EAB’s Jeff Schiffman is joined by enrollment consultant Errol Wint and Lindsey Hoyt from Reed College to talk about their respective career journeys in higher education. The three share advice on networking, on how to earn that coveted promotion, and on how to showcase your skills in ways that will resonate with prospective employers.
They also urge listeners to trust your gut and take that leap of faith when the right career opportunity presents itself.
0:00:15.1 Speaker 1: Hello and welcome to Office Hours with EAB. Today, three industry veterans share their thoughts on how to chart your own career journey working in higher education. Give these folks a listen and enjoy.
0:00:29.1 Jeff Schiffman: Well hello everyone and welcome to Office Hours with EAB. My name is Jeff Schiffman and I’ve actually been here at EAB for just about five months. I had spent 15 years working in higher education prior to arriving here at EAB. Kind of one of those started as a tour guide and worked my way all the way up to the director of admission at my alma mater Tulane University and now I’m here at EAB. This certainly does not mean I’m an expert in the world of advancing your career in higher ed but I’ve certainly had some experiences with it in the past and I’m very excited to chat about it with two excellent colleagues today. I am joined by two incredible people that have both had some interesting experiences in the world of navigating the application process to different jobs in the higher education space. First up is Errol Wint who most recently served as the director of admission at Indiana University Purdue University campus aka IUPUI before launching into his own enrollment strategy consulting business.
0:01:35.8 JS: Welcome to the program Errol. You want to maybe introduce yourself and give us the very quick overview of where you’ve been and where you are now?
0:01:43.5 Errol Wint: Absolutely Jeff and thank you for having me on the podcast. I’m really excited to be here to brief this topic. So my experience, I’ve been in the work for about 15 years particularly in admissions work have had a diverse array of universities working at IUPUI, Indiana University Purdue University in Minneapolis as you mentioned, the University of Louisville as well as the University of Michigan. I was the director of admissions at IUPUI and then stepped into a project role where I was the principal consultant for enrollment planning to really take a really exciting opportunity of reversing reimagining enrollment at the university. And as you mentioned, I’m excited to be launching and building my consulting business to take the framework developed over the last year to the nation for all universities that are interested. So happy to be here.
0:02:36.1 JS: Love it. I’m glad you’re here. I’m also joined by a colleague of mine or former colleague and a dear friend of mine, Lindsey Hoyt. Lindsey, I think you and I have known each other probably 15 years by now.
0:02:47.0 JS: Can you share with our audience where you are now and what kind of brought you to the point in time?
0:02:52.2 Lindsey Hoyt: Yeah. Thanks for having me. I’m excited to be here as well. So I am currently the director of admissions at Reed College. I worked at also Brandeis University and then Jeff and I worked together at Tulane current American athletic championships. Roll away. And then before that I was in the world of marketing. So I kind of made a big career switch kind of late in my 20s, but with a lot of applicable skills from that marketing world into higher education admission.
0:03:24.2 JS: Phenomenal. Well, I’m so glad you’re both here. It sounds like you come from different backgrounds and you’ll be able to add a lot to this conversation. And so let’s start with you, Errol. I think a lot of times three of us know this, but there’s a lot of misconceptions about the world of working in higher ed. Some people think it’s an easy place to work or it’s just always a joyous place since the first day you started here. Maybe talk to me about some of the misconceptions about working in higher ed.
0:03:49.3 EW: Sure. So one of the things I’ll say, both Lindsay and I being middle level managers working in higher education through a pandemic, I think we can both agree that it was certainly a ride and we learned some things about the industry.
0:04:03.8 EW: One of the things that I think is most prevalent is that higher education is the misconception that higher education is insular to market insolences. We go back to the great recession in 2009 when you had an increase in terms of attendees in higher education. And we saw this proliferation of individuals that were looking to reimagine themselves. And we benefited as professionals in terms of that. Well, the pandemic has brought something unlike anything that we’ve ever seen. And with that has brought a need to think about higher education within the community of the labor market. EAB has done a fantastic white paper around the volatility of the admissions office, or rather the admissions office within a volatile labor market that addresses a lot of these things in a very robust way.
0:04:58.7 EW: So I think between that and then also that higher education is just this haven for employment stability. We have seen a great resignation impact within our admissions offices. We’ve seen transitions from higher ed to different industries. And we’ve seen people that are coming from external industries to engage us. And so I think the ability to approach the career development imperatives with the knowledge that you got to think about it in a large scale within the 80,000 feet in the air perspective and figure out where you want to place yourself in order to advance within not only higher education, but also the role of higher education in influencing the broader country that we are currently not we are in so.
0:05:43.9 JS: Thanks, and I love that. Yeah, when I first got to EAB, the first thing I did was read that white paper you mentioned. I was like, whoa, this is exceptionally accurate seeing as I also just left the university side to the consulting side as well. So Lindsey, maybe another misconception. And I think personally, for me, I always thought, all right, I went to Tulane, I worked at Tulane my whole career, I couldn’t possibly work anywhere else. Or the only other place I could work would be maybe as a high school counselor, which is a great opportunity. But maybe that misconception that there’s only one path you can take, maybe talk to talk us through what are the options? What are the maybe the misconception, you can only go one direction where there are plenty of options you can take with this.
0:06:25.5 LH: Yeah, I love that question. Because this is something that I talk to every single, you know, new counselor, young counselor who works for me about which is that, you know, especially when you’re that right out of college, you know, maybe working at your alma mater, this is your first job, this is the first thing you’ve ever done. And so what I always tell folks is that, you know, even if you only stay in this role for three years or so, you
0:06:51.8 LH: Know, you will learn so many applicable skills to all kinds of different industries, and you’ll be exposed to all kinds of related industries through our work here. So with different companies that do marketing for higher education, consulting for higher education, data analytics, all kinds of technology and software, I mean, all of these different things you will gain skills in and you’ll gain connections with people who work in those different related industries. And so I think there’s so many different paths that you can take. And I also think, you know, in terms of moving from one institution to another, which is something that I’ve done a couple of times now, you know, it could definitely be scary, you’re learning a new place.
0:07:36.4 LH: But you bring a lot of knowledge with you, when you come into a new admissions office, or you know, any kind of higher education staffing, because, you know, we all do the same thing, but differently. We all approach things slightly differently. So having those experiences where you can say, well, this is, you know, what I’ve done in the past, here’s the pros and cons of it here, you know, have we thought about it this way, can be really, really valuable, especially if you are stepping into an office that has a lot of folks who have been in that same place for a long time, they’ve been doing the same thing for the same, you know, in the same way, maybe in really successful ways as well. But sometimes you just need a little bit of outside perspective to help you think outside the box and be a little bit more creative there, too.
0:08:26.9 JS: Totally. I think you can brand yourself as having a fresh perspective, you know.
0:08:30.1 EW: And Jeff, I just wanted to add something to that. I think, I think Lindsey just made a fantastic point there at the end about having that external perspective, you know, that at IUPUI, we knew we wanted to reimagine our campus visit program and intentionally went out and got somebody from the hospitality industry. And she came in immediately and made some really unique customer service changes and adjustments because of her experience, particularly within the pandemic context around how you navigate through ensuring that there is the safest, the best and the most, you know, holistic experience. And she also came from Disney as well. So that was also a lot of positive. Everybody loves Disney. So.
0:09:16.6 JS: I love that. You know, if you look on job boards, everyone’s hiring for event planners now that events are big in person again. And if you’re planning events at a large university, you’re very well prepared to handle some of those events. And one last thing I wanted to add, I think Lindsay had a great point about, you know, there’s so many different tangential ways you can work in this profession. I used to walk into the big vendor hall at NACAC and be very intimidated by all the different folks that were there.
0:09:41.1 JS: But if you reframe that and think of that as potential employers, you know, if you’re the Slate guru on campus, why not check out of Slate hiring? You know, if you love social media, there’s so many great social media companies or if you’re really into, you know, Salesforce, Salesforce is always hiring. So that vendor hall can actually be a potential employer. So maybe think about that next time you’re at a NACAC. Lindsay, so it’s New Year’s. We’ve got New Year’s resolutions on the docket. Obviously some people are starting to rethink their career path in this new year. And one of the hardest things about career choices is the very beginning. How do you start this process? You know, how do you build a reputation on campus? How do you start to create those connections? What are some questions you should be asking yourself? Essentially, how do you start this process? Any suggestions for that?
0:10:31.4 LH: Yeah, I think what’s so important is to really do a lot of kind of self reflection before you start the process of looking for a new role. And really thinking about where your kind of boundaries are, what you’re willing to do and not willing to do. For instance, you know, are you willing to move across the country for a job that you’re excited about or not? Are you willing to move across the state? Are you willing to take a pay cut if it’s something that you are just really excited about and you think has a lot of growth potential? What are you looking for? And not just in a, well, I want to raise, I want a higher title. And those can certainly be things that you are looking for. But thinking about really before you start putting out those feelers, before you start applying to things, are they actually things that you want? And really thinking about what, where you see yourself and how you’re going to get there and do a lot of self reflection before you start this process of looking for other positions.
0:11:36.4 JS: Totally. And New Year is a perfect time to start that self reflection process. Errol, any other tips for just how to begin this whole search process?
0:11:45.8 EW: Yeah. And I want to speak to the aspect of creating a good reputation on campus. And I love reading books and one of my favorites is Essentialism by Greg McCowan. And I think in a time where the needs of campus and really trying to establish oneself in terms of creating a good reputation, one of the quotes that stood out was the quote about approaching your work as if you were a consultant. So what does that mean? You know, in terms of developing a good reputation, asking good questions, okay, making recommendations, you know, so that the ability to, you know, kind of push yourself to think about things in new ways, but do so as in a collaborative leadership standpoint can move forward. And you know, just giving credit, you know, when good ideas are out there. I think I’m speaking to this angle of it for those who are still in their position and are looking to kind of reimagine and repurpose what they’re doing and want to continue to build, you know, good rapport with their colleagues across campus.
0:12:54.8 EW: I’d also say that, you know.
0:12:57.3 EW: Get good at capturing your experience from now. Okay, so a lot has happened across the last four years and amidst the great resignation came lots of new opportunities to take on new responsibilities, new roles. And we as admissions directors had to ask some of our teams to say, hey, I know you do this, but we need you to do these three or four additional things. Make sure you capture them and I’m a huge, I know we’re going to talk about LinkedIn a little bit later, but on that online platform, make sure you’re telling your story. Ask your colleagues and your superiors for references. LinkedIn also has a really great reference portal for you to be able to capture narratives around the work that you’ve done across your time. So building that, you know, I think is a great way of establishing a good reputation and preparing yourself for that job search.
0:13:57.1 JS: And I’m glad you both recommended some specific things. And I heard you recommended a book and I have a book as well. It’s called Designing Your Life. And it was recommended to me by Angel Perez, the CEO of NACAC when I started my job search process and it kind of combines some of the things you all have both said.
0:14:13.3 JS: It allows you to kind of design the things you’re passionate about, you’re good at, and how do you match that up with a potential employer? So that’s definitely one I highly recommend. But that does bring us into our next question, Errol. I mean, any specific tips for, you know, apps or websites or organizations or online resources that you’ve used that you think could be really helpful in this process?
0:14:34.8 EW: Yeah. So this is my time to herald the value of LinkedIn. I am a huge proponent of LinkedIn. So I started my career in higher education at the University of Michigan in the Career Development Center. And there was a real push, you know, for leveraging resources, you know, in the form of really shaping one’s presentation, shaping, developing one’s community, and then telling one story. It’s called I-Plan. I want to give the wonderful colleagues in that center credit. But LinkedIn, I think understanding how the degree of separation component of LinkedIn works is very great, very huge, I think. And that’s knowing that from your connection circle that you can look at somebody’s name and be able to say that they’re a second degree or third degree connection and get access to them to have an exploratory discussion.
0:15:32.7 EW: I think professional associations, whether that’s on LinkedIn in terms of groups or affiliates, like you mentioned, Angel Perez, I’m also a member of NACAC, and they do a really good job of their presence on LinkedIn. But getting involved, you know, not in the virtual spaces is really key as well. I want to mention also informational interviews. I am a huge fan of informational interviews. As someone that likes one on one conversations more than the big, you know, the big room where you got to go in and, you know, rub elbows and smile and kiss babies, if you will. But the informational interview, I treat it as a 20 minute conversation, three core questions where I hold space for the person that I’m engaging to reflect. And in return, I have the opportunity to learn in my active listening stance and establish an authentic relationship. And then the last piece, I would say, is, you know, mentioned LinkedIn, mentioned informational interviews, service, servicing your professional association. So you know, for example, with me, I was a College Board delegate, I, you know, worked with, you know, our National Association for large public directors of admissions. I did a program review for my university as well, you know, with our adult learning center.
0:16:58.6 EW: So service allows you to meet new people, to showcase your talents and build from there on the professional side, but then also community based service as well. You know, so I’ve more examples, I was a board member, you know, for a local nonprofit. I worked with our Urban League and had the opportunity to even be an advisor for a student organization to have that student engagement connection. So all things considered, this is a great way to really allow yourself to learn about yourself, expand your community, you know, know your story, and also shape your presentation.
0:17:35.7 JS: I love that. And the idea of volunteering with local community based organizations in your own backyard where you can make an impact. And the only thing I’ll add to LinkedIn is I think sometimes we’re a little shy to post our accomplishments, but that really is what LinkedIn is for. It’s a running tally of all the accomplishments. So if you’ve had your campus’s largest visit day in history, that goes on your LinkedIn. If you, you know, all these little things that go along with the process of your leadership, you know, brag about it. So Lindsey, what if you’re not necessarily a social butterfly and the idea of networking or walking into that big room or the one-on-one conversations is a little intimidating.
0:18:12.0 JS: Any tips for that?
0:18:13.4 LH: Yeah, absolutely. I’m glad I’m here on this podcast with you, Jeff and Errol, who are clearly naturals at this kind of thing and like doing it. It terrifies me. So I can give kind of the flip side of some of this advice, although some of it I think is just kind of framing the same things that Errol was talking about in a little bit of a different mindset for someone who maybe is intimidated or, you know, is anxious about things like this. So I think the first thing that I’ll say is actually one, something that you said to me Jeff, recently, which was, you’re like, well, you’re really good at keeping in touch with people. And you know, I hadn’t even thought about that as a way that I was keeping a network or building a network, but I think it’s so true that, you know, to keep in touch, even in a very casual way with people that you’ve worked with before allows you to maintain that relationship in a way where you will feel confident to say, you know, even if you text with them once a year or something to say, “Hey, I’m applying to this job.”
0:19:19.0 LH: “Any thoughts, we’d be a reference,” you know, whatever that, that thing is. And you are building that network through just a very, you know, casual maintenance of a friendship or a relationship.
0:19:29.5 LH: I also think that, you know, what Errol was saying about being a part of kind of service based work, especially within your industry. So being a part of a committee or something like that for NACAC, I think is a really good way to meet people, but in a way where you’re letting your work speak for itself and you don’t have to, you know, it’s not your, it’s not social as much. But you are able to just do what you do well and let other people see that and, and kind of do the work for you there. Which I think it can be really, really helpful if you do have, if you walk into the vendor floor of NACAC and are immediately overwhelmed like I am. So I, you know, I think all of those things are just really important. But then the other thing that I’ve been thinking about a lot, but I’ve also been seeing a lot of kind of talk about on TikTok recently, which is this concept of, you know, if something, if a task scares you or if you’re anxious about it or you really don’t want to do it, it’s not so much that you need to change your mindset.
0:20:37.0 LH: So this isn’t scary and therefore I can do it, but to just do it scared, to just do it scared, do it nervous, do it uncomfortable. And I think that really helps me to think about these things. If I need to kind of reach out to somebody for a one-on-one, for an informational interview and things like that, I’m not going to enjoy writing that email. I’m going to be nervous the whole time and I’m going to send it off and then be so anxious that I’m annoying that person. But I’m going to do it anyway because I believe that it’s going to be beneficial. And I also have a lot of faith in people too, that they’re not going to be annoyed. They’re going to be fine. You know, they’re going to be happy to hear from you. They’re going to be happy to help you. If you have any sort of connection, you know, you’re, they’re an alum of your university, you worked with them many years ago, whatever that connection is, they are largely going to be excited to help you. So it may feel, you know, anxiety inducing on your end, but you’re, it’s, it’s going to be fine.
0:21:40.1 LH: So just do it scared.
0:21:42.6 JS: I love that, Lindsey. I have literally nothing to add because that is truly, I hadn’t even thought about that before, but that’s phenomenal. All right. Let’s fast forward a little bit as we’re getting towards the end of this. Say you got this job, things are awesome. You’re super excited. Talk to me a little bit about first day of work or first month of work or, you know, how to make a, how to make a good impression, you know, I know you want to make a good impression because you worked so hard to get to that point, but you know, Errol, any pieces of advice you would offer someone when they’re starting a new job that maybe pieces of advice that wouldn’t seem so obvious?
0:22:15.9 EW: Yeah. So I want to cite two principles from the book, The First 90 Days by Michael D Watkins. Very good book. So one of them is match your strategy to the situation. So it talks about a clear diagnosis of the situation being an essential part of really shaping how you enter the beginning of that position. And I think now more than ever, that is critically important as we’re seeing just ongoing and consistent changes in our industry.
0:22:52.0 EW: And knowing what the culture of the university is like, knowing what the market, how the market is responding in terms of how this generation Z population and also these, these adult students that we’re recruiting are, are shifting their mindsets in an ongoing basis. There has to be a learning and an absorption of information, an analysis, and then a positionality of where you’re going to assert your best attention and your best resource, which is your, you know, your skills, your interest and everything that you’re bringing into the role. And so I think that match, that match journey has to be approached with patience. It has to be approached with discipline because you may be coming into a situation where it’s about right now, we need you to get rolling. We need you to do these activities and we need you to, you know, to hit the ground running. And it has to be done collaboratively, both vertically and horizontally. The other piece is accelerating everyone. That was the other principle that stood out to me. And it talked about systematically accelerating your team and the benefit of that to your organization. And I think when you hear acceleration that could be at one hand could be received with, well, wait a second.
0:24:10.4 EW: I’m new. I’m not trying to push the apple cart and move people beyond their comfort zones too, you know, too quickly. But that’s why I started with the matching strategies of the situation. Once you get the strategy down and you commit to your 90 day plan and you’re working to really speak to the needs of the organization, but then also define new opportunities within the boundaries of those needs, then the entire organization is moving with you. There’s a grace period of sorts that we all know about. When you start a new job. So how do you optimize that so that you can position yourself to be the greatest contributor to your organization as possible?
0:24:49.6 JS: I think that’s a great point. And it goes back to what you were saying about, you know, when you’re, you’re hiring someone from a different industry or a different school, like, you know, you’re coming in with new ideas, like that’s the expectation. And there is that grace period too. And I love that book, The First 90 Days. And also there’s a great kind of LinkedIn learning that breaks it down as well. If you’re more of a podcast kind of person, Lindsey, I know you’ve had a, you’ve been at Reed for just a couple months now.
0:25:17.2 JS: Any tips for starting in a new role, particularly in a leadership position?
0:25:22.0 LH: Yeah. I mean, I think as we’ve been talking about, you know, coming into a new role, you’re there for a reason, you know, you were chosen and hired for a reason. So I think it’s important to come in with confidence and humility at the same time. So you are bringing valuable knowledge and experience at other places to this new place. But you know, it’s also really important that you don’t come in and say, well, this is what we should be doing. This is how, how, you know, this is better or even the opposite. Well, we used to do it this other way at my old institution and it was terrible. You know, you don’t want to be coming in and kind of.
0:26:00.8 LH: Just, you want to learn, you want to listen, you want to learn, but you want to have the confidence to know that you’re there for a reason and they want your experiences. They want your questions, they want your knowledge. And it’s just about kind of making that balance of listening and learning, understanding why things are done a certain way, and then being able to apply the knowledge that you were brought in for in a way that still feels respectful and that you are valuing the tradition at that institution.
0:26:31.0 LH: So I think, you know, it can be a little bit of a tricky balance. I’ve certainly messed up and kind of saying things about, well, why do we do it this way? We should do it this way instead. And that’s not a great way to approach it because there are a lot of people who have put a lot of thought into the way that it’s being done. And so, but I think it is important to remember that you’re there for a reason and you have things to contribute. And so you should feel confident in being able to do so.
0:26:57.2 JS: Fabulous. All right, y’all, we’re just about out of time. I got one final question for both of y’all. Say you are at that NACAC and you’ve just attended a session, you’re hopping on the elevator and you run into one of those younger admission folks or one of those rising stars or maybe someone later in their career that’s thinking about making a career shift. Final piece of advice, little nuggets that they can take away with them that may be just simple stuff that might be beneficial as they navigate this process. Errol, you want to start?
0:27:28.3 EW: Sure. My two pieces of advice. Number one, I would be all over that person because my mentors have talked to me about the importance of mentoring and the value that that has not only to the mentee, but also to you as the individual that’s considering that next move. You’d be surprised at things that come out of your mouth when you’re talking to a mentee and you’re like, you know what, I need to follow that advice that lives inside of me. And that sounded so good. Let me go back and now apply that to my own career development, my own job search. So service, mentorship, you know, lean into it and give in that regard. The second piece of advice that I would give the person would be a citation of one of my favorite decision making rules when it comes to data and it’s Colin Powell’s 40-70 rule. So Colin Powell’s 40-70 rule states that you should have no less than 40% of the information you need and no more than 70% of the information that you need in order to make a decision. This last year when I took on the principal consultant role at IUPUI, the project of doing a massive turnaround of our enrollment trajectory, that was the principle that we led with because we had three months to turn things around in terms of the enrollment outcome.
0:28:50.5 EW: And we couldn’t be limited by analysis paralysis. And in the end, we ended up seeing an increase in enrollment for the beginner population that we were focused on. I take that macro level example and I would apply that to that mentee and say, you got to make a decision. You know, at some point you’re going to be at a place where you have, you know, that 40 to 70% and it’s not going to be perfect, right? But you also don’t want to be premature because if you’re, if you have less than 40, you’re going to be shooting from the hip and could potentially make some mistakes. And if you have, you’re seeking for more than 70, you’re going to miss an opportunity. Make the call, you know, trust as Lindsay mentioned that you’re there, you know, that you have the talents, you have the skills, you have everything that you need in order to move forward in the direction of your dreams and endeavors to have a lead a life that you’ve only imagined. So that’s what I would lead with.
0:29:42.6 JS: I love that. I know this is a podcast, but I’m smiling really big right now because I think that’s, that’s some great advice.
0:29:47.9 JS: And I think one thing you said is so important too, for folks like us, for people that are mentors, I always say, always say yes. You know, when that young admission rep reaches out to you and asks for coffee or when the former colleague who’s staying in touch wants to just have a quick combo, if you are a mentor, always say yes. You never know to Lindsay’s point, how much nervousness and anxiety it took them to just send that text to you. And you can really take a lot of anxiety off by just saying yes. You know, my very first mentor, Ian Watt, who was my mentor when I was a tour guide in college is now my manager and is now my boss here at the AB. And that’s because, you know, he always said yes to me and I’ll never forget that. So I think that’s a really good piece of advice. Lindsey, any final tips from you?
0:30:31.8 LH: Yeah. I mean, I think I have basically the same thing that Errol said a lot better than I’m going to, but this is, you know, making a change is a leap of faith and it’s always going to be, and you’re always going to be surprised by what you get yourself into in some good ways and some bad ways. And that’s, you know, 40-70, I think is a really good way to, to think about it, that you cannot make a perfect decision to, to, you know, make a change. You are always going to be taking a bit of a leap of faith. And that can be, you know, some of the most exciting times of your life is making that leap of faith, you know, professionally and otherwise, right. So I think that is, that’s an important thing to remember is that there’s just no way to prepare enough to make the perfect decision. You can certainly under prepare as well. But in some ways you’ve just got to know yourself, know the place that you are intending to go and, you know, make that leap and it’ll work out.
0:31:40.2 JS: I love that. Well, for everyone out there listening, who is starting this new year, thinking about making that leap of faith, you know, I hope that you got some good nuggets out of this. And for everyone that’s got that new year’s resolution to start making some career decisions, I wish you the best of luck. Errol, Lindsey, you all have been phenomenal guests. I can’t thank you enough for your time and for all of our listeners out there. Happy new year and best of luck. Thanks a lot, y’all.
0:32:06.6 LH: Thanks Jeff.
0:32:08.2 EW: Thanks Jeff. Thanks everybody.
0:32:15.0 S1: Thank you for listening. Please join us next week when our experts discuss better ways to engage, enroll and support students who are veterans or active duty military. Until then, thank you for your time.