How Senior Leaders Support Young Professionals

min read

Two former members of the EDUCAUSE Young Professionals Advisory Committee discuss how senior leadership is supporting younger staff in the higher ed tech industry. You can also hear the full podcast or video conversation or watch on video.

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Sarah Buszka
Senior Relationship Manager
Stanford University

Bea Jimenez
Learning Engineer
Northwestern University

John O'Brien
President and CEO

John O'Brien: So when you look at some of the people who are senior leaders and who are veterans, how are they best supporting young... What practices do you see them doing that are supporting your work and young professionals in general?

Sarah Buszka: I would say, and this is just a kudos to the Educause community because I've so many of my people here. I don't know if I want to name names, but there's some senior folks in the Educause community, folks who have titles of CIO or President or something in that level who have reached out to me, even in this past year, and have seen my potential and have given me opportunities and have specifically and directly shoulder tapped me to take over something for them or to participate in something for them. Recently this manifested with a webinar I just moderated yesterday, actually. It was called New to Higher Ed Getting Acclimated. And because of this person shoulder tapping me, I then shoulder tapped folks on the YPAC, three folks actually who currently serve on the YPAC to also come along and serve and deliver this webinar.

And it's just such an amazing display of how we can support each other and give people opportunities. And it went so well, we had so much knowledge to share. Even while we were doing our webinar, I realized, "Wow, I'm with a group of young professionals who know so much." We have so much experience to share, so much perspective to share that I really feel is necessary to hear and to learn from. And it was just a great example of how one person in a senior position, who could have taken that role and could have done this work again, but decided to pass the torch and give others opportunities.

And that opened the door for me to give others opportunities as well. So I think my challenge to folks would be, I think a lot of us who are in senior leadership positions have a lot of opportunities and access to spaces and people that others don't have. So just try teeing it up for someone and seeing how they handle it, seeing if they can do it, seeing if they're interested, inviting them to join you in meetings, to shadow, giving them a small project, spinning up a committee or an advisory council or a young professional's advisory council at your institution and giving folks some resources to see what they do.

Bea Jimenez: I would say support of flexibility. I feel like especially young professionals, we are so diverse, and especially coming from pandemics. Things weren't so happy in so many different stories and human beings in different places, in different positions. So I would say providing that support. And I asked what I say the magic question, "How can I support you?" So I love when I hear that question because my needs might be different from Sarah's needs, and it doesn't mean that I'm going to work less or more or any different, but having that opportunity to express the things I need, and at least hearing from my managers and leaders that they are willing to listen. I think that for me, that's when magic happens.