Here at The Muse, we know that there's no better way to understand how to ace your own employer brand than by seeing some best practices in action.
Well, you're in luck—because that's exactly what our Employer Spotlight Series does. We feature all sorts of helpful advice and insights from companies that are totally crushing their employer brands, so that you can learn from their success.
This month, we chatted with Jillian Terrill, Senior Talent Acquisition Coordinator, Talent Brand & Internship Program at Ellucian about how the company supports career growth and why empowering employees to do their best work starts with onboarding.
Tell us a little bit about your career journey. How did you discover your current role? Does it align with your background (education or previous work experience)?
My career journey was not the most straightforward. After getting my master’s degree in social work with a concentration in gerontology from the University of Alabama (Roll Tide!), I moved back to the DC area. I was teaching chair tap classes at a nursing home and filing HR paperwork for Ellucian part-time when they asked if I would be interested in a full-time HR coordinator position. It was a big decision for me because I’m really passionate about gerontology—but I found that my new role in HR sparked a new kind of excitement.
Now, one of the biggest highlights of my role is that it’s not perfectly aligned with my educational background and I have the chance to learn new things every day.
What is one tool or piece of advice you wish you'd known about when you first started working at Ellucian?
Pick something that you love about yourself and run with it—establish your personal brand! This is something that we talk to our interns about early on in their experience so they can experiment during their time with us.
Personally, I wear bright colors and prints so that people associate my cheerful personality with my clothing.
How has Ellucian supported your growth within the company over the past few years?
I’ve been with Ellucian for nearly three years now and I've experienced so many opportunities for growth along the way. As you know, I started by filing part-time, after which I was hired to coordinate our internship program. Then, I worked on the HR operations team onboarding our new hires and currently, I'm transitioning my role to focus solely on our employment brand.
Ellucian recognizes that growth is not just about moving your way up to the top—and I love that along the way to my current position, I've been encouraged to move laterally and explore what I enjoy doing. I’ve also been lucky enough to be able to develop champions across the company, at all different levels of the organization, that not only support me but also share learning opportunities and encouragement.
Recently, I was (and still am) really proud to work with a cross-functional team to create and produce our own video celebrating the women of Ellucian—the first in a series of videos on diversity and inclusion. It’s not a project I ever imagined I'd get to work on in my role but it was an amazing learning experience!
In your current role, one of your main focuses is customizing and improving Ellucian's corporate onboarding process. How do you make sure your new employees feel welcome and set up for success from day one?
Welcoming people with gifts is huge! Whether it's branded swag or a hand-written note (which is my favorite), a personal touch goes a long way in making new employees feel welcome and like they made the right choice. I've found that people do their best when they can bring the best version of themselves to the office, and showing new hires that we're excited to have them on board can help them start out feeling empowered to succeed.
You also lead Ellucian's internship program. How does employee onboarding extend to making sure interns feel like they’re fully part of the team and empowered to take ownership?
We designed our program to make sure that all of our interns feel like a cohesive group while giving them access to interact with and learn from leaders at all levels of the company. Of course, internships provide a lot of value to the students—but our interns are also valuable contributors to Ellucian and we want to make sure they know their work matters. (Also, personal welcome gifts work for onboarding interns, too!)
Ellucian has offices in Virginia, Florida, Ireland, India, Mexico, and Texas—and you’re currently trying to expand your brand presence globally. How does The Muse help you tell your company story and engage top talent across the globe?
We have 15 offices globally but we operate as one team that’s leading the digital transformation of higher education in the cloud. The projection of our brand is something we’re continually exploring with The Muse as a key partner. The Muse gives us a platform to share our story with a broader audience by highlighting our various office environments and explaining why growing your career at Ellucian is rewarding. They authentically highlight our employee testimonials at all levels by sharing why our employees are proud to support higher education.
The Muse gives us a platform to share our story with a broader audience by highlighting our various office environments and explaining why growing your career at Ellucian is rewarding.
What are the most rewarding parts of your job?
The most rewarding part of my job is constantly having the opportunity to try new things that make our employee experience better. One example is coming up with our intern video challenge. We tasked our 2018 summer interns to create videos sharing what they enjoy most about being an Ellucian intern and then posted the winning video on our YouTube channel. This year, we revamped it so all of the videos go on our Team Ellucian social media platforms and the winner is determined by the most likes.
A few others: Launching our first-ever project fair, being a judge for our Guided Pathways Scholarship, sharing our brand from Ellucian Live, launching our new careers website (including our Ellucian Life campaign that empowered our employees to share their amazing stories). Even smaller things like planning in-office events that make a difference in the day-to-day work-life of our employees. All of these endeavors have challenged me in new ways and added an element of fun to my job!
What's something you do outside of work that makes you a better employee?
Outside of the office, I have a second job as a sales manager in retail. I love that I get to build relationships within that job as well as at Ellucian. Additionally, the customer service skills I learn in this role have helped me better understand how to work with customers internally and navigate different personality types.
Something else I love to do is volunteer within my local school system or at nursing homes. For me, that piece is really energizing because it ties in my passions and everything I studied getting my master's degree.
Photo of Jillian Terrill courtesy of Jillian Terrill/Ellucian.
Kayla put pen to paper at a young age and never looked back. After getting her degree in English Lit from Wesleyan University, she took agency life out for a spin as a copywriter before joining The Muse to create content for the marketing team. When she's not at work, you can find Kayla adventuring around New York, strength training, buried in a book, or desperately trying not to sneeze in public.More from this Author