Marta Cortés, director of the the UOC Internship and Mobility Services
Marta Cortés has directed the UOC Internship and Mobility Services for some months now. She took the post at a difficult time, during lockdown, but saw this as an exciting challenge. Over the years she has been at the UOC, she has worked in several departments and thus gained a broad overview of the university, which she wants to continue to expand. According to Cortés, the working day at the UOC is notable for its flexibility, good atmosphere and the trust shown by management.
How do you describe your working day to your family?
My kids are still young and I've always told them that mum works in a school where there are grown-ups like mum and dad and that I, along with many other people, help students so they don't have any problems and can use their time to study peacefully. I explain it like this because they are very young, but also because I think, regardless of one's team and role, as a UOC employee you always have your student service hat on. It's part of our DNA.
Who do you work with at the UOC? What is the working atmosphere and collaboration with your colleagues like?
Very good, I'm very lucky because I manage a team which, if notable for anything, is that it's made up of people who are very empathetic, very decisive and very cheerful. We work and foster a very good climate, which not only helps us stay happy but also achieve excellent results. In general, there's a great working atmosphere at the UOC and if there isn't then we try to build one. We take great care over how we do things, showing respect, working contentedly.
What's the best thing about your work at the UOC?
There are loads of things, but maybe what has made me the happiest is having a lot of flexibility, and having the trust and support of my managers. I've always been able to balance my family and work life. This has largely been thanks to the institution, which has encouraged this balance, and I believe it has been pioneering in this sense, but also the managers I've had, who have trusted in me and given me freedom, autonomy to work flexibly, but always meeting the required goals.
How did you start working at the UOC?
I was studying Pedagogy at Ramon Llull University. At that time, online education was not that normal and we were studying the case of the UOC, because it was like a utopia made reality. I knew I had to join the UOC so I found a non-curricular internship and entered as an intern, after which I joined the prior studies assessment team. I moved to a teaching management department, to the prior studies assessment team (validations). I think I joined at just the right time, because the UOC had grown dramatically and the management teams had to design processes, define them, put on their customer service hat, the customer in our case being the student. Furthermore, I saw that their work involved a lot of initiative, autonomy and participation... If you want to provide value, the UOC is the perfect place to do it.
How would you define your career at the UOC?
I had the chance to work with different teams, such as alongside Alumni in a new department, and I've recently been with UOC X as the academic coordinator of the vocational training offer with the Jesuits, where I was able to see the workings of non-university qualifications, which have another dynamic that differs from the regulatory framework for officially recognized qualifications. Recently, this internship management position, where I had been working for years as an administrator, became available, so I joined as a manager. In fact, I started working on 4 March, a few days before lockdown. Working in different teams in the organization for so many years gives you a broad overview of its activities, which is great. Nevertheless, I still have lots to learn.
Can you remember a special day or moment at the UOC you are particularly fond of?
I've had lots of fun moments, but there's one in particular which always comes to mind, from when I first joined. I was studying Pedagogy and I saw the UOC as the new world of education and Gabriel Ferraté was its creator. I thought that, if it weren't for him, the world might not have the concept of online education that it does today. At the Barcelona Support Centre we organized the Saló de l'Ensenyament (Education Trade Fair) and I remember I went to the UOC stand and met him there. I can't remember exactly what we talked about, because it was some years ago, but just seeing him was like seeing a rock star, in this case an education star! At that moment, I felt I'd achieved my goal.
What would you highlight about the UOC compared to other organizations?
In terms of work and family balance, at least in this country, I'd say the UOC is highly advanced. I feel very free, if you want to contribute, you can; if you have autonomy and enjoy challenges, no one will tell you what you have to do; you can forge your own path. I think this makes it very different from other organizations which still hold a traditional view of the worker's role.
Would you recommend working at or with the UOC to someone? Why?
Definitely, as long as they enjoy teamwork, bear in mind they can't do things on their own, that everything needs to be agreed on, shared, conveyed, and they are up for a challenge. If you enjoy all that, then the UOC is indeed the perfect place. Furthermore, I'd say the UOC has one very important value: the right to make a mistake. It is an institution that does not punish errors, but where we all understand mistakes as part of learning and something that helps us improve.
What do you think a person needs if they are to work at the UOC?
I think you can be what you want to be, because we respect all temperaments. Difference is highly respected and, indeed, valued, because we all have important things to contribute. Above all, you should want to be able to contribute. Do you feel like contributing? Well this is the place for you! It's not about waiting for others to tell you what to do, it's more about you proposing and creating ideas, and you'll undoubtedly find the moment and person to help you develop them.
What do you think the UOC's values are?
Commitment, respect, transparency, trust... the ones we've talked about, which I really think are engraved in people, and they are also the values they have created. We are the institution. At the UOC there are many people, like me, who have been here for years. So these values have been built by them. At the UOC you have to work as a team, all the parts fit together: There's no way you can do things on your own!
In your opinion, the UOC is...
My home, that's how I feel. Professionally and personally, I have grown at the UOC. When I joined, I still had not graduated in Pedagogy, then I specialized further through the Master's Degree in Education and ICT (E-learning), after which I got married, had children, and carried on developing professionally. In my opinion, the place has a real family atmosphere, where I feel valued, respected and protected. I feel happy, so I have never had the need to leave. Whatever the case, in the end life is a journey, everything contributes to it and you carry it with you. If one day I am no longer at the UOC, I'll have left with a bag full of the people at the UOC, my experiences at the UOC and everything I've learned at the UOC.