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What to Consider When Applying for an Auxiliary Director Position

by David Sullivan, Senior Advisor, SPARC

There is no degree program that specifically prepares one for the role of Auxiliary Director, and candidates will have related skills from backgrounds ranging from education, recreation, business, etc. When applying for an Auxiliary Director position, it's essential to consider various factors to ensure that the role aligns with your skills, experience, and career goals. Additionally, it is important to gauge how the role of Auxiliary Director fits into the overall school organization. 

Here are some key considerations:

  • Job Description: Review the job description carefully to understand the responsibilities, qualifications, and expectations for the position. Pay attention to the specific duties that a school assigns the Auxiliary Director, such as overseeing auxiliary services, managing staff, budgeting, and ensuring compliance with regulations. What are the “add-ons” that may not appear in the job description?

  • Relevant Experience: Assess your experience and background to determine if you have the necessary skills and qualifications for the role. Experience in leadership, management, budgeting, and customer service within a similar organization or industry is often valuable for an Auxiliary Director position. The role differs from school to school—some may emphasize program development and direct work with students while others may be more managerial and administrative. Consider if the way the school defines the role matches with your interests and skills.

  • Leadership Skills: As an Auxiliary Director, you may be responsible for leading and supervising a team of staff members. Consider your leadership abilities, including communication, decision-making, conflict resolution, and the ability to motivate and inspire others. Auxiliary staff can often range widely in experience, hours (part-time vs. full-time), and engagement (seasonal vs. year-round). Understanding the current staffing structure may be important.

  • Budget Management: Auxiliary Directors often have budgetary responsibilities, including developing budgets, monitoring expenses, and ensuring financial sustainability. Evaluate your experience with budget management and financial planning to determine if you're prepared for this aspect of the role. Clarify with the school what level of accounting and financial oversight you will be expected to administer and how much support you will have. 

  • Regulatory Compliance: Depending on the state, some auxiliary programs may be subject to various regulations, licensing, and compliance requirements. Familiarize yourself with any relevant regulations and consider your ability to ensure compliance in your role as Auxiliary Director. It may be helpful to discern how aware the school currently is about any regulatory issues and whether the school is currently in violation or license suspension with a regulator.

  • Customer Service Orientation: Auxiliary programs typically involve providing support and services to internal or external customers. Consider your ability to prioritize customer needs, enhance the quality of services provided, and maintain high levels of customer satisfaction. What is currently in place to support customer service? 

  • Strategic Planning: Evaluate your strategic thinking and planning skills, as Auxiliary Directors often play a key role in developing and implementing strategic plans for auxiliary services. Consider your ability to identify opportunities for improvement, set goals, and develop strategies to achieve them. Additionally, has the school identified the strategic priorities for auxiliary? Is the highest priority revenue generation? Admissions? Community engagement? 

  • Collaboration and Relationship Building: Assess your ability to collaborate effectively with other departments, stakeholders, and external partners. Auxiliary Directors often need to build and maintain positive relationships to ensure the successful delivery of services and achieve organizational goals. Situated in the middle of the organization, Auxiliary Directors work on many fronts—they are “in the middle” of everything.

  • Professional Development: Consider opportunities for professional development and growth within the organization. Assess how the Auxiliary Director role aligns with your long-term career goals and aspirations. Once you understand how the role is defined at a school, consider what professional development you will need to be successful. Keep in mind that due to the complexity of the role, it is not unusual for someone seeking this role to need support to grow skill sets in certain areas.

  • Organizational Culture: Evaluate the organizational culture and values to determine if they align with your own principles and beliefs. Consider whether you'll thrive in the work environment and if the organization's mission and vision resonate with you. Is the auxiliary department viewed positively at the school? Does the role have support? Is senior leadership visibly championing the value of auxiliary?

  • Independent School Setting: Auxiliary often functions as a business center within a mission-driven school setting. Sometimes the priorities for the auxiliary department may be adjacent to, or even different from, the school’s overall priorities. Every school is unique, but there are common elements that characterize independent schools. If you are not familiar with how independent schools function and work, do some research about the environment you are entering.

By carefully considering how auxiliary exists within the school and assessing your own qualifications and career objectives, you can determine if applying for an Auxiliary Director position is the right step or match for you.