Case study

Admissions manager — Georgie Cave

The time spent working with students during her university years helped Georgie to enter the world of university administration, a job she has loved doing since she started

How did you get your job?

I loved being a student ambassador during my time at the University of Exeter; running campus tours, helping at open days, applicant days and lots of other events. When I graduated I didn't know what I wanted to go into, so when I saw an admissions advisor job going at the University of Surrey in my home town of Guildford, I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to continue in the same line of work for a few months while I decided what I wanted to do. Once I started, I loved it and the rest is history, I'm still here three and a half years later.

How relevant is your degree to your job?

I graduated in 2016 with a BSc Geography at the University of Exeter. I currently work as an admissions manager in the Faculty of Engineering and Physical Sciences and Postgraduate Research. The subject of my degree isn't particularly relevant, but the transferable skills I gained definitely are. Attention to detail, analytical skills, organisation, critical thinking, and problem solving are all invaluable, and I strongly feel it is skills gained during my degree that has enabled me to move up fairly quickly. Everything that I did alongside my degree during my time at Exeter was also hugely valuable, especially for the line management side of my role, for improving communication, compassion and adaptability.

What are your main work activities?

A lot of my role involves supporting my team so that they can process the many thousands of applications we receive every year. I also coordinate the admissions side of our pre-sessional English courses and our external partnerships with other universities/foundation providers among other things. I'm rarely sat at my desk for very long at a time, I'm always up and around the office, supporting my team or meeting with other departments.

How has your role developed and what are your career ambitions?

I started as an admissions advisor and then became an admissions team leader the following year, managing a team of four advisors. I really enjoyed the line management side and the increased ability to run the team, so in February 2019 I successfully applied for my current admissions manager role. Myself and my team are now responsible for the whole admissions process for all students applying to the faculty or anyone applying for a PhD in any faculty.

What do you enjoy about your job?

Working with my team. I have relative freedom to decide how I organise my team as long as we get the job done, and I enjoy this freedom to try out new ideas and ways of working. I also enjoy the more supporting side of line management.

The higher education and university sector as a whole is also a great place to work, I've met so many lovely people, had opportunities to get involved with different events and conferences and really make a difference to an applicant/student's journey, all while working in a nice environment and enjoying a good work/life balance.

What are the most challenging parts?

The higher education environment is getting increasingly more competitive for universities, so we have to benchmark ourselves against other universities to ensure we remain competitive. Occasionally, this can result in us having to do things differently to how we would have wanted because of what our competitors are doing, so managing that can be a challenge. In addition, the sector is constantly changing, and while this can be exciting in many ways, we are required to make sure we remain compliant with external bodies such as UKVI.

Any words of advice for someone who wants to get into this job?

If you're still at university, I would recommend getting involved with any recruitment activities/student ambassador work available, perhaps helping out on open days. This will give you a good introduction into the kind of things applicants are looking at and the different backgrounds they come from.

Universities often have a fairly fast staff turnover due to internal promotion, among other factors, so if you don’t get the first job you apply for, it's likely that another one will come up within a few months, or you could consider another university.

Organisations will all advertise their vacancies on their own websites, but is also a good place to look for all education-based jobs.

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