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Was Leaving Higher Ed Worth It? Chapter 3 with Natalie Surace
Zach Busekrus: [00:00:00] Your email templates or website are stuck in 2010 or your program brochures look like they could have been made in Microsoft Paint. It's time to give the sponsor of this week's episode a call. Meet Unincorporated. Unincorporated is a higher education agency committed to building awareness, growing enrollment, and launching programs for universities.
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Again, that's unincorporated.com/enroll.[00:01:00]
Okay, Natalie. We are live. How you doing today? I am good. How are you, Zach? I am doing, I'm doing excellent. I'm in Maine actually right now, which is one of my favorite places in the entire world. So I'm in Booth Bay Harbor, Maine, which is north of Portland and like south of Bar Harbor. Um, but it's absolutely [00:02:00] beautiful right now.
That's fantastic. and you, you were calling from, New York ro
Natalie Surace: for New York. Yes. Where we're just getting the beautiful fall leather and, uh, everything else.
Zach Busekrus: Well, that's exciting. Um, well, I'm excited to to chat with you. Uh, this is, uh, part of this special series that we're putting together called What You Know, was It Worth It?
And really what we're after is, uh, stories of folks who during. Pandemic over the past two and a half, three years have decided to, to leave higher ed and are working at some sort of higher ed adjacent company or, or organization. So I'm really excited to to chat with you and hear and hear your story. And I thought to, to kick us off, it'd be great to hear from you the story behind why you decided to to work in higher.
Natalie Surace: Yes. And I love that you're doing this, by the way. I think it's an important story to tell and it's a trend that I'm really [00:03:00] seeing. So, uh, for me, in terms of why I came to work in higher ed, I was extremely passionate about where I went, uh, for my undergraduate degree. Okay.
Zach Busekrus: Which was where?
Natalie Surace: Institute of Technology. Okay. Okay. So you went to r t, it's a great sort of, yes. R i t, the great support of upstate New York geeky campus area. Um, and I really just, I felt like I hadn't quite experienced everything and when I was looking at where I wanted to work, I really just wanted to.
Continue working at r i t, uh, or working with people at r i t and giving back and being part of what I felt was this just tremendously vibrant, engaging, welcoming community there.
Zach Busekrus: And so were you, had you worked there as an as an undergrad?
Natalie Surace: So I had done sort of volunteer work Okay. Here and there. Uh, ran clubs and different things.
Zach Busekrus: And you were just, you just were, by the time you graduated, you [00:04:00] were like, yeah, I'm not ready. I'm not quite ready to leave the community. I'm not ready to leave. Yeah, I, I feel like it's maybe a little bit more common now that folks who end up becoming admissions counselors or working in marketing communications at a college or university, they do so for their al mater fresh out of school, but, I feel like, I feel like that didn't happen as much as, as it does now.
So that's, uh, that's awesome. That's really cool. Um, is there, is there a, a scene you can paint or, or a story you can tell that that helps us understand like what you, what you loved most about your time? Working in, in higher ed. So I
Natalie Surace: was mentioning that I t was sort of this geeky campus. Uh, at one point we were actually named the Geekiest campus in America.
Zach Busekrus: That's hilarious. .
Natalie Surace: And this goes to, uh, you know, all of the. The massive numbers of people that participated in these humans versus zombies competition on campus and, [00:05:00] um, quidditch and a bunch of just the, the level to which people got engaged with all of these just unique things that people at other universities might question.
Yeah. But here, this is sort of a normal part of the day, and so we were named the Geekiest campus in America and. Was a big moment. I think that was like a moment where I went, oh my gosh, I love working here. I love being part of this community because there are others who might say that being named the Geekiest campus in America is not something to brag about
But we did. We owned it. We just let that flag fly. We really just wanted to, uh, very much. Be known as that, as as the sort of winner there. And it was all about, we had this sort of week, couple weeks really celebrating that, celebrating the idea of uniqueness and [00:06:00] inclusion and all of the things that came with being sort of Vicky's campus.
And this spawned a host of things. So for. I at the time was running social media for our alumni population. Okay. And there's about 114,000 alumni for r a t and. We had things like, uh, the celebrated announcement about being named to the Geekiest campus. Um, this was also maybe a couple weeks before April Fools Day.
Okay. So we had this fun April Fools joke where we talked about, uh, the zombie apocalypse courses. We were starting to teach and just had some sort of a running joke about that and . We shared that in such a dead hand way, that there were a lot of people that were not sure if we were serious or not . Um, and, and just that idea of just being able to again, be part of that culture, embrace that super unique thing about r I t, [00:07:00] uh, and have everybody just incredibly excited about it.
Yeah. That was that moment for me, I think.
Zach Busekrus: Yeah. That, that was, uh, an unexpected answer in the best way possible. So I, I love that. Was, um, talk, talk to me about the, the culture of, of your team. So like how, how, how was your team made up and, uh, were you under a director of marketing communications, like structurally, how was your team organized?
Natalie Surace: Yes, there were some team shifts. Okay. Uh, so originally when I first started in the role, I was under a. Uh, director of Marketing within Alumni Relations specifically. Okay. Um, as time went on, that role did change a little bit. It opened up to different things in terms of what my role was involved in. . Um, but the department changed, so, and I think a lot of universities went through this.
It was no longer just alumni relations. We were combined with development, so it was development and alumni [00:08:00] relations, and it really became focused on both of
Zach Busekrus: those. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. And what, what was the culture of your team like? Like what, I mean, it sounds like you guys were a dynamic, fun group of people that got excited about zombie apocalypse, but like, what, what, you know, how, how did you all relate?
Like, talk to us just a little bit about like the cultural makeup of your team.
Natalie Surace: Yeah. Uh, in terms of cultural makeup, it was very, it was very much a fun atmosphere. I mean, we would, you know, for Halloween, um, everybody in alumni relations would dress up, and I don't mean just like wear something on their head.
I mean, we had one person who would dress. Like a zombie, actually, , um, or, I'm sorry. No, not a zombie like Frankenstein. Oh,
Zach Busekrus: okay. Okay. Close enough. Full makeup
Natalie Surace: wearing like a bloody wedding dress and just walk around campus that way, talking to all the students, and it was very much about this culture of.
[00:09:00] Having fun, sort of teasing each other, um, being very engaged in the campus community with the students. And, and so that was really what it was like within the alumni relations portion. Um, and I'm sure we'll touch on this a little bit as we talk about what, how things changed and how things are changing in higher ed.
But there was a lot of change once things moved under development because things there function a little bit differently. It's not all about engagement. It's really about certain numbers, and it became a little, I would say that that was more of a formal
Zach Busekrus: atmosphere. Hmm. Hmm. Yeah. I mean, it seems. Based off of what you just described, like this like idyllic right, uh, uh, collegiate experience.
Right. Where, where you think about sort of, you know, how, how they did it at Oxford and Cambridge back in the day where like the faculty and the staff and the students are like one community, right? And you, and you and you feel that in energy. Um, and so I'm curious, yeah. As, as you moved, as, as the reorg [00:10:00] happened and the, the structural changes, uh, fell into place.
What, what, what changed? You mentioned it was, uh, it became a little bit more serious, a little bit more structured, but, um, how, how did that affect, I guess, your team and, and the team's morale?
Natalie Surace: I would say that in terms of how it affected the team's morale, uh, team morale, There was no immediate change in team morale, but you did notice a change over time.
Things started operating in a little bit more of the traditional corporate sense. Okay. Uh, people would, rather than simply being there to engage the population, engage the alumni, uh, engaged donors. It became a little bit more like a sales team. Okay. Where you had certain numbers that you were expected to meet, had a quota Yeah.
You were expected to put out. So a lot of expectations put on there. And unfortunately when you put those expectations on [00:11:00] people, when you are in a sales team and you are selling to the same people every day, yeah. You can't expect that your numbers are going to go up and up and up. So what you found was, You were almost set up to.
To fail in certain ways because you didn't have the engagement piece going, and you didn't have the numbers building in a way to accommodate the the growth that they were looking
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Hmm. So resources for. Alumni engagement decreased, but the expectations for, you know, the funds that needed to be garnered from the alumni increased . Yes, precisely. Yeah. Yeah. That's, uh, that is tough. That is, that is tricky. [00:13:00] Takes a special person to be able to figure out how to crack that nut. Um, and, you know, chances are if they have figured that out, they're probably not working, um, in, in development at a college or university if they're that good.
Um, so at what. Do you decide to like look elsewhere? And did you, did you start your, uh, you know, approach your, your kind of like search on your own? Like were you, were you approached by a recruiter? Like at what point in time do you start thinking, Hey, maybe, maybe my time at at r i t is, uh, is up?
Natalie Surace: One of the reasons that I was working on R A T I I mentioned before that I was very interested in working.
For the culture that I wanted to be part of giving back to this university. Another part of it was the benefit of being able to get my mba. Mm. And I think that's why a lot of people do end up working in higher education is so that they do get that benefit of free education either for themselves or for their children or their spouses.
Yeah. [00:14:00] Um, so really when I started to come to the end of my mba, That's when I started looking elsewhere. As it turned out, I got my A, B A, I finished it in 2020. Oh, nice. So . So unfortunately there wasn't a whole lot of a job market and I had to wait a little bit. But the truth is that I really ended up. I really had been feeling that urge to explore other avenues for a couple years.
Um, I felt like the culture there had changed and not just simply in that one department, but throughout the university. It was something that you could feel that there wasn't this excitement, there wasn't this passion about uniqueness and at the welcoming, inclusive nature, uh, as much as had been there before.
Yeah. And it wasn't as open to the sort of creativity and imagination that comes
Zach Busekrus: with that. Yeah, yeah. Yeah. I mean, and I, I feel like one of the reasons, at least the people I've been talking to recently, one of the [00:15:00] reasons people love higher ed and working in higher ed is. Is because of the culture, right?
Is because of that like dynamic community that exists when you bring brilliant minds together with, you know, fun, spunky young people and like you just throw all those people into a nice mix and you, you know, you get a zombie apocalypse or something like that, right? And like that, that, that element right of culture isn't, isn't to be undermined.
It's actually, it, it's, it's a major selling point, uh, as to why people come to higher ed and, and why they stay. You remove that or that gets watered down or, or, you know, moves or changes in a direction that doesn't, doesn't resonate, uh, with you in the same way that it did before. That's gotta be, that's gotta be difficult.
That's gotta be like a real, huh, wow. What, what am I doing here? Maybe it is time to, to do something else. And especially
Natalie Surace: with the jobs there being perhaps not as competitive as some jobs elsewhere. Uh, that really, if you're there for the culture and the culture disappears that. Have that reason, have any reason [00:16:00] that separates them?
Zach Busekrus: Yeah. Few few people would say, I'm here for the salary, you know? So, um, , yes. Unfortunately that is true. Unfortunately. That's true. Yeah. So, You get your mba, how do you decide what to do with respect to your search? So you could have searched for jobs anywhere. Right. Um, and you, you landed, um, at a higher ed, uh, agency.
And we'll talk about that in just a second here. But like, how did you, how did you start your, your job search? Were you looking, were you willing to do anything or were you pretty committed to trying to find a place that was higher adjacent?
Natalie Surace: I would say my main focus. Sort of like when I decided to work at R I t, my main focus was on culture.
And so it wasn't necessarily about needing to work in higher ed or among the culture of higher ed, but it was about seeking a similar culture. And as it turned out, I happened to find that in a higher ed, uh, facing agency. But I would've [00:17:00] certainly explored, uh, and did explore many other options in a variety of
Zach Busekrus: industries.
Yeah. Yeah. So you are now working at Vision Point and, um, you know, one a, a well known hired marketing agency. I'm curious, how did, how did that transition go for you? Like, were you. As you got into it, were you like, oh my gosh, agency life is 10 times harder than I would've expected, or, you know, there's no work life balance.
Cause I, I do think some of the, some of the things that people fear, right, when making this jump is like, well, I don't, I'm, I'm used to representing one brand, right? How am I going to effectively help multiple brands? Right? And, and of course people's roles are, are all different, but generally speaking, agencies have more than one client, right.
That they're trying to market for. So, so talk to us a little bit about. What that adjustment was like, what surprised you about it and, um, you know, what, what, if anything was, has been challenging about it?
Natalie Surace: Well, I would say [00:18:00] that I had heard a lot of horror stories about working at an agency, uh, that, you know, you, they're gonna push you to work, uh, crazy hours and you're never gonna have a work life balance.
And the work there is sort of home drumm, there's not a lot of creativity, you know, all of these things that had been thrown at me. I had a lot of peer going into working in the agency space. It was not a space I'd been in before. And I've had those concerns verified by people that have worked at other agencies.
Yeah. But in terms of the agency that I'm in, um, really, because again, the reason I chose to work there was because of the culture. Hmm. And I did find that because there's so much of a focus on this healthy culture within this agency, and I think that's not common necessarily in agencies. But this focus on, on culture and on wellbeing of employees and, and really [00:19:00] just that sort of, Uh, creative atmosphere that it was not at all what I was fearing that it might be.
Um, I actually found that I think there were pros and cons of choosing to work in an agency. Um, I came from a position where I was the manager, uh, of marketing within. Uh, college at r i t, uh, after working in alumni relations. Okay. And I was wearing multiple hats, so I was very much in this position where I was doing everything and I was sort of, I was in that position where I was calling all of the shots to a certain extent.
Um, and moving into the agency, because it is this much larger team of marketers, you tend to be more very hyper focused on. The type of work that you are expected to do to contribute sort of lineup of [00:20:00] that, uh, makes up the marketing services? Yeah, so I found that I had in some ways perhaps less control.
I was involved in less, um, but at the same time, I could leave, I could take vacation and not worry that everything was going to fall apart without me. . That is a beautiful thing. I cannot even describe how wonderful a feeling it is to know that you have so many other people that are capable of taking things on.
Yeah. Um, that you can sort of, you have those people to fall back. Whereas when you are the person that wears all these hats, puts a lot of pressure on you to be there all the time to handle every crisis to, and it, it really weighs on you. And it wears you
Zach Busekrus: down. Yeah. Yeah. I mean, I, I I can't imagine, um, you know, what, what that must have felt like, right?
Is that, that sort of relief, right? That you feel, um, knowing, hey, you know [00:21:00] what, it's okay to go to the beach and leave my phone back at the, the beach house. Uh, The world will not end. Um, you know, without, without me, I'm not, I'm not solely responsible for saving the world. Um, what a, what a cool, what a cool relief there.
Um, I'm curious. Has anything surprised you about you? You've shared a little bit here, but like, just anything else that has surprised you about agency life? Maybe some misconceptions that you had, um, and or have you, have you learned anything about yourself, uh, in this process that, that might be surprising or that might have, you know, surprised, you know, past you?
Natalie Surace: I think that my biggest surprise coming from. University that was really known for innovation and imagination and creativity. I expected that there would be less room for imagination going into the agency work than there was working at this university that had all of that sort of [00:22:00] embedded into what it was about.
I would say that the biggest surprise for me was that there was more room for imagination. Yeah. For. Exploration, and I think that that was because of the focus on strategy. Yeah. So particularly I am a marketing strategist with Vision Point, and not every agency has a strategy team, but because we do, because this is an agency that puts so much focus on strategy, it allows so much more room for that creativity and for the forethought that goes into really making.
Uh, work and work well, and that was something that was lacking the most, I think, in higher education because there was such a focus and a push for implementation and results that, uh, even when we had this fantastic culture in a lot of [00:23:00] engage. That there wasn't room made for the strategy, for the imagination.
That oftentimes it was very spontaneous.
Zach Busekrus: Yeah, yeah. Yeah. I know what a, what a what a keen observation and I, I, I would imagine. Validating, right? Like validating that, oh wow, okay. I can, I can, I thought I could express myself creatively or share my ideas, you know, fluidly before now, now I can do that. Uh, and then some.
And in fact now, like that's actually what I'm expected to do. Um, and, you know, rewarded for. So I think that that's, uh, that's fantastic. What about, I'm, I'm curious about, um, like the reporting structure, right? So like higher ed tends to be quite hierarchical in nature. Um, and there are certain. Pros to those, uh, to, to that structure.
Although I feel like those pros are a little bit less compelling these days. Um, I hear, I hear more people talk about the cons than the pros, I should say. Um, I would imagine your structure at your agencies is a little bit different, and I'm just curious, like, how, how has it been [00:24:00] working with, with leadership and in the context of a, of a really different organizational structure?
Natalie Surace: Yes, it certainly is very different and I would say it's, there are still very much silos. Um, the silos that existed in higher education do exist in the agency as long as you get to a stage that, or a size, yeah. Uh, agency at the size that we are at. Um, So there's a certain hierarchy there, but the hierarchy is more in these functional teams, right?
So we have, um, a team for strategy and a team for account management, uh, and a team for project management, a team for data, a team for media. And so the hierarchy really works as in, um, leader. Leads those different functional teams. Yeah. [00:25:00] And all of those leaders report up to the ceo. So there is not a whole lot, um, that there's not a whole lot of reporting structure that gets in the way of the sort of maybe lower down employees like myself.
Yeah. And the even the ceo. Yeah. Um, and I've found that I've been able to. Reach out to the CEO, who's very involved in our Slack channels, , um, and Express concerns. Express ideas. Um, we have a biannual, uh, sort of retreat that we do every year. Nice. As a company. And one of the things that they try to encourage is this sort of brainstorming of ideas or discussion of difficult topics.
So, I feel like there is a approachability [00:26:00] of the people that are at the top in the. Whereas there was not an approachability in higher education.
Zach Busekrus: Hmm. Hmm. Yeah. No, that's a, that's again, another, another wonderful, uh, uh, insight that I, that I think is not unique, right. Like, to you, that's, I think what folks have been saying on this series and, and across social media is, is just this, this just real challenge with being able to kind of approach leaders in a meaningful way.
Um, and again, I. These leaders also have a lot going on, so it's difficult to get time with them. Right? Especially in the context of leading a, leading a division or, or leading an institution. Um, and so, but all that, all that to say, I do feel like we're entering a, a time and a season where there is kind of this expectation that everyone's sort of voice.
Matters. And being able to express your thoughts and your ideas and your opinions, uh, are not just important, but, [00:27:00] um, welcomed right, and, and, and encouraged. And I think that there are these cool models that we're seeing. In companies across the spectrum. But, but especially I feel like those who are, who are higher ed agencies, at least those that I know do a really good job at at least trying to facilitate environments that are conducive to, to the sharing and conducive to real, honest, timely feedback, which I, again, I feel like is, can be sort of the antithesis of, of how higher ed teams operate.
Natalie Surace: Yes. Yes. And I believe personally that Slack has gone a long way Yeah. In making that a reality because without, you know, prior to utilizing that. And I think it's something that still isn't utilized in higher education, uh, although perhaps more so since the pandemic, that just opens up this whole world of communication, of ideas of, uh, discussion across teams.
Zach Busekrus: there before. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Couldn't, couldn't agree more. Um, it's, it's, it's funny how, [00:28:00] how much culture can happen on Slack, right? And how much culture can happen in, in channels and, you know, the power of different emojis and I mean, like, in hindsight or, you know, I shouldn't, you know, before the pandemic and whatnot.
Um, I mean, we've used Slack for, for a while, but the idea. Your culture at your company would primarily be experienced through that? Um, would've been impossible to think about years ago. A few, just a few years ago. And now it's, it very much is the way that like I feel connected to my team right, is, is through Slack and through the way that people react to different things on Slack.
It's just a, it's just such a funny, funny, funny idea, right? And to see how far we've.
Natalie Surace: Yes. Oh yeah. We share. I mean, it's a replacement for us for all the hallway conversations we used to. Right. Exactly. So we share pictures of food and we share kudos every time. And that's something that's very encouraged.
Uh, every time somebody does something that is [00:29:00] worth a shout out. Yeah. That's all on. And we see things every day, every day people are getting kudos. Uh, It's really inspiring to see that and to see the fruition of some really great work. So it's, it's a game changer. Yeah.
Zach Busekrus: Yeah. Well, couple final questions for you, for you, Natalie, first and foremost, um, is, is there anything that the leadership at R it could have done differently to, to have inspired you to stay?
Natalie Surace: If there's anything they could have done differently. Uh, certainly more flexibility would've been great. But I think really it was the lack of thought into the university culture. Hmm. And the work culture that became a problem. And that seems systemic to the industry itself. So I don't know that this is something that I could place on.
The team that I was in [00:30:00] or, uh, or even some of the leadership elements. I think it's really this shift in higher education that we're seeing that's causing these culture shifts. Yeah. Um, and it's, it's really sort of forcing the culture to change in the industry.
Zach Busekrus: Ah, hey, I'll Zach here from Enroll Offi. If you like this podcast, chances are you'll like other enroll FFI shows.
Our podcast network is growing by the month, and we've got a plethora of marketing admissions and higher ed technology shows that are jam packed with stories, ideas, and frameworks that are all designed to empower you to become a better higher ed professional. Our shows feature a selection of the industry's best as your hosts learn from Mickey baes, Jeremy Tier, Jamie Hunt, Corrin Myers, Jamie Le, and many, many more.
You can learn more about the Enroll five Podcast Network at. Dot rfi.org. Our shows help higher ed marketers and admissions professionals find their next big idea. Find email@example.com.[00:31:00]
Very well said. Follow up. Kind of like a related question here, slightly different though. Like what, what words of wisdom do you have for, for higher ed leaders who you know are finding themselves in this difficult moment? Right. I'm, I'm sure many institutional leaders wish they had more budget and more resources to just double everyone's salaries and retain top talent.
Right. So, They're in this kind of challenging pickle themselves. And, and at the same time, many folks are looking across the aisle and thinking, Hey, you know what, maybe I do want to have a little bit more balance in my life. Maybe I do want to, you know, work with people that challenge me to be better and greater and, and maybe I wanna make more money.
And maybe, maybe the easy you wear, the easiest way to do that is to go hop on over to an agency. Uh, how, how would you. Higher ed leaders to, to act right now. Any, any things that the progressive ones that want, that want to choose [00:32:00] something, right? Again, they can't, they can't just double everyone's salary overnight, right?
They can't just fix culture overnight, but, but what could they do, um, now to, to make progress in, in harnessing and, and really sort of like retaining their, their best people.
Natalie Surace: Well, this is where I think I need to make a, um, I need to showcase one of the examples of marketing strategy, please. And the way we sort of think about it, um, when we think about marketing strategy for universities, we talk a lot about this sea of sameness, right?
Which basically means that all of the universities, when they put ads out, they basically look the same. Yep. Very similar charts of students and they use very similar language and. When we talk about how to make people stand out, how to make universities stand out from that sea of sameness, we say, uh, we really try to dig into what [00:33:00] makes them different.
Hmm. They're culture different. And there are some universities that are able to answer this question really well. Like r a t could tell you all about the geeky side. Um, and there are some universities that don't have an answer or their answer is, well, we're the university for everyone. And with that is that you're not standing out, that you're not doing anything different.
And I think the my recommendations in terms of hiring. Four universities come down to do my recommendations for establishing culture in the university that you really need to. Sort of established culture perhaps with students first, that if you don't have a culture that you can determine right now, you need to sort of build that.
You need to say, okay, who do we want our students to be? Who do we want them to be? Not just what degrees do we want them to obtain, but who we want them to be as people? What differences do we want them to make? What do [00:34:00] we want them to be known for so that we can be known for that? And I think in terms of hiring, What it comes down to.
I think higher education is never going to be able to compete with a lot of the corporate industries out there. Yeah. In terms of . Yeah. So what that means is that, uh, certainly the benefits in higher education are great and very competitive, but I think what it comes down to is you need to have a great work culture.
Hmm. And in order to have that, you need to be able to say what the university culture. in order to hire people that are going to be, uh, engaged by that culture. Yeah, so that's sort of, that's sort of a long term solution, but I think that's what you.
Zach Busekrus: What I, the first thing that popped into my head when you were saying that too, is like, you know, competitive culture.
Like, what does it look like to have a comp, like a, we talk about sort of competitive salaries, competitive benefits, right? What does it look like to have a competitive culture to, [00:35:00] to an organization that someone might wanna go work for? Right? And like, how, how can you compete on culture and in theory, Right.
Culture's a, a quote unquote, easier thing to compete on, right? It doesn't necessarily require more resources, right? Or, or, you know, more, more money. You, you, it could require that, right? Um, but, but it doesn't necessarily require that. So, so what does it look like to, for those people that really are. Going to make a job choice primarily based off of culture.
What does it look like to have the best culture in your particular region? The best culture, right? In your particular, um, you know, category of school, whatever, whatever it might be. Um, if you can't compete, if you can't be competitive at the salary level, if you're struggling to be even more, you know, any more competitive than you are at the benefits level, what does it look like to be competitive at the cultural level?
Natalie Surace: Yes. Yes. And how do you make sure that leadership implements that in the right way? Yeah.
Zach Busekrus: Yeah. Wow. Well, Natalie, this has been, this has been wonderful. I [00:36:00] really appreciate you taking time to, to share your story. Um, I guess my final, final question for you is, what words of encouragement would you give to, or words of advice would you give to anyone who is still in higher ed?
Who, who's, who might be tuning in and they're thinking about making a switch? They haven't made the switch yet. Uh, any, any. Uh, bits of, of wisdom for them.
Natalie Surace: Oh gosh. I hate, I hate to recommend give them advice in terms of leaving, because I hate to tell anybody to leave higher education because it's an industry I'm so passionate about.
Yeah, yeah. But in terms of, if you are someone that is considering leaving the higher education industry or just leaving your role in higher education, uh, and perhaps staying in the industry, but doing something different. I think you need to think about why you decided to work in higher education, what you liked about it.
Hmm. And ensure that your move [00:37:00] aligns with. What you're seeking, what you're passionate about, because like me, I was very, uh, extremely passionate about the culture and about the, the desire for creativity. And I was lucky to be able to find that elsewhere. Um, but I think a lot of people might say, uh, that they're looking for a job because of the benefits, because of the salary, and, and those are fantastic things and those are the right things to be looking for.
But I think in terms of personal satisfaction in work, really need to be able to identify something that speaks to you.
Zach Busekrus: Very, very well said. Well, Natalie, this has been great. If folks want to reach out and just hear a little bit more about your story or ask you a couple follow up questions, what's the, what's the best way for them to do so?
Natalie Surace: I can be found on Instagram. I, I have to say, I don't really tweet [00:38:00] anymore. Okay. Okay. There's a Twitter out there somewhere. Yeah, found out there somewhere. I have got an email address. Yeah. Why don't
Zach Busekrus: we just go ahead, we'll drop your email address, if that's okay with you at the, in the show notes below. So folks, if you wanna connect with Natalie and learn a little bit more about her and her story, ask her some questions, just scrolling down to the show notes and uh, you can send her an email.
Thank you so much, Zach.
Hey y’all, Zach here from Enrollify. I hope you enjoyed this episode of the Enrollify podcast. If you like this episode, do us a huge favor and hit that follow and subscribe button below. Furthermore, if you've got just two minutes to spare, we would greatly appreciate you reading a rating and a review of this show on Apple.
Our podcast network is growing by the month, and you've got a plethora of marketing admissions and higher ed technology shows that are jam packed with stories, ideas, and frameworks that are all designed to empower you to become a better higher ed professional. But Enrollify is far more [00:39:00] than just a podcast network.
Enrollify is where higher ed comes to learn new marketing skills, discover new products and services, and find their next job. We're a growing learning community of 4,000 members, and we love to welcome you into. You can access our free blog, articles, newsletters, e-courses, and more, or purchase our master course on how to market a university with Terry Flannery at enrollify.org. We look forward to meeting you soon and welcoming you into the community. Again, you can subscribe for free at enrollify.org.
About the Episode
The what's what...
The Great Resignation has hit higher ed with full force. Once a month for the next few months, we’ll feature individuals who have left higher ed to work in a higher ed adjacent role (think a marketing agency, edtech company, or consultancy).
In Chapter 3 we feature Natalie Surace — a marketing strategist at VisionPoint Marketing who recently left her job as a Digital Marketing and Communications Manager at the Rochester Institute of Technology.
The Enrollify Podcast is a part of the Enrollify Podcast Network. If you like this podcast, chances are you’ll like other Enrollify shows too!
Our podcast network is growing by the month and we’ve got a plethora of marketing, admissions, and higher ed technology shows that are jam packed with stories, ideas, and frameworks all designed to empower you to be a better higher ed professional. Our shows feature a selection of the industry’s best as your hosts. Learn from Mickey Baines, Zach Busekrus, Jaime Hunt, Corynn Myers, Jaime Gleason and many more.
Learn more about The Enrollify Podcast Network at podcasts.enrollify.org. Our shows help higher ed marketers and admissions professionals find their next big idea — come and find yours!
About the Podcast
Zach is the Founder of Enrollify. He thoroughly enjoys building new brands, developing and executing content marketing strategies, and hosting podcasts. When he's not working on Enrollify, he enjoys discussing life's quandaries over coffee (or a good bourbon) with friends, building Sponstayneous (his travel brand side hustle), trying out new HIIT workouts, and adventuring across the globe with his wife!
Natalie Surace is a marketing professional with 10+ years of experience in B2B, B2C, and academic marketing strategy. She is currently leading strategic marketing and planning efforts for VisionPoint Marketing's higher education clients. Natalie is extremely passionate about the latest online marketing tools and creative tactics being employed today to help us achieve the perfect intersection of design, technology, and data. Specialties include strategic content planning, website design and advanced analytics, modern email development, virtual event management, video strategy, search engine optimization (SEO), and advertising.
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UNINCORPORATED (UN) is a higher education agency committed to building awareness, growing enrollment, and launching programs for universities. They believe that education is the primary means of ascension in society, so they use their expertise to help colleges and universities recruit and train the next generation. They work closely with deans, administrators, and faculty who are worried about their programs’ success and need additional expertise to remain relevant and appeal to their stakeholders. UNINCORPORATED's mission is to help colleges and universities enhance their programs by providing strategic direction and expertise in branding, marketing, and design.learn more
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