Grills shared some of the jobs he had that helped him realize he didn't want to do that type of work, and added, "Every choice is nerve-wracking...every step adds to your learning experience, whether you learn what you don't want or what you love."

Marina Markot chimed in, "Don't overanalyze the decision-making process. You can't always rationalize and think through something you don't know, so be open." Sometimes it's fine to just trust that gut feeling and take a risk. You can't anticipate what life will deal out, and have to remain flexible and receptive to new opportunities.

Advice to grad students and postdocs? "Pay attention to the environment and learn about trends," said Andrew Gossen, speaking from his own experience realizing that social media can be a powerful tool to unite people. This will "eventually help define what the next solution will be and position you strategically to be the go-to expert." He now has a job where he has to use Facebook at work.

Alice Li added, "Leverage your strengths but venture into new areas while you are in that position to learn new skills and develop new strengths." She started as a technology licensing officer based on her past entrepreneurial industry experience, but then learned how to negotiate contracts, something she had not previously been exposed to.

George Grills added a suggestion: "Think what's fun for you and how you can make a job out of it. Concentrate on doing what you most enjoy." Marina Malkot underscored the importance of "motivation and willingness to do new jobs, and then describing them" in re-written job descriptions to document your new skills. 

EVENT FLYER: click here                                                        PHOTO CREDIT: Sara Xayarath Hernandez