Research Administration has changed in that today people can choose to be a Research Administrator as well as choose a Master’s degree in the field. Most people that have been in this field as long as I have did not have those choices; we got involved in Research Administration by accident. For me, I was a 21-year-old Special Education student who took a part-time job in the Research office to help finance my education. That was a long time ago and how my love of Research Administration began.
As I look back now, it is not easy to identify what exactly I enjoyed most about it, but once I learned what the Research office was all about I was hooked. I was never a rebel, always followed the rules so perhaps having so many rules and regulations to adhere to was an interest. I too always enjoyed the investigative side of things and this type of work certainly had that aspect in it. Reading and analyzing an RFP was like searching for a treasure; ensuring I understood the guidelines and requirements needed in the proposal and then reading the proposal to ensure it contained all the pieces referenced in the RFP, it was an amazing job.
Early in my Research Administration career, it became apparent that I was good at working with faculty that needed a little extra attention, either because they were new or because they felt the rules did not apply to them. I seemed to have a knack for explaining things and ensuring faculty that things could be done, perhaps not exactly as they wanted to do them, but we could find a way and follow the rules at the same time. More investigative work that I just reveled in and at the end, it was a win-win situation. In working with faculty, I also had an advantage; my father instilled in me the art of customer service. His words still resonate with me to this day: Always be polite, listen, listen, listen and only then respond. Be sympathetic if they are expressing a problem. Stand your ground if you know you are correct. If you are not correct, do not ever be afraid to admit that. If you make a mistake, own it, then learn from it, and never make that same mistake again. These words of wisdom always served me right and just enhanced my love for working with faculty.
As my career in this field grew so did my knowledge and when I transitioned to a supervisory role I learned that I truly enjoyed sharing my knowledge and helping others grow their careers and I made sure to give that knowledge away. I sometimes pushed my employees out of their comfort zone, but in a positive way when I knew they could handle it. A little nudge here and there and they were on their way. The more opportunity I had to help a career in Research Administration flourished the more I loved what I was doing.
I have had a few great mentors that have shaped my career and I have had my share of not so good people in my career path, but I chose to take the negative from those people and turn it into a positive by ensuring that I never use their tactics, and never treat people the way I was treated. In essence, even those that were not good to me, shaped my career in a positive way. I have made my mistakes along the way and learned from them and through it all I can only hope that I am better for all the mistakes I have made.
I do love Research Administration and everything it stands for and I have not even discussed the actual research that we are helping our faculty with, but that is a topic for another article.
Miriam A. Campo
Assistant Vice President for Research
Florida Atlantic University