It’s More Than Research and Lecturing
A lot of people limit their consideration of careers in universities in lecturing or research, but universities offer opportunities for you to pursue other career paths too.
Universities are huge, complex organisations. When you are trying to find the right member of staff to help you with a particular issue, this can prove to be challenging. When you are looking for a new job though, that complexity can represent an opportunity. Universities in England contribute around £95 billion* to the economy and support more than 815,000 jobs** across England
These professional roles aren’t the traditional university teaching or researcher roles but they are alike in many other ways. They benefit from similar pay scales, holidays and benefits packages, such as subsidised childcare. Many offer opportunities for retraining or developing different skills sets beyond research or lecturing. These roles can also include opportunities for travel, attending conferences, and sometimes even doing research in the area you are working in, so they can satisfy many of the criteria which people seek in more traditional academic discipline roles.
These jobs can often be hidden from you if you are a student or a researcher, but it’s worth seeking out the services they offer to help you make the most of your time in the university. They can often help and support you while you are a student or researcher, helping you to make a success of your time there. Often by interacting with these people and the services they provide, you can gain further insight into their activities, which can often pique your interest or open up new career ideas for you.
Think about the different departments at a university, not the schools built around different disciplines; instead, think of the other departments that support them. These include, but are not limited to, student services, research offices, employer liaison and careers and employability services. These departments are all integral to the university and essential to their success.
Let’s look at some of these roles a little more closely.
As a business analyst, you’ll help to manage, change and plan for the future in line with business goals. You’ll need to understand the current organisational situation, identify future needs and create solutions to help meet those needs, usually in relation to information and software systems. You’ll need excellent communication skills, a passion for creating solutions and a creative and analytical mind.
Lab technicians are professionals who provide laboratory support for scientific experiments and research. They work with lab equipment to conduct tests on samples or substances and report on the results to share with their team. They also maintain science laboratories and preparation rooms and their equipment to keep in good working order.
A marketing manager manages a team of marketers to promote brands and products to increase sales and profits. They need extensive knowledge of marketing strategies and the ability to identify new business leads. They use market research and analysis to direct marketing strategy and planning and oversee the production of all promotional materials and marketing campaigns.
This role typically involves installing and configuring computer systems, diagnosing hardware and software faults and solving technical and application problems, either over the phone or in person.
Web developers typically specialise in web technologies and create websites and apps. Web developers focus on the user interface either in front end development – working on the website that visitors use or back end development – managing the functions of the website.
Web editors manage the content of a website, including imagery and text, and optimise content to attract the right audience.
Data scientists extract, analyse and interpret data to find patterns in their website users’ interactions to present in simple terms and help to predict users’ interactions in the future and identify problems. Once the data is interpreted it needs to be presented in a clear and coherent way accessible to businesses.
Quality assurance specialists test products or services to make sure that regulatory compliance standards are met and a brand’s unique quality standards are upheld. They record and track complaints, conduct audits and create protocols for testing.
HR advisors provide advice on recruiting and retaining employees whilst complying with relevant HR policies and procedures. Knowledge of employment law and regulations is essential this role.
HR managers are professionals who oversee HR practices and processes and plan and implement training programs for staff.
Working in the payroll team to ensure that employees are paid correctly and on time, whilst paying the correct taxes and any other deductions. They often resolve pay queries and liaise with staff regarding wages and deductions.
A personal assistant is usually the first point of contact for their employer, dealing with phone calls and any correspondence, organising meetings and appointments, managing diaries and arranging any necessary travel and accommodation.
* Source: https://www.universitiesuk.ac.uk/what-we-do/creating-voice-our-members/media-releases/huge-economic-contribution-universities
Case studies of professionals working in HE:
- Richard Billingham – Executive Director of Human Resources and Organisational Development
- Sarah Dietrich – Business Development Manager at Warwick Conferences
- Jackie Thompson – Marketing and Communications Manager
- Jamie Brown – Head of Communications