5 Things to Consider When Preparing for a Career in Higher Education

Career in Higher EducationBy Judith Cardenas, PhD, School of Education

A career in higher education is more than a job; it is a life filled with passion and professional satisfaction. For many of us, we have known that teaching was part of our DNA, deep within the fabric of our being. For others, it is the desire and calling to be part of an institution that changes lives every day. This calling may happen later in life or as part of a career transition experience.

Regardless of your career journey, entering the world of higher education is no easy task and the process can be quite taunting. Creating a proactive plan of action is essential to success. Let's discuss 5 actions oriented strategies that can help prepare you for a successful entrance into a career in higher education.  

  • Tip 1:  Understand Job Requirements: Study job requirements by frequently visiting websites such as www.higheredjobs.com or www.insidehighered.com. These sites provide a plethora of job postings from across the nation. You can quickly find job opportunities that appeal most to you and align well with your career aspirations. It is never too early to search for your ideal job. Carefully read the job requirements and make sure your résumé and cover letter are in sync with such elements. Studying job postings not only give you insights to what colleges are looking for but also allows you to study hiring patterns, new and emerging trends, and changes in the job landscape.
  • Tip 2: Gain Relevant Experience: Colleges and universities oftentimes look for candidates with a good mix of professional experience inside and outside higher education. One way to gain valuable experience in this area is to work with adults. This experience can be as a tutor, mentor, coach, or advisor.  Learners experience powerful learning inside and outside the traditional classroom. Be open to working for an institution on a part time basis or even seasonal, as colleges may hire support staff during busy times such as registration and graduation. Volunteering is also a great way to gain experience. A few hours per month can afford you the opportunity to learn a system and create a powerful professional network!
  • Tip 3: Be Aware of Industry Trends: Keep abreast of the changes occurring with your specific industry, and stay current in certification or licensing standards to help keep your skill sets up to date. Attend free professional webinars, networking events, and conferences. Learning new trends or approaches to teaching content can strengthen your résumé.
  • Tip 4: Stay Connected to Professional Organizations: Stay involved with professional networks and organizations both at the local and national level. This entails not only keeping your membership status up to date but participating in live and virtual events. Many professional organizations post jobs or networks among their members during a job search. Also, share your career aspirations with your professional network. You may find that network members are willing to share with you openly, introduce you to key leaders, and keep you up to date regarding opportunities. Finally, be a good steward by serving your membership group through volunteering for a task force or supporting an event.
  • Tip 5: Engage in Social Media: In today's world of social media, one must follow the trends and participate in an active, respectful manner. Create a professional LinkedIn account that highlights all your accomplishments and skill sets. Use this site to grow your network and connect with professionals from around the world. LinkedIn also sponsors many wonderful educational groups, which share insights regarding the latest news and trends. A word of cautions-keep your professional social media presence separate from your personal accounts. In 2016, Career Builder reported that nearly 3 out of every 5 organizations use social networks to research potential candidates.

Wishing your great success!

Judith Cardenas, PhD is a faculty member at Purdue Global. The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not represent the view of Purdue Global. Purdue Global cannot guarantee employment or career advancement.


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And if you are considering pursuing higher education we invite you to find out more about Purdue Global’s programs and explore our undergraduate and graduate degree offerings.

It is important to note that certain career paths are growing and our degrees are designed to strengthen your knowledge and prepare our students to advance their careers. But Purdue Global cannot guarantee employment or career advancement. Several factors specific to a student’s or alumni’s backgrounds and actions, as well as economic and job conditions, affect employment. Also, keep in mind that national long-term projections covered in articles may not reflect local and/or short-term economic or job conditions, and do not guarantee actual job growth.