Why working in a university is the best!*
Other than a fleeting thought on the day that I graduated from the University of Johannesburg, I’d never thought of a university as workplace, until providence took over and forcibly shoved me in the direction that I clearly needed to go.
When my husband and I decided to move to the UK so that he could pursue postgraduate studies, it still didn’t occur to me until his academic advisor suggested that I look for a job in my industry at the University. My first thought was, “how will I find a marketing job at a university? I have no lecturing experience, and I’m certainly not an academic.” With my background firmly rooted in the commercial sector, I was dubious about the prospect of looking for a job at an academic institution, but I took her advice and visited jobs.ac.uk. And it changed my life. If you visit jobs.ac.uk today, you will find 547 jobs in PR and Marketing. And here’s why I think you should do it:
- Campus life
I’m starting off with this one, because while it might not be the most substantial point on my list, it is one that brings me constant joy. I sometimes missed the student life when I was a fresh graduate, and working at a university has brought back the joy of being on campus. I get to take advantage of the facilities, the student discounts, the learning opportunities and the vibe, all while earning a competitive salary. As a university employee, you may also be eligible for on-campus accommodation. Bonus for when the traffic starts backing up. I don’t live on campus, but I live close enough that I can cycle into work (another flashback to my student days).
I sometimes felt restricted within the commercial sector, knowing that if I wanted career growth I would either have to wait for someone to leave, or to leave myself. Growth opportunities within the university are fantastic, and if you work hard and have a good attitude, it’s easy to grow within the various university departments, if that’s what you’re looking for from your career. They also provide fantastic training programmes to help you get to where you want to be.
- Work/life balance
I am a career-driven person. I want to work hard to ensure my own success, but I also believe, very deeply, in work/life balance, and I had never found an employer who shared this belief until I started working at a university.
I work as hard (and at times, harder) than I did in the commercial sector, and work late when I need to. But I also know that, in general, it’s ok to leave work at 5pm, and to leave work at work. In my previous roles, it was inevitable that my work life would creep into my home life, and I was constantly exhausted by worrying about the next work day while trying to fall asleep. Working at a university, I seldom go home worrying about the day’s work, because I know I gave it my all, and I have the opportunity to do it again tomorrow. Our generous annual leave allowance also helps with maintaining a good work life balance, as well as the fantastic on-campus health and wellbeing facilities.
- Work with purpose
I have found purpose in working in HE because I know that what I do makes a difference in the world (my philanthropic nature coming out there). I have the daily satisfaction of knowing that what I do helps people to get an education, and that helps to make the world just a little bit better. It is easier to deal with work pressure when you know that what you’re doing is actually for the greater good, and it changes the nature of the pressure to a positive driver.
All around, I have been far happier and more fulfilled in my career at the University of Warwick than I ever was before. I can honestly say that I love my job, and have found my home in HE.
*Please note: this article is an opinion piece, and is based entirely on my personal experience of working in a university.
University of Warwick