Blog by Sumana Harihareswara, Changeset founder

29 Jun 2023, 12:15 p.m.

On Choosing Work Environments

Someone in a group I'm in just asked others' opinions on working in higher education. I said:

In big institutions -- such as higher education and government and companies that have over, say, 300 employees -- it matters so much whether you have a champion. Someone who is savvy and entrepreneurial about the resources they can command, can manage the diplomacy and process stuff to remove or alleviate barriers and annoyances for you, and is, ideally, the main person you have to report to (I say this since sometimes reporting structures get complex and you kind of report to multiple people), or is 1-2 levels above you and knows who you are. Someone who likes you and thinks you are brilliant and that your work matters.

In that environment, you can have an excellent time, as a contractor or as an employee. Great resources at your command, collaborations with a variety of skilled people, intellectually interesting work, the scale to work on big projects and make a big difference, (maybe, if you are an employee) best-in-class benefits packages, prestige.

And if that person retires, dies, or leaves, then -- maybe right away, maybe within 18 months -- things are likely to get much worse.


Sumana Harihareswara
29 Jun 2023, 12:26 p.m.

Bret Devereaux recently described the labor conditions of workers at most US colleges and universities: check out the section "The Structure of a University: We need to start by outlining the structure of the university and all of its employees."