RA Career Paths | Carolyn Mazzella
Many who find themselves in a career in research administration didn’t start out in this field. This series will focus on the unique, and often winding, paths that led to a career in research administration. Do you have an interesting story about how you got into your career in research administration? Share it with us by submitting an article here!
After celebrating 11 years working in research, I finally embraced the role of research administrator. Starting out as a student-turned-staff member during the end of the late 2000s financial crisis, I counted my lucky stars to not be like so many of my graduating peers who were struggling to find a job. I had a job – in a high-stress, fast-paced “think tank.” We were self-funded and subsequently expendable. Knowing this, I went back to school for four years at night to finish my Masters of Public Administration.
A few months after graduating, that “expendable” clause came back in full force so I made a quick lateral shift to another “odd duck” group then another. You know, those research groups you didn’t know your university had. Those ones that work in basements of buildings and the staff were like ghosts. That was me, from one weird group to another. I somehow became okay with the Wild West lifestyle of these research teams. I managed the business of their frontiers. A jack-of-all-trades. It was stressful but always changing, always interesting.
After spending ten years working in research groups, from education to nanotechnology, from trauma medicine, I finally realized what I did in each group had a name, a profession. Starting my eleventh year in higher ed, now in a dedicated sponsored projects role, I can say that I am truly a research administrator. Or maybe I was one all along? To me, public administration, business administration, and research administration are all branches of the same big tree. Each limb is unique, but we all take care of the business of progress.
Authored by Carolyn Mazzella, Sponsored Projects Administrator
University of Pittsburgh