Is it Inappropriate for Men to Ask Women Out at Work?

by Lee Desser

Comedian and late night television host, Samantha Bee, brought up something interesting on NPR’s Fresh Air about sexual harassment.

She started off with a couple of news stories of women facing discrimination for avoiding men’s sexual advances at work, and at the end of her segment she said, “Right now I’m actually picturing some guy saying, ‘Ugh! What do I have to do? Stop asking women out at work because it makes them uncomfortable?’ ” To which she replied, “Yes. You are at work.”

I’d always thought of sexual harassment as a habitual offense of great magnitude. The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission seems to agree: “…the law doesn’t prohibit simple teasing, offhand comments, or isolated incidents that are not very serious, harassment is illegal when it is so frequent or severe that it creates a hostile or offensive work environment or when it results in an adverse employment decision (such as the victim being fired or demoted).” Yet,  ideally,  shouldn’t a woman  be able to go to work or school and not have to deal with the added pressures of  a man (or anyone) hitting on her? Shouldn’t work or school be a safe zone from sexual advances?

SNL did a skit on workplace relationships titled, “Sexual Harassment and You,” starring Tom Brady (Greg) and Fred Armison (Frank). In short, when the “average-looking” Frank asks a woman out to lunch she shuts him down, scoffing at “the ask,” and presumably calls human resources to report the incident. Then, when the “Adonis-looking” Greg asks the same woman out, she cheerfully agrees and doesn’t seem to mind him cupping her breast.

At the end of the segment, the narrator determines that ultimately, “You can have sex with women at work without losing your job by following a few simple rules: be handsome, be attractive, and don’t be unattractive.”

I realize that people  (including many women) are fiercely divided on this issue. One night I was at a woman’s book club and I  told an anecdote  about how, when I was taking a course at a community college, a man 30+ years my senior asked me if I wanted to “hang out this weekend” and how it made me feel incredibly awkward and uncomfortable.

“How dare he?” I thought. “Now I have to run into him Monday through Friday and avoid his advances. Will he ask again? How will I say no? Why is it that when a woman is nice to a man he assumes that she’s interested in him?” I complained to my girlfriends about this and, to my surprise, not everyone agreed. Some said he had every right to ask; he didn’t know I would say, no. “What about the age difference?” I said. To which one woman replied, “My uncle is 20 years older than my aunt. It happens.” This changed my mind a bit. Maybe it wasn’t so out of line?

If I had to draw a conclusion it would be that asking a woman out only makes  her uncomfortable if  she isn’t interested. Yet, a man  may not know if a woman is interested if he doesn’t ask her out, right?  In the end, Samantha Bee’s  statement at the end of her segment may be the only advice that people can agree on , “…if you must ask a colleague out at least learn to take no for an answer…” What do you think?

Lee DesserLee Desser, career and academic adviser, Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/lmdesser

 

Collaboration: More Isn’t Always Better

by Kathy Douglas

Collaboration is taking over the workplace. — Rob Cross, Reb Rebele, and Adam Grant

Teamwork, collaboration, stakeholder engagement—these are all buzzwords in job descriptions where interactions with clients and colleagues are integral to getting work done.   “Over the past two decades,” according to Rob Cross, Reb Rebele, and Adam Grant in their article in the Harvard Business Review, Collaborative Overload, “the time spent by managers and employees in collaborative activities has ballooned by 50 percent or more.”

What are the implications of this change in the workplace?  Workloads become lopsided — when “20 to 35 percent of value-added collaborations come from only 3 to 5 percent of employees.”  Women bear a disproportionate share of collaborative work. Top collaborators are in demand by colleagues, and tend to burn out fast. Top collaborators are often not recognized by senior management, and studies show that they have the lowest levels of job satisfaction.

As advisers, we encourage students to enter the work force with enthusiasm and to go the extra mile. Take on additional duties, we counsel. Do an extraordinary job.  But according to Cross, Rebele, and Grant, while “a single ‘extra miler’—an employee who frequently contributes beyond the scope of his or her role—can drive team performance more than all the other members combined…this ‘escalating citizenship’…only further fuels the demands placed on top collaborators.”

Should we then be telling our students a different story?  Should students entering the work force in large companies and organizations temper their enthusiasm when it comes to collaboration, and if so, how?

Part of the answer lies in knowing the nature of collaboration and collaborative resources, which Cross, Rebele, and Grant discuss.

Part of it lies in the corollary to the authors’ assertion that: “Leaders must learn to recognize, promote, and efficiently distribute the right kinds of collaborative work.” Namely, employees (and the students we advise) must also learn to recognize their own work, promote themselves, and create effective boundaries to avoid collaborative overload.

I think the message career advisers convey can still insist on doing a great job and expanding one’s role in ways that are in line with one’s talents and interests.  But I think it’s also important for students, before entering the work force, to develop strategies to avoid collaboration overload and the burn out it can generate.

As Cross, Rebele, and Grant aptly note: “Collaboration is indeed the answer to many of today’s most pressing business challenges. But more isn’t always better.”

Kathryn DouglasKathy Douglas, Senior Associate Director Career Development Office, Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies
LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/douglaskathy
Twitter: @fescdo
Facebook: www.facebook.com/pages/Yale-FES-Career-Development-Office/134339426609741
Website: environment.yale.edu/cdo

International Students in the United States: What Every Higher Education Professional Should Know

by Iyad Uakoub

Iyad Uakoub and his students

As a higher education and career services professional, coming from an international background, I have always related to issues on diversity and social justice on a professional and personal level. After finishing my master’s at Purdue University—#1 in the United States for international students majoring in STEM—and working with thousands of international students and scholars at International Center, Purdue University and Stanford University, it became apparent to me that the challenges international students face have roots in systematic social inequity.  In this blog, I will be taking a look at the issue of social justice for international students in the United States and the role of student services professionals in promoting equity within this community.

Why International Students?

More than a million international students are currently studying in the United States, a 9 percent increase over 2014. Enrollment trends show all time high with 4.8 percent of total student enrollment in 2015. Science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) and business majors attract most international students. Students from China, India, South Korea, and Saudi Arabia represent 58 percent of the total enrollment of international students in the United States.

uakoub2

In 2014-15 alone, international students contributed $30.5 billion dollars to the U.S economy and supported 373,381 jobs. NASFA reported, for every 7seven international students enrolled, three U.S. jobs are created or supported by spending occurring in the following sectors: higher education, accommodation, dining, retail, transportation, telecommunications, and health insurance. Although one could argue that international students receive U.S. money to fund their educations, IIE’s Open Door reports that only 21 percent of funding comes though U.S. scholarships, assistantships, or fellowships. The majority of funding comes through personal, family, foreign government, or international organizations.

uakoub3

Although the number of international students in the United States is increasing, the bigger picture tells a different story. According to OECD, international students comprise of 4 percent only of total enrollment in the United States when compared to countries like the UK (18 percent) and Australia (19 percent).

Economic values and opportunities are not the most important thing international students bring to the United States: They bring global perspectives and innovative approaches along with diversity and cultural exposure. No wonder these students are actively sought after by American universities. However, they face four major challenges during their college career:

  1. Job market: International students struggle during and after earning their degrees to find major-related internships and jobs. Most of them are funded by their families. They are pressured to secure employment in the United States to compensate for the investment in education and to gain social capital upon their return to their home countries.
  2. New academic environment: New topics, professors, and teaching methods— these are challenges that apply to all students, domestic and international, and they exert a higher effect on those who have never experienced the U.S. educational system.
  3. Different country: International students are challenged to adapt to barriers that naturally arise in a new country, such as culture, weather, food, and language. The latter in particular discourages the brightest international students from active class and team participation as they expect negative social outcomes and they fall into evaluation apprehension social stigma.
  4. Neo-racism: In her research, Professor Jennie J. Lee of the University of Arizona, shows that international students from Asia, Africa, Latin America, and the Middle East struggle with covert and overt forms of neo-racism. They deal with peer, faculty, administrators’, and employers’ stereotypes and negative assumptions and are subject to inappropriate remarks on accents, discrimination and verbal insults, or even physical assaults.

Unfortunately, the majority of neo-racism-related events against international students are not reported. I argue that this is because international students either don’t know whom to talk to, or they don’t believe reporting on discrimination incidents is actually worth the trouble. Lee argues that awareness and trust are lacking between international students and student affairs professionals.

There is an absence sense of urgency when it comes to empowering international students in higher education. It is in the heart of our job to go beyond advising and programming, we must to step up and take action to stop these moral and social crises. Consequently, I recommend three integrated solutions:

  • First, painting international students with the same social brush and one-size-fits-all strategy is something we have to be cognizant of. If we are to tailor our services to international students’ microcommunities, we must be mindful of how that will impact their college careers.
  • Second, Student Services should fully embrace their role of not only being the primary resource of international students’ co-curricular opportunities, but also be active promoters of the benefits of these opportunities throughout students’ college journey.
  • Last, international students’ programs shouldn’t be a stand-alone department or a center; rather, it should be a university-wide ecosystem, where faculty, staff, and students are actively engaged in cross-cultural communications initiatives that create a welcoming and responsive environment to the needs of the international students.

Since higher education is going through transformational change, I see our strategic role within this change is to embark upon a new path of boosting engagement and building collaborative communities so our students can flourish, thrive and succeed.

Where to start? Here are some related resources:

  1. Wall Street Journal – History of International Students in America
  2. Association of International Educators (NAFSA)
  3. The Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP)
  4. The Institute of International Education (IIE)
  5. National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE)
  6. Power Ties: The International Student’s Guide to Finding a Job in the United States
  7. International Student Experiences of Neo-Racism and Discrimination

iyad uakoub
Iyad Uakoub, M.S., B.Eng., Manager of Branding & Digital Communities/User Experience, BEAM, Stanford Career Education, Stanford University
Twitter: @iyadsy
LinkedIn:www.linkedin.com/in/iyadyacoub

Understanding Future Work Force Trends and Addressing Professional Development Opportunities

by Dorothy Hayden

Our field and the way that we do our jobs 10 years from now will be different from the way we do them today. Last November, I attended a talk by Phil Gardner on recruiting trends. During the talk, Gardner focused on some of the new challenges that employers and career services must address. He notes that employers are less likely to act in an uncertain environment.

Before entering into the information age, employers met potential employees during career fairs and this was likely their only point of contact. Today the search for talent is 24/7 with the advent of ATS, advanced analytics, and social media. For career services, we’ve gone from being the principal provider of information to connectors and consultants (Gardner, 2015). The disruption of innovation is one challenge, but another challenge we must anticipate is the staggering number of retirements that will take place in the next decade by Baby Boomers. Gardner cites a 2010 Pew Research Study saying that about 10,000 Baby Boomers a day will retire. It’s not clear how many Baby Boomers work in career services, but what is clear is that Generation X and Millennials will need to fill the gap in talent. In 2025, the percentage of those born after 1980 will make up around 75 percent of the work force according to Gardner (Gardner, 2015).

You may think that this number seems unreal, but Millennials recently (Quarter 1 of 2015) passed Generation X has the largest population in the workforce (Pew, 2015). With the generational shift, we will need to be adaptive and perceptive to changes in the way that we do our work.

As a millennial, I have been reading about this upcoming generational shift since I was in graduate school. However, I have been challenged to understand how I take the next step in my leadership development. Earlier this month I attended the NACE Management Leadership Institute (MLI) with 65 other career services professionals from around the country. This training challenged my thinking about how I view leadership and it also gave me a bit of a road map for how I can best continue to develop as a leader. Through the MLI, I learned more about the Five Practices for Exemplary Leadership Model developed by Kouzes and Posner in the early 1980s. With this particular leadership model, Posner and Kouzes discuss how we all are leaders but that there are five key leadership practices that exemplary leaders regularly practice in their work. The Five Exemplary Practices are:

  1. Model the way
  2. Inspire a shared vision
  3. Challenge the Process
  4. Enable Others to Act
  5. Encourage the Heart

During MLI, we received the results of a 360 evaluation on each of these areas. We were told during the training that the average age that an adult receives a formal leadership training is 42. Many larger for-profit organizations, are now adding formal leadership training in the first one- to three-years for their recent college hires. It’s highly unlikely that every office that hires new professionals will be able to provide a structured leadership training for their new professionals. I also know that not every institution has the resources to send their mid-level professionals to attend a formal training like MLI. What can we do? How can we help our profession’s new professionals gain competency and increase their capacities as leaders? I don’t believe that there is a simple solution. I also don’t believe that millennials are the only generation that needs to work on leadership development. We all can gain from improving one or more of the five exemplary leadership practices.

I would like to share some ideas (with minimal costs) that we can use to maximize our leadership potential.

  • Identify your personal mission, vision, and values. When we do assessment in our offices, we frequently go back to our office mission and vision statements. The practice of going through and identifying your career mission, vision, and values statements can help you to begin the process of identifying areas of success and growth.
  • Learn more about the Five Practices of Exemplary Leaders: YouTube has a number of videos by Kouzes and Posner on the Five Practices of Exemplary Leaders. I’ve listed a few of the videos that I have enjoyed below, but I would also encourage you to watch videos that focus on different leadership models, ideas, and styles.
  • Be a mentor/mentee. Seek out people who can teach and advise you in your areas of growth. The surprising thing to me about being a mentee is that there is also an opportunity to be a mentor. NACE offers a Mentor Program, but you can also find mentors within your region, state, or school.
  • Develop a professional development plan. A professional development plan can be as simple or complex as you need it to be. The professional development differs from something like the set of annual performance goals that you do, in that no one else but you is evaluating your success. Items you may want to include: Your current vision, mission, and values plus a set of short-term (one to three months) and long-term (six to 18 months) goals that you hope to accomplish. You can also include smaller goals and check points to keep you accountable.
  • Engage on social media. Do you tweet? Do you use LinkedIn? Do you blog? Encourage the new professionals around you to engage with other career services professionals through social media. One of the Exemplary Leadership Practices is, Inspire a Shared Vision. In order to inspire others, we need more people to contribute to the conversation about the present and future in our field.

I know that this is not a complete list. My goal is to share some information about the shift of generations, encourage you to think about your own leadership development, and consider ways to foster leadership potential within your own organization. Please share your ideas for professional development here and feel free to share your ideas on Twitter as well.

Dorothy HaydenDorothy Hayden, Assistant Director, Office of Career Services, Virginia Military Institute
Twitter: @dorothyhayden
LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/dorothyhayden

Sources:

Gardner, Phil. “Recruiting Trends 2015-16” Michigan State University: http://livestream.com/msualumni/2015Recruitingtrends/videos/104851985

Fry, Richard. “Millennials surpass Gen Xers as the largest generation in U.S. labor force” http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2015/05/11/millennials-surpass-gen-xers-as-the-largest-generation-in-u-s-labor-force/ April 2015.

Dorothy HaydenDorothy Hayden, Assistant Director, Office of Career Services, Virginia Military Institute
Twitter: @dorothyhayden
LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/dorothyhayden

 

 

Career Research: How to Measure Career Success

by Desalina Guarise and James W. Kostenblatt

This is the first of several blog posts that will explore career-related research and feature interviews with those researchers. Let us know if you have individuals you would like to see featured.

As recipients of a NACE Research Grant, we will be kicking off a study this fall to explore the long-term impact unpaid internships have on career success (30 institutions are participating and we are looking for more partners to join; contact us if interested!) As a part of this project, we began exploring how to define  and measure career success—a complicated and somewhat nebulous concept. Luckily, we came across a research study recently published in the Journal of Organizational Behavior, “Development of a New Scale to Measure Subjective Career Success: A Mixed-Methods Study” 37.1 (2015): 128-53, where Dr. Kristen Shockley and her colleagues did the heavy lifting for us. We will be using both objective measure of success (i.e. salary) and the subjective measures Dr. Shockley developed in our study.

In an interview, Dr. Shockley shared details about her research and the release of the “Subjective Career Success Inventory”—a 24-item questionnaire and validated measure of career success that resulted from the study.

Tell us about your professional background. How did you come to focus on career-related research?
I did my undergraduate degree at the University of Georgia and my Ph.D. in Industrial organizational psychology from the University of South Florida. From beginning of my doctoral program I was interested in how people manage work and family and how to have a fulfilling work life and personal life at the same time.

In the article, you mention that measures of career success have evolved over time, shifting from objective measures to subjective measures. Tell us more about this evolution.
Years ago, you started at one company, paid your dues, and retired from that company. Now people have something like seven jobs over the course of their career.  With this shift people’s values have also changed. When we interviewed people for the study, they spoke about how important it is to having a meaningful personal life outside of their career as well as clear work/life boundaries. They also want to feel like their work is meaningful. When we looked at the existing career research, they used to measure career success very objectively—you are successful if you make a lot of money. The previous subjective measures were just about satisfaction. That’s where this career success model—the subjective model—came from; it takes into account these newer values. 

Tell us about your development of the Subjective Career Success Inventory?
We began by conducting interviews and focus groups with people from all different types of careers. We then transcribed all of the interviews, coded them, and came up with themes. Finally we focused on testing the scale for validity and reliability. The research took seven years from start to finish and we ended up with a 24-item questionnaire broken out into eight dimensions or categories that were important to these professionals when assessing their own career success: recognition, quality work, meaningful work, influence, authenticity, personal life, growth and development, and satisfaction.  

What implications do you think this has for practitioners like ourselves in career services?
Practitioners already know that it’s a daunting task for students to pick a field to go into. It’s important to have some sense of what you value and how likely it is that those values will map onto careers you are considering. This research further supports the importance of students reflecting on their values and thinking beyond objective measures of career success when decision-making. 

What are you working on now with your research?
Right now I’m trying to establish an inventory for the family-friendliness of different career paths using data from O*Net.  Hopefully this will help students and professionals make decisions about which career path may be right for them.

If you’d like to participate in research exploring the long-term impact unpaid internships have on career success , contact Alina Guarise or James Kostenblatt.

Alina GuariseDesalina (Alina) Guarise, Associate Director of Career Advancement Center at Lake Forest College
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/desalina

 

 

 

James W. Kostenblatt

James, W. Kostenblatt, Associate Director, New York University’s Wasserman Center for Career Development
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/jameskostenblatt

Career Services Programs that Engage Employers

Irene Hillman

Irene Hillman, Manager of Career Development, College of Business, Decosimo Success Center, The University of Tennessee Chattanooga
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/irenehillman

College career fairs can feel like a blur. Hundreds of college students—many of them prepared, but just as many of them unprepared— shuffle in and wander from table to table giving employers their pitch. Employers return the favor and point these young professionals to their websites to apply for positions. It’s a way to build visibility on both sides—company and candidate—but creating a meaningful connection simply isn’t in the cards.

So, how can colleges support the authentic engagement needed for their students to build relationships that will help them launch careers and their employers to gain in-depth access to a targeted and valuable candidate group? Here are some methods being used by the College of Business at University of Tennessee at Chattanooga to provide some inspiration.

Take the Freshmen Employer Tour

The Company Tour Program was developed specifically for entering freshmen to help tie them into both the UTC and business community very early on in their college careers. The college develops a schedule of bi-weekly tours for approximately 20 students (lasting one to two hours) into the facilities of the area’s top employers and these students gain access to companies to learn more about the area’s economy, explore potential employers, and network with Chattanooga’s business community in a very familiar and engaging fashion. This encourages students to think about how their degrees can be leveraged and their academic learning can be applied following graduation, motivating them to be better students who are engaged in networking within professional circles of the city.

Invite Employers to Lunch

Through Bridge Luncheons, the College of Business invites businesses seeking a way in which to connect with current students, pending graduates, or alumni to sponsor a business meal. This series brings business students and local or regional organizations together in an intimate setting over a served lunch where candid and interactive dialogue can occur. Typically this is used by companies as a recruiting venue for open positions. Such events are an effective means for companies to spend quality time with multiple candidates at once and serves, in many cases, as a first and simple step in the vetting process. Bridge Luncheons are by invitation only based on the criteria set by the sponsoring companies and students receive e-mails requesting an RSVP if they care to attend. It is also an ideal place to practice business meal etiquette.

Jennifer Johnson, UTC accounting student (Class of 2015), says “The luncheons have given me an opportunity to connect with local businesses and to build relationships with their owners and employees before joining the work force.”

She adds, “I am very thankful that UTC has provided me with the opportunity to participate in these luncheons because they have helped ease my apprehension interacting with potential employers and colleagues.”

As an additional perk beyond assisting students transition from students to professionals, colleges can consider such luncheons as a minor revenue stream since a reasonable flat rate can be charged to companies and remaining funds (after catering and room costs are covered) would be retained to support other career services activities and events.

Pair Students With Professionals

The Business Mentor Program is available to sophomore, junior, senior, and graduate students. Experienced professionals support students who are paired in a mentoring relationship based on common professional interests in order to guide students toward best practices for career success. Valued employers are encouraged to nominate a seasoned professional to the Business Mentor Program. The program provides a great opportunity for professionals to counsel and influence the next generation of business leaders and increase the work force readiness of future recruits. Undergraduates may even engage in the program for academic credit (one credit). The course integrates academic learning with business world application and experiences. Students meet in class for one month to prepare for the mentoring relationship and then pair with mentors for the remaining weeks of the semester.

Use Feedback From the Professionals

The semiannual Resume Week and Mock Interview Week events are another way to help recruiters and students engage in effective networking and develop significant dialogue. During Resume Week, the college seeks out a few dozen professionals (hiring managers or recruiters) whose careers align with the College of Business academic programs and invites them to participate in the event. Students visit the centrally located student lounge with their resumes to give managers and recruiters from participating companies a chance provide their professional opinions through a 15-minute resume review while networking one-on-one with these high-impact business people.

Bios of the volunteers are provided to students so they can plan who they want to meet. We encourage students to dress professionally and bring a business card to make a great first impression on our visitors.

Abdul Hanan Sheikh, UTC human resource management student (Class of 2015),  summarizes the impact that the Resume Review event has had on his career launch: “By attending this event, I received remarkable feedback, which helped me make adjustments to my resume. This event helped me get more engaged in networking effectively. It was a great opportunity for me to make connections with business professionals from around Chattanooga. Furthermore, I believe these events helped me land my first internship last fall and then my summer internship as well, and those positions gave me the experience I needed in HR to feel confident about finding a great job after graduation. So now I have a strong resume and solid experience.”

A month following Resume Week, the college holds a similarly arranged series of events for Mock Interview Week. Not only do students walk away with invaluable advice on developing a robust resume and interviewing successfully, but they get a chance to ask questions about launching their careers to people with realistic answers. And the hope is, as a result, a connection is made and networking flourishes between the student and the professionals with whom they have met.

Engaging with employers need not be an awkward or hurried venture that happens once a semester. When students are provided multiple opportunities for directed networking, relationships can unfold in an enriching manner for our students and our employers!

 

 

The Differences Between Working in Higher Education and Corporate America

kelly d. scottKelly Scott, Campus Recruiter at Liberty Mutual Insurance
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/kellykonevichscott

I never thought I would do anything other than work in higher education. With a background in educational counseling psychology and a job as a career counselor and assistant director within a career center at a Boston-area university, I had no need to look for a life outside the ivy-covered walls. But then an intriguing opportunity presented itself and I made the leap to corporate America. And I now find myself as a de facto spokesperson for corporate America among my higher education friends and colleagues. The information that most piques their interest is: “What are the differences between working there and here?” And I always tell them, while there are differences, the two worlds aren’t as far apart as you might think.

It’s a different kind of fast paced.

I thought there was only one kind of fast paced, but I was wrong. As an assistant director at a career center, I had a lot to do. There were student appointments, large- and small-scale events to plan and facilitate, workshops, class presentations, semester planning, and ad hoc projects. As a recruiter, it is also fast paced with numerous projects to complete, yearly planning, interviews, and regular meetings with various stakeholders across the organization.

So, what’s the difference then? The difference are the deadlines. I can’t speak for all universities because I’m drawing from personal experience, but overall, I had a lot of autonomy when it came to deadlines. “When do you think you could have that done?” was a question I was frequently fielding as a career counselor. Additionally, it was acceptable to spend a semester or two hammering out a new program or idea and generally the only people you were answering to were those in your department and the students.

Deadlines in corporate America are much less fluid. Many of the decisions and projects that I’m working on directly affect a team in a completely different department or business unit. As a result, deadlines are determined by a group and driven by quarterly business needs and recruiting cycle timelines. This creates a different sense of urgency than what I experienced in the higher education sector. Not better or worse, just different.

The private sector is more formal.

This shouldn’t be a shocker: it’s more formal. Working with college students makes for a much more casual environment than working with business leaders in a Fortune 100 company. The casual nature lends itself to forming deep personal connections with co-workers and, in my opinion, is one of its most appealing attributes of working in at a college or university. It wasn’t uncommon to share personal successes and even heartaches and frustrations with your direct co-workers or even your supervisor. Mind you, you’ve got a bunch of counselors sharing feelings, so it’s probably not that unusual, but when you’re in the mix of it, you don’t realize what was going on until you leave.

There’s not so much sharing in the corporate world. While there is a huge emphasis on respect, integrity and development—and my colleagues are incredibly supportive and caring—the mushy-gushy feeling of my last department is gone. I have a few co-workers that I am thankful to have developed very close friendships with over the last year, but corporate culture doesn’t support oversharing the way education does. Again, neither one is better or worse than the other, but there are recognizable differences.

People move around a lot more in corporate.

My personal experience in higher education is that a lot of people stay put or climb the ladder within their particular function or department. My former boss had been at the university for more than 15 years—almost entirely as a career counselor with notable promotions within her department. Her boss was there just as long and on the same path. Many of my co-workers were self-proclaimed “lifers” and stayed within the academic counseling field in some capacity. You get to know your co-workers really well and they have in-depth knowledge about the organization and the department history.

Corporate works a little differently. Since I started a year ago, multiple people have moved to completely different business units and taken on very different roles. My company puts an emphasis on professional development and growth, so it isn’t surprising that there is a lot of movement. In fact, people are encouraged to explore new opportunities that will challenge their professional growth within the organization. The drawback is that people move around a lot and it seems as though as soon as I think I am getting to know somebody, they get promoted or move on to another part of the organization. Definitely all great things, but it is a stark contrast to what I saw working in higher education.

Both the corporate and higher education cultures have their pros and cons and I think it really all comes down to what you value in work and in your career. There are certainly things I miss about higher education (holiday break) and other things I certainly do not miss (freshman orientation). That said, work values and skills change and develop as we grow professionally. Who knows what the next 10 years will bring, but for those of you wondering, corporate is not as scary as you think and has almost as much free food as you get in higher education.