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A Day in the Life of a Student Accommodation Manager

Camille Parsons, Business Development Manager for Parcel Locker Solutions at Parcel Pending by Quadient tells us about her experiences as a student accommodation manager.

What does a day in the life of a student accommodation manager look like?

I remember being asked what my job involves on quite a few occasions and honestly, I don’t think even the lengthiest of job descriptions would cover it.

I first joined the PBSA sector 10 years ago on a temporary contract in an accounts team and ended up as a multi-site manager.  Although I have moved into a new role, having worked in city teams for over 5 years I have a deep level of appreciation and respect for all student accommodation managers, and their wider teams.

There are always aspects of the job out of your control; the age and condition of the building, and subsequently the maintenance challenges of the properties. And of course the stream of students who pass through for all, or part of their time at university. No matter what, the one constant is the team of people running the accommodation day in, day out. Resident satisfaction surveys will tell you it’s not about how new or expensive the building is, it’s always about the people.

There are hundreds of amusing, and sometimes baffling stories that come from working as a student accommodation manager. And some that really test your patience. Claims of ‘Cannabis flavoured air freshener’, ‘Raveaggedon’, or the immediate need to relocate 200 students into hotels in London on a busy Friday afternoon after a power cut.  And of course, an entire catalogue of animal-related dramas including a support cat needing a support cat, having to herd a snake on the loose or coax down a peacock from the roof. But as many as there are to make you laugh, there are also extremely serious and critical incidents that no amount of training can truly prepare you for. Student accommodation teams must be dynamic, flexible, willing, and ready to deal with anything that comes their way, at any time.

The student property sector has evolved unrecognisably in the last 10 years. There is a greater emphasis on student well-being, addressing loneliness, preparing students for successful careers and offering value for money in today’s economic climate.  To this day I am gaining an even broader understanding of the importance of student accommodation teams. Every building I visit, manager I talk to and event, conference or panel I attend; the same sentiment is echoed: residents want and need that personal interaction. During a panel at the recent Place North West Education Property and PBSA event, the discussion included looking at what campuses of the future should look like. Across the board, it was agreed that supporting the well-being of students was paramount.

One of the main issues for today’s accommodation providers is ensuring their teams have time to focus on those highest-value tasks whilst not falling behind on others. For example, dealing with the consequences of growing parcel deliveries. With hundreds of students and increasing parcel volumes, offices and receptions often limit the time for student parcel collection to avoid overwhelm. Dealing with drivers delivering to the wrong locations, parcels being lost, stolen or misplaced, and tailgaters accessing accommodation blocks, all waste valuable time that could be put to better use. In my new role, it’s great to be able to provide a solution that gives student accommodation teams some relief from these frustrations.

Parcel Pending by Quadient smart lockers are a simple way for student accommodation managers to automate the parcel management process. The lockers keep parcels safe until the student can retrieve their parcel at a time that suits them – with 24/7 access. Importantly taking the stress and manual process away from staff and giving them back time to focus on all the other tasks that could transform the student experience for the better.

When I think back to my time as a student accommodation manager, automating parcel management on campus with a smart parcel locker would have saved our team hours every day, allowing us to focus on tackling the important student-facing tasks that helped to provide those important touchpoints. And of course, dealing with the funny but chaotic challenges we come to laugh at.

I would absolutely love to hear the funniest stories or situations you or your teams have found yourselves in which certainly wasn’t in your job descriptions!
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Camille Parsons Business Development Manager

Camille is a Business Development Manager for Parcel Pending by Quadient covering South West and Ireland. She has 8 years experience in PBSA Operations managing sales and 24/7 service of 1600 beds across 6 properties. Plus 2 years experience in Amazon Logistics in an XL site throughout the pandemic monitoring 500 drivers daily to deliver up to 100k of parcels per day.