From University to Tech Startup...Why I Made the Leap

As I’ve started telling my friends, family, and colleagues about my career change, I always get the same reaction when I say that I’m going to work for a tech startup. Faces usually turn slightly confused, maybe a little concerned, and I start hearing things like “that’s interesting…” and “so will you be working out of someone’s garage?” I usually laugh a little, and then do my best to explain. Because to me, it makes perfect sense. CampusESP isn’t just a startup from my perspective. They are a company doing their best to fill a huge need for both the colleges and family members they serve. And in my last higher education role, I learned first-hand how critical it is for schools to effectively engage the parents of their students.

I’ve been in higher education for almost 10 years now, and in my most recent role I oversaw the parent program for the University of Missouri (Mizzou). I was in that role from 2014-2018, and over the course of that time period I saw just how important parents and families are to student success.

To many administrators, parents are a scary group. And while they certainly know how to cause a stir, or ruffle feathers to get what they want, it’s a population that I loved working with. The bottom line is that parents and guardians are involved. They’re often financially invested, and smartphone technology means they likely know when their child needs help before anyone else.

Those who work in parent and family engagement at colleges and universities today know how important it is to ensure that these folks are informed and connected. And if done right, they not only support their individual student but they also become supporters of the institution.

Engaging parents effectively is difficult to do on your own. In my one-person office at Mizzou, I encountered that regularly.

Our school made national headlines in the fall of 2015. While we were doing our best to get messages out to parents directly, with limited staff and communication resources, the office was overrun. Our toll-free parent line was one of the most contacted phone numbers on campus, our inbox was absolutely flooded with emails, and our social media channels were bombarded with comments and questions. The university lost the trust of many parents that week, and it has taken years to rebuild. I look back on that time with only one regret - that we didn’t send more messages and updates to families.

Having a tool like CampusESP would have made that tough job a little easier, and I found them in my search for new solutions to our communications challenges.

Throughout my professional career, I’ve been incredibly fortunate to always find roles where my knowledge, skills, and abilities meet the needs of the organization. As I make this next career shift, I find that happening again at CampusESP.

As a growing company, they need someone who shares the perspective of their current and future customers. Someone who understands the politics and structures of universities. And someone who believes in the importance of parent engagement. I am so excited to bring my experiences and strengths to the CampusESP team and help campuses across the country level up their parent engagement efforts!