Why I Made the Jump from HigherEd Institution to a HigherEdTech Company


Two weeks ago I started my first day working (albeit remotely) at the Res Ed software company, Roompact, and it was momentous in many ways for me. Not only is this my first full-time job after completing my PhD; but it is also my first job working for a private company as opposed to working at an institution of higher education.  I know a number of individuals that have made this switch from a higher education institution to a higher education vendor and more people who are contemplating it.  To that end, I wanted to share parts of my journey in making this transition in the hopes that it will help others who are thinking of doing the same.

Why I decided to work for a private company.

Prior to starting at Roompact, I had been working on my PhD in higher education full-time for the past four years.  When I applied for graduate programs, it was my intention to seek a faculty position or administrative position post-graduation.  As I progressed through my academic program, however, I learned how happy and healthy I was when I had the freedom to pursue my passions and explore my areas of interest to me–something that isn’t always possible in a traditional higher education role.  This experience of being independent greatly shaped how I conducted my job search.  I realized that, at this point in my life, at least, I wanted to take control of my own work and my destiny in new ways.  Working for a private company seemed to provide this.

As you know, my research interest is in technology and college students.  This also made the jump to private industry easier for me.  There were noticeable synergies between the work of tech companies and my research into social media and college student learning.  Through some serendipitous networking, Matt Unger, the co-founder of Roompact, reached out to me.  After visiting with Matt and the team out in Chicago, we all quickly realized how great a fit this be.  We drafted up a new position, and within a few short months, I said yes and took the jump!  I’m only on the beginning of this journey, but I’m excited by where it can potentially take me.roompact-highrez

Why I chose Roompact.

There are many reasons why I chose to work at Roompact, but there are three specifically that stood out for me.

1.  I believe in the people.

Upon interviewing with Roompact, it was immediately evident to me that I believed in the people with whom I would potentially be working.  In particular, Matt, the founder, inspired confidence in me.  I also saw the respect that his employees had for him.  The sense of trust and teamwork was palpable.  Roompact is a young growing small business, and I wanted to be a part of it.  More specifically, I wanted to be a part of a team that was building something together.  My now-co-workers share my dedication and passion to making the company succeed.  It’s an energy and a spirit that is a rare find… and it’s exciting.

2.  I believe in the product.

Having worked in residence life and related fields for over 15 years, I’ve worked with a number of software solutions, both vendor-supplied and home-grown.  When I had the opportunity to explore the Roompact software, I very quickly realized its potential.  It’s a modern product.  A product built like the apps and websites that we have all become accustomed to living in the mobile smart phone age.  All of those things I wished I could have done when I was a residence life professional but lacked the coding expertise?  Well… now we can do them.  I think the potential of the software is limitless.  To have the opportunity to be on the ground level of building it?  Priceless.

3.  I believe we can make a meaningful impact on students and the field.

What set Roompact out from the rest of the field for me was its desire to use research to inform practice.  I’ve witnessed other companies that profess this, but few that believe in it to the extent that they want to bake it into their DNA and the company culture.  As a newly minted doctor and someone who is dedicated to research and the mentoring of scholar-practitioners, this immediately resonated with me.  Roompact also has the goal of contributing back to the field of higher education through research of its own.  It’s part of a new breed of company that sees its mission not just in financial terms, but in how it can promote social good and advancement.  To be a part of something that can make this type of meaningful impact on the field of higher education and student affairs clinched it for me.  I wanted to work here.9EE0FF39-94F8-478C-BE47-5AA46FE408E3

The journey continues…

Although I am just on the start of my journey, I am excited to see where it will take me.  Taking a leap and leaning in can be incredibly scary, but also incredibly invigorating.  From time to time I’ll check in and let you know how it goes.  Here’s to new adventures friends!

2 thoughts on “Why I Made the Jump from HigherEd Institution to a HigherEdTech Company

  1. I am fascinated to follow your journey, Paul. I’m wondering how many more people will be making leaps like this, to alt-SA/higher ed “adjacent” organizations and roles to fulfill the desire to do the work, but in a more flexible and agile environment. Looking forward to seeing all the cool things you’ll do, and will be keeping an eye open on how we can collaborate! Enjoy 🙂

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