3-minute mentor: Evolving with an institution

July 29, 2019
  • Competencies
  • Professional Development and Contributions to the Field
  • Mentoring
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Nowadays, it’s rare for professionals to stay put at their first job, as they leave in search of career advancement and better opportunities offered. But that wasn’t the case for many senior professionals like Patricia Mathay, who has been working at the University of Pittsburgh since 1976--almost forty-three years. 

Evolving with an institution

Mathay was able to stay with her institution because her role and the institution itself changed drastically over the years. Starting off as a data entry operator fresh out of college, Mathay wasn’t ever confined to one role. Her data entry position morphed to include systems integration from registration, financial aid, and accounts payable, allowing her to become a jill-of-all-trades and immerse herself in developing skills in different areas. 

Mathay embraced the eclectic role for what it could offer her: a range of new skills, ownership over her role, and eventually the ability to obtain her MBA. After receiving her MBA in 1994 from the University of Pittsburgh, Mathay’s role shifted to include more registrar responsibilities and she now serves as the University Registrar. 

Network, network… and then mentor

Mathay attributed her career growth to her analytical skills and willingness to work with people who suggested both roles

and projects to her. Her problem-solving abilities were aided by the people she made connections with at AACRAO. 

“Networking is the most important thing you can do,” she says. According to Mathay, networking within and beyond your institution helps your work become refined as you can bounce ideas off of your peers, and brings in revenue through vendor connections. 

Mathay has self-awareness about the changes in the field between when she first started, and now. The ability to shape her role as she saw it is not one that’s common today, and many new professionals to the field often leave their institution because of lack of upward mobility. 

“People like me have made it tough for newer individuals to move up,” she says. 

Her solution? Invest in younger staff--involve them in professional development opportunities like AACRAO meetings, restructure your office if you need to, and keep a finger on the pulse of the office to see what staff needs.