On Wednesday, February 18th, SHRM @ QU was able to engage in conversation with Guest Speaker: Meggan Ann Johnson. Johnson is an Enrollment Advisor/Consulting Recruiter at Pearson Embanet, which is a provider of online higher learning services. Johnson was able to discuss a typical day of working at her company, her greatest accomplishments and insight on advancing at her company.
1) Can you tell us about your position (what does a typical day look like)?
I’m a consulting recruiter, who interfaces with universities to understand market trends in the education industry and how that impacts students. This can involve calling prospective students- mostly undergrads, then reporting backing to universities and internal teams, to explain what applications look like and what the industry looks like.
2) What training/education/degree is required for this career?
Typically, Pearson likes to have graduate degrees, but we do have employees with bachelor’s degrees. Most have an educational background in industrial organizational psychology, HR, management, and/or data analytics. Some of the degree requirements for Pearson depend on the university you are partnering with.
3) How did you get your present job?
I have always been interested in education; always wanted to teach and do research. I got started in recruiting directly for a university, which influences the business side of education, then came to Pearson in more of a consulting capacity. I have now been here for three years.
4) What personal characteristics does someone need in order to be successful in this career?
My job is very similar to recruiting for an organization; person-institution fit is critical. You need to recognize what that fit is—you need a lot of consulting skills, time management, being able to multi-task, understand what is going on in your industry and what your clients are doing, as well as great recruiting skills.
5) What do you like best about your job/career?
I get to interface with everyone from students to faculty. I also get to work with our instructional design team and I am exposed to all parts of the process from becoming a student to curriculum changes. I can see what is going on in many different industries, and am involved in all different aspects of education, not just one. My recruitment job is not just calling, it includes a lot of project management.
6) What do you like least?
Recruiting can be really intense. It requires a high level of energy. It can be really tiring.
7) What advice do you have for someone considering a career in this field?
Where you think you are going to end up is not necessarily where you actually end up. Don’t pigeon-hole yourself. There are many skills necessary like consulting, project management, industry research, etc. You have to be a people-person to interact with the people hiring or students you are recruiting. If you think face-to-face interaction is exciting, this is something you would enjoy.
8) How is recruiting for online universities different from on-ground?
You have to be able to pick up on tone of voice; you don’t see body language. Being able to verbally paint a picture of the university and understand things from their tone are critical. It involves asking the right kind of questions. You need to be able to explain the differences between online and on-ground programs. They are not for everyone; different people have different needs.
9) Would you do anything differently?
I probably would have gone directly to work for Pearson. I use my IO skills here a lot more. Working for a typical institution can involve more sales. Here I get more training and instructional design exposure. I would have tried to jump into instructional design a lot sooner.
10) Why did you get more involved in the education side of recruiting?
Ever since I was young, people told me I should be a trainer or teacher. I realized I did not want to analyze people. I wanted to solve business problems. One way to do that is in education. I did some research and teaching assistant work for 3 years. With my current position, I have a lot of impact in people’s lives, even though I am not teaching them. The more involved I got, the more I knew it was where I wanted to stay. I would be happy in any area of education. It is nice to see the impact and helping people understand there is still value in education.
11) What differences do you see in for-profit and not-for profit education institutions?
For-profit tends to have higher levels of service for students, but is not as credible because they may not have trained faculty in the area, accreditation issues, and student degrees may not be recognized. In not for profit: there is usually more research. Where I went to school and the school I recruit for are both Research 1 schools. Therefore, you get to see the theory and practice. However, things move at a slower pace, including admissions, and things faculty can accomplish like curriculum changes, if you need more service, etc.
12) How was the transition from undergrad to grad?
I put myself through undergrad and was working full time as an undergrad and working full time during graduate school. My suggestion for both traditional and nontraditional students, do not underestimate the value of networking- asking people how they got where they are. Do not just stop with one faculty, talk to multiple people, and attend conferences when you can. People who are currently doing it can tell you things about what is good and bad and can be future connections when looking for a career.
13) Where would you go if you want to advance?
That is why I like my company. You can go from recruiting to director of recruiting, to head of admissions. You could also do a career development or career services role. You can move up within recruitment, but you can also do other roles. Pearson is big on validated learning concepts: instructional designers, psychometricians, recruiting, etc. There is room to try out different things and move up in the organization. When selecting a company, this is a great question to ask. Is there room for growth.
The SHRM@QU members greatly appreciated these words of wisdom. We would like to thank Meggan Ann Johnson for taking the time out of her busy work schedule to talk with us about her career and share her advice.