Case study

Programme administrator — Danielle Jeffery

Danielle found that her experience as a student was incredibly valuable when applying for a job as a higher education administrator

How did you get your job as an education administrator?

After completing a degree in festivals and events management at Edinburgh Napier University, I went on to do an MSc in Tourism and Hospitality Management. Upon graduation I got a job as an English as a foreign language programme assistant through the university's job vacancies webpage. I spoke with contacts that I still had within the university to get some tips on the application process.

Later, I went on to apply for my current job as a programme administrator through the staff intranet.

How relevant is your degree to your job?

In terms of the subject itself, my current job has very little relevance to my degree. However, I feel that the skills I have developed through my undergraduate and postgraduate study have helped me greatly.

For example, I was already familiar with certain administrative procedures, as well as the academic calendar, events, meetings and boards that happen annually.

There have also been occasions when a member of staff has asked me about my experiences at university in order to understand the process from a student's perspective.

I was also already familiar with the software packages that I now use daily in my role (e.g., Word, Excel and PowerPoint.)

What are your main work activities?

My job involves answering student and staff enquiries by email, telephone or in person. I make sure that all the students on the programme I look after have enrolled on the correct modules and that their records are up to date.

When the module and programme boards take place, I need to prepare the board papers, make sure they're taken to the appropriate board and process any changes that occur at the board.

After the programme board has taken place, I have to process the students' decision codes in to our system and prepare the necessary emails and documents to be sent out to the appropriate students.

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

I haven't been in my role that long but I'm already taking on certain tasks that I previously had no responsibility over. When I first started, for example, I wasn't expected to take minutes because I had little experience of this in previous jobs. However, now I've got more experience and have attended enough meetings and boards, I've been given the chance to write my own minutes.

I really hope to continue in my current role and develop my skills. Once I've done this and gained enough experience, I hope to progress to the next level as assistant operations manager.

What do you enjoy about being an education administrator?

I had plenty of good experiences at university and I wanted to be a part of what made it positive, so being able to help students when they have questions is very rewarding for me.

I love that I've been through university as a student and I now get the opportunity to learn about how the university functions.

What are the most challenging parts of your job?

I find minute taking the most challenging part of my job at the moment, although I'm enjoying the learning process and I am gaining more confidence. I have support and encouragement from my line manager, who is helping me to develop my skills in this area.

Any words of advice for someone who wants to be an education administrator?

My advice would be to speak to current employees at the university about the application process to try and get some tips on how you can make your application stand out. Try and draw from your own university/college experience and use it in your application. I

It can be hard work at times, but I find that it is a very rewarding place to work.

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