Sarah Slife has a passion for what she does — and it’s resulted in an impressive tenure with Campus Advantage. After beginning her career as a Community Assistant, she held a number of community positions across the portfolio, including Assistant Manager at The Beacon in Auburn, Alabama, and Property Manager at NORA and NOLAN in Seattle. It wasn’t until a run-of-the-mill training that she set her sights on a career in management systems — and a real future with Campus Advantage.
Sarah’s inquisitive nature and passion for helping others allows her to provide system training, implementation, and support to both site and corporate staff members in a way that makes their lives easier. Read on to learn more about her role as a Systems Specialist, what motivates her to come to work every day, and how she loves to spend her free time.
What is your professional background?
I actually started with Campus Advantage as a Community Assistant back in 2017. From there, I became a leasing agent, then assistant manager, a leasing manager, a property manager, an operation specialist, and then management systems. So ultimately, just working my way through the positions at a variety of different CA communities. I’ve worked at The Beacon and West & Wright in Auburn, The Soto in Eugene, and NOLAN and NORA in Seattle!
What first attracted you to work for Campus Advantage?
Originally, it was the rent discount and short commute! But I think ultimately the reason I decided to stay with Campus Advantage is because it gave me a lot of job satisfaction. I think when you’re growing up, there are not many kids who would say student housing is their dream job. But when I started working for Campus Advantage in college, I realized that maybe your dream job isn’t about a title or an industry you always thought that you might work in. It’s more about, “Does my job meet the things that I need to be satisfied in my role?” And Campus Advantage gave me all those things. I am satisfied with a job that allows me a lot of problem-solving, gives me a lot of freedom to do a variety of roles in a creative way, and puts me in a position to help people. Those are all things that I look for — and when I started working for Campus Advantage, I quickly realized all those things are met with this company.
Tell us a little bit about your current role.
As a Systems Specialist, our department is responsible for, well, managing the systems! I spend my days solving support requests, helping with training items, and right now assisting with the migration between RealPage to Entrata. So I’m involved with a lot of the back-end stuff with the system, but it also involves knowing what people at our communities are going through. If they’re encountering any issues, I help to alleviate those problems, and I also try to proactively fix issues so the system runs smoother for them.
What three words best describe you (inside or outside of work)?
Compassionate – I care a lot about people, and I always want to see what I can do to make somebody’s life easier.
Inquisitive – If an unfamiliar topic ever comes up, I am researching it, asking questions, reading about it, or watching YouTube videos for like four days straight. I want to know everything about everything.
Open –I realized it was important to be open about my life and things that I’m going through because that can make somebody else feel more comfortable in their experience.
If you had to choose one core value that best represents you, what would it be and why?
For a long time, I thought Intelligence was my core value, but over time, it’s kind of changed to Passion. I think at the end of the day, the longer you work somewhere, it all just boils down to passion. It comes down to loving and caring about what you do and the people you do it for.
How would you describe the Campus Advantage culture?
Collaborative – One of the things that I love about Campus Advantage is it doesn’t matter what department you’re in, what position you’re in, or what community you’re in, you’re working with people across the country at different levels, and your ideas are heard. A Community Assistant in one state can have a great idea and that gets implemented throughout the company.
Dedicated – I think all our employees — as well as Campus Advantage as a whole — are dedicated to making the resident’s life the best it can be. We really make sure our residents feel like this is their home and they can establish a community; not just renting an apartment for a year. For our employees, CA is dedicated to making sure they feel supported.
Evolving – I think we have an evolving culture. We evaluate where we’re at, where the state of the world is at, and we evolve and change to make sure we’re meeting the needs of our residents and our employees. We’re not afraid of change. It’s not, “Well this is how we’ve always done it.” Instead, it’s ”OK, we might’ve done it this way, but these are the new needs that we need to be satisfying. How can we change to make sure we’re meeting those?”
Thinking about your most successful peers and teammates, what characteristics do they share?
They’re definitely dedicated. Without a doubt. They are dedicated to making sure Campus Advantage’s employees, residents, and partners are all having the best experience with the company. They’re also identifying areas of growth within the company and making sure we are filling those gaps. I would also say they’re supportive to both the people they’re helping and also their peers.
What is one of your favorite moments with Campus Advantage so far?
Oh, there are so many! A personal favorite moment would be my promotion into being a Systems Specialist because that was something I’d always really worked toward. That ties into what I would say was the most impactful moment in my career, back when I was a leasing agent. Kim Lewis, who works for our Management Systems department, came to the community for on-site training. At that point, I didn’t know what my career or future looked like. I remember she gave this amazing training and I went up to her afterward and said, “How do I become you as a person?” It was really in that moment that I realized I saw myself having a future with Campus Advantage and knew what I wanted to do.
What motivates you to get up for work every day?
The people. And I know that’s a cheesy answer! I get a lot of personal and job satisfaction from feeling like I helped somebody. It’s just the best feeling. I know that every single day when I wake up and come to work, I have a day full of helping people. There are always going to be questions, training opportunities, learning opportunities, and problems to solve, and I love all of that.
What do you like to do when you’re not working?
In your mind, picture what a 90-year-old lady does during the day. That is probably what I am doing. I love hanging out with my two cats, Merlin and Violet — I am a cat lady — as well as my bearded dragon, Princess Fiona. Someone had moved out of an apartment and left her behind, but now she lives her best life with me in my home and office.
I also love to start crafts, but I never finish them, so I have about a thousand different projects that are halfway done throughout my house. I like doing crossword puzzles, I like doing normal puzzles. And I like to watch reality television — specifically Top Chef — when I want to decompress from the day.
If your life had a soundtrack, name some songs that would be on it?
I’m going to go with “Unwritten” by Natasha Bedingfield. You hear it and you’re like, “Let me roll my car windows down and blare it and sing at the top of my lungs out of tune.” It also has good life advice. I would also put “Float On” by Modest Mouse in the same exact category. I think those two songs would be on my soundtrack.