in the vault: A Safe Place to Ask Candid Questions

Every professional - entry level, mid-career, and experienced - faces situations where they wish they had someone they trusted who would listen to their challenge and thoughtfully respond with ideas for addressing it.  In The Vault is a safe, anonymous space for League members to submit questions and receive candid practical advice from "Sophia Confidential" for even the most sensitive of issues.

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Submit your question or situation anonymously, and our team of experienced international educators will post it with our best answer.

Watch the e-newsletter and our site for your answer!


EXAMPLE


Dear Sophia,

As most of us know, we do not work in the field of higher education to become rich but we should still be able to make a livable wage. I have recently found out I am the third-lowest-paid director on my campus and one of the only ones that is required to be accessible 24/7 for emergencies abroad and at home with our international students.

I do understand there are differences in positions and that some directors have been in their roles longer than me. Taking this into account as well as researching salary data put out by the Chronicle of Higher Education, I feel I am being underpaid. My university is located in an expensive area, and in my estimation I should be making approximately $10,000 more than what I am currently making.

I have brought this to the attention of my supervisor - the fact that I am one of the lowest paid directors and that salaries should take into account the cost of living of the area - and she told me she would look into it but not to expect anything because we have budget issues. I was also told it would be better if I had another job offer in hand because it would give me more leverage.

Given all of this, what should I do in order to ensure I can make a livable wage for all of the work I am being asked to do?

Sincerely,

Exhausted on the East Coast

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Dear Sophia,

I am our campus Senior International Officer, managing study abroad, international student services, partnership development, and campus internationalization. I hold a Director title (and salary); however, have much more (and growing) responsibility (as well as 24/7 on-call duties) than peers in my division.

How can I navigate a promotion request to accurately reflect my level of responsibility and duties? Such a promotion would break with a current structure that has existed for a very long time and I fear would not be received well despite my good work. However, I see this as an opportunity to step up, grow, show my value, and ask for a fair title and salary that reflects my role. I would love some feedback and direction.

Sincerely,

Onward and Upward

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Dear Sophia,

I've been at my job - being incrementally promoted - for eight years. My boss just left, and the organization has promoted someone to be interim while they do a search.

My interim boss, who has for the last 4 years been very supportive of me and become a friend, seems to have become someone else. She finds fault with everything I do, has given me negative reviews (despite my outstanding reviews for the previous 7 years), and seems to change the rules from one weekly meeting to another so I never know what is being used to measure my success from one week to another. She focuses on my weaknesses, and I'm starting to doubt my own abilities.

I love this job and the other people I work with, but I'm not sure I can stay here without damaging my career. My spouse wants me to quit and look for a new job, but I hate to leave this job that I love!  What do I do?!

Sincerely,

Betrayed and Confused

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Dear Sophia,

Recently I have been part of an interview process to fill an advisor position in our Education Abroad Office. As the Assistant Director, I have had to lead the entire process of reviewing resumes, selecting candidates, and organizing the interviews (which includes inviting individuals from other offices to assist in the second round). It is a significant amount of extra work which my supervisor, the Director, asked me to do.

After the final round of interviews, my supervisor and I sat down to review our top choices. One my top candidates was a male, who did not appear on my supervisor’s list, and when I asked his reasoning he said the male candidate was “overqualified for the position.” However, in comparing my top (male) candidate with his top (female) candidate, the two had exactly the same qualifications in terms of number of years in the field, degrees, international background, and other relevant areas. I believe that my supervisor’s decision to eliminate the male candidate due to overqualification was a sexist one, and I let that be known.

How could I have better handled this situation? Following this interaction I am noticing other behaviors that include burdening me with additional work and undermining me when it is time to make a decision or take credit for something good. How can I work with my supervisor moving forward?

Sincerely,

Irritated in Illinois

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Dear Sophia,

I supervise a small staff. Recently one of my employees asked for a day off that I could not approve, since it was one of our busiest days of the year (a pre-departure orientation for over 100 students).

This employee did not like the decision to not approve her requested day. She served her notice to HR, telling them I had gone back on my word over this day off after originally saying yes. I had never said yes, and the pre-departure orientation had been on her calendar since the beginning of the semester. She also told HR that I was difficult to work with and this was another factor to her leaving.

Is there a different way I should have handled this situation? How should I move forward in my communications with the HR department without it turning into a "she said, she said" situation and still protecting myself?

Sincerely,

Frustrated in the Four Corners

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