Be a Community Champion in Higher Ed
The “Get to Know a Higher Ed Professional” series features people working in various positions in higher education, to get an inside perspective of what they do and what inspires them.
Jenny Lee Berry is the Community Relations Manager at Oregon Health & Science University and former Regional Director of Greater Oregon HERC.
What has been the most enjoyable aspect of your job on a personal level?
I work a lot with our community-based partners and different community leaders to really create and forge partnerships. I often hear a lot from community leaders that have been in this work of service for decades and they often told me their challenges and concerns have remained constant. And so with my job, I find a lot of enjoyment in trying to chip away at inequities.
How do we create opportunities that promote real engagement and real partnership? Where it’s not on a consultation basis, but it’s co-creation, cooperation, and partnership. I think it’s really just redefining what partnership looks like. And how do we amplify some of the work that’s already happening? Our community leaders and organizations have been doing this work so much longer, how do we help create the right paths and opportunities to connect the dots?
In your five years at Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU), what have you found to be the biggest benefits to working in higher ed?
There are a lot of departments—it’s virtually a small city. We’re not a traditional college campus, we’re more of an academic health center, so we have a teaching hospital, a research area, as well as the education piece, so we have really three distinct things that we do. And I think that the diversity of positions that we have on our campus is really amazing to see. Virtually any position you can think of, we have. From entry-level to advanced career track. You can get someone that’s right out of college or even high school, or student workers. And so I would say this: the opportunities are great.
I think there are tremendous growth opportunities. I’m of that generation that you stay in one location for years on end because that’s what my parents told me was important. So for me, I don’t really look to transition to a lot of different jobs or organizations. I stay loyal, so to speak. Especially for the academic health center, there’s a wide range of opportunities and for growth. You might enter as a manager, and after a while, you get to director level and beyond. You can really grow in your career within higher education.
And for me personally, I would say what keeps me at OHSU is that the work is so important. In higher education that mission-driven piece of it is so important and that’s what keeps me here.
What advice would you have for people who are already working in higher ed but are looking for ways to move up?
I absolutely say send an introductory email if there’s a position or department that you really want to get into. Reach out to somebody within that department, learn more about that department or program to see what it would take for one to get into that department or role. Within higher education, although some areas are competitive, people are generally interested to share their career pathway and how they got to where they are. And you can learn best practices or lessons learned from their experience. So my advice is to not be afraid to reach out and learn more.
About the Author: Harold Gutmann is the director of brand and marketing strategy at Santa Clara University. He is a longtime writer and editor who is proud to work in higher education, and encourages all job seekers to consider it.