Scott Jeffe: Hello, my name is Scott Jeffe and I am a Senior Research Director here at EducationDynamics. I’d like to thank you for joining us for another Session Spotlight, where I introduce you to speakers of the Conference on Adult Learners Enrollment Management (CALEM) 2016.
Joining me from beautiful Newburg, New York I have Lisa Gallina. Lisa is the Director of Admissions for Graduate Programs and Adult Degree Completion at Mount Saint Mary College. Lisa also oversees the college’s programs for veterans at West Point and Stewart Air Force Base, and the community education program at the College’s Desmond Campus. Some of her areas of research include trends in adult learning and strategies for recruitment and retention. Lisa has presented at 3 CALEM conferences and 5 UPCEA conferences, and she has also done consultant work for several colleges on the east coast to help them improve their recruitment and retention strategies.
This year, Lisa’s session at CALEM will explore three ways to ensure that you build strong adult student-centered teams. She will also discuss strategies to retrain people you may inherit from within your organization (who may not have previously worked with adult students) and how to locate new staff with appropriate transferable skills from other industries and competitor schools.
Lisa, why did you choose to focus your session on recruiting strong teams at this year’s conference?
Lisa Gallina: Well it’s always kind of been an interesting topic to think about. There’s not a clear pathway to getting into this field. I’m sure you or I didn’t go to college when we were young and think I just some day want to work with adult learners and help them, it was an evolution. So I thought how do people get here and how do we connect people would be a really interesting thing to explore. We focus a lot on recruiting students and retaining the students but how about recruiting and retaining the staff.
Scott Jeffe: Well, when I saw your proposal I was really pleased with it because this is something that every institution we work with has a problem and certainly with the inheriting folks from other places within the college. So this really was an excellent session for us to add to the CALEM program this year. What are some skills you think are necessary to be a successful recruiter or advisor for adults students?
Lisa Gallina: I think the first thing is to be very compassionate. Have an entrepreneurial outlook on life, so if one way doesn’t work, what else could we do? Consultative. Very detailed oriented. A listener, someone who is listening to the person’s journey and then able to respond with appropriate resources. So you have to really also know not only your institution but also what’s going on in competitor institutions so you can appropriately advise a student prospect to not necessarily apply to your school but maybe to go to a theater school or to a competitor school. So that you know that you are putting them in the right direction because long term that is going to help you much better than just recruiting someone and trying to fit them into your school’s program that wouldn’t be appropriate.
Scott Jeffe: I think that’s so true and really does align with all the work we do here at EducationDynamics. Okay, so how would you go about re-training a person that you’ve inherited from elsewhere in your university from perhaps the traditional side?
Lisa Gallina: Well, what we will do (and we’ve inherited probably five new team members over the time I have worked at my current institution Mount Saint Mary College) and the first thing I always consider is what is important them. What part of their previous job did the excel at, did they enjoy, and to try to make sure that 20% of this new position holds onto those things. So if they are very strong with social media or relationship development, whatever it was that part stays within. Then do sort of an inventory with them, like who are their relationships on campus because those are doors we may have never been able to open that they already have the keys to and have a great relationship. Then we look at how we can bring them out and do a lot of mentoring. So before we expect someone to go out and start recruiting, they go through at least 3-6 months of training where they have a mentor that they are with and they are asking questions and they are receiving feedback. Because the traditional market is so different and there are some really great transferable skills such as communication, working against a deadline to hit a goal, trying to retain students. So there are a lot of similarities but our traditional side recruiters have been dealing with parents, so we have them reflect on how did you connect with parents, and how can you translate those connections because now you are connecting with the parent or adult as a student.
Scott Jeffe: What I like about that response is the notion that from day one you find something of value they bring in. Because they’ve got a lot of learning to do we certainly know that but they also bring a lot of expertise and we’ve seen that work at a lot of institutions. It’s human nature, everybody does better when they feel valued. Okay, so now the next question is, if you don’t have those people within your organization, how do you recruit employees from other industries and what are you looking for?
Lisa Gallina: So, we’ve over time done some data collection on who’s been successful that has worked with us and what kind of fields have they come from? What we’ve found from our experience (and I have larger research I’ll share at the conference) at anecdotally we’ve found that people coming out of public school systems that are retiring such as guidance counselors and teachers because they have a whole set of skills that transfer beautifully. Also, a person who works in social media and maybe they got into a small start-up and they are happy with what they do but they would rather be in an organization with more structure and stability but still be able to use those social media skills. Someone with an accounting background can be excellent with the enrollment management data collection and analysis. Also, pharmaceutical sales, a person may no longer be interested in doing that any longer but may want to sell the product or service of education. So there are a lot of ways you can transfer those folks over. We are looking people with sales backgrounds, marketing backgrounds, counseling backgrounds, those have are typically the top three backgrounds that have been most successful at working with the adult learner.
Scott Jeffe: Very good. Now the next thing that I know you are going to speak about is retaining talent. And I am wondering whether you included that because it’s one of the biggest things that CALEM attendees talk to us about. There seems to be a lot of turnover in positions, particularly in the adult unit sometimes because it’s view as possibly not as important as the traditional market. That they are using it as a stepping stone. So what are you going to talk about at CALEM in terms of retaining these wonderful people that you’ve recruited?
Lisa Gallina: That is really important because for us, some of the folks that I’ve lost, I’ve lost to higher paying jobs, they’ve gone to a school district to work where they can come in at a higher salary rate than someone coming in as a new recruiter. However, the things we promote are the professional development that we offer, attending conferences like CALEM. This year, I’m bringing with me one of my new junior folks who is a Counseling Masters, she is doing recruitment and advising, she is coming to CALEM so that she can learn. So that opportunity to go with other higher education professionals and learn collaboratively. The idea that what you’ve done previously is connected to what you are currently doing. And many of our partner schools offers tuition reimbursement, discounts, and even free tuition. So though it might not be the salary that your adult student recruiter might desire, your child might get a free education, which I’m taking advantage of. My daughter’s last year of high school is today and I’ve been at Mt Saint Mary College for ten years. So you think longevity and you can improve on your child, spouse, and your education without getting into additional debt. So by offering a lot of different perks such as staff development days, going to regional conferences such as The Conference on Adult Learner Enrollment Management, that keeps a person connected to all the industry events. It is also great group therapy and gives people the opportunity to come up with enrollment strategies. That is why I am so excited to bring younger staff to CALEM each year because it is immensely valuable for them to understand the connection to their past career and how this leverages them to be successful today.
Scott Jeffe: I am glad you said that because from the organizers point-of-view the very best thing about CALEM is the passion that we see amongst attendees that come. These attendees love to do what they do. They love it! And there is group therapy when they come to CALEM because they realize that they are not alone. But to have the opportunity over two and half days and to talk with folks that are having the same problems. These things that you are talking about are the issues, how do they retain the people that they have, how do they find people that are really good at this – both within and without. Here is my last question, what is the best thing about working with adult and graduate students?
Lisa Gallina: For me, having a teenager, I always think about the energy you need expel to get someone else to do something that you think is best for them to do. The adult population as already lived that life, they potentially already made a bad decision when they were younger that they are trying to repair or trying to move on from. The great thing about working with the adult student is that they are self-motivated. They are an entrepreneur or possibly they are trying to move up in their current position or change positions. I know that these are the top three ways anecdotally, but last year at CALEM when Carol Aslanian and you spoke, Scott, you were really able to show that through data. I love working with someone who wants to start their own business or wants to work within social media as well as a career changer. Another great thing about CALEM is I’ve made friends from other universities such as Salve Regina, Wagner College, Concordia, and all over the country and the east coast. So not only is it the conference that is amazing, it is the connections you make with other attendees and you can ask them about adult programs they are launching and what were the challenges. That is hugely beneficial because when working with adults you want to be able to say to them that you have worked with other institutions and universities and this what is available to you in the marketplace.
Scott Jeffe : Well attendees certainly do get a lot of data from us based upon the market research we have done.
Well, I want to thank you for taking the time to answer some of these questions Lisa, and I’m looking forward to hearing your entire presentation at this year’s conference. The Conference on Adult Learners Enrollment Management will be in Alexandria, Virginia on July 19th through the 21st. For all of you that are listening check out our website www.calemconference.org for a list of all 30 speakers and view all 50 institutions that are sending people to this great conference. Thank you Lisa.
Lisa Gallina: Thank you.