Preparing to be a professional in Higher Education Student Affairs is an exciting time. You’ve almost completed your graduate work, and are ready to start your job search.
What should you be doing to prepare for your big jump?
Before starting your job search, ask
- What did I like most/least about my graduate experience?
- Do I like working one on one with people or would I rather work with groups?
- Am I a good self-manager?
- Where do I want to live for the next few years?
- What I am looking for in a supervisor?
- What I am good at and what challenges me?
These are the questions that will revolve around your job interviews. Have a good grasp of this information, with some great examples and stories to back them up.
Realize that your best resources are the people already in the positions that you aspire to fill.
Utilize them throughout the entire process. They will be more than happy to help you, because, believe it or not, you cannot do this all on your own! Find a mentor or two to help you with the process and share your goals with others to allow them to cheer you on! Is there anyone on Twitter that you may have connected with that could help?
When you Google yourself, what comes up?
Now, more than ever, it is important to take control of your personal brand and online identity. Have you created a LinkedIn Profile? What kind of pictures have been tagged in Facebook? Are your Tweets representative of who you are both personally and professionally? Create a Google Profile to tie all of these things together!
JUMPING FROM GRAD STUDENT TO PROFESSIONAL
There are some basic points of information that second year Graduate Students should be thinking about:
Your first year as a professional, work load wise, will be more than you think.
With no more classes, you’ll be expected to take on a lot your first year. Think of it as a test of your limits as you enter the Higher Education work force. Plus, your new supervisor will want to know what you can handle, and so will you! Don’t think things will slow down for you after grad school!
Earning “respect” as a Professional is different than a Graduate Student
Depending on your Internship/Assistantship/Fellowship, you’ve probably made some close knit connections with some students. While you may want to continue this trend, many New Professionals make the mistake of “being liked” to earn the respect of their new students. As a New Professional, your work effort and productivity will have to suffice. Building connections and relationships are not out of the question, but the extent with how deep you build them must always be placed in check.
Finding / Being a Mentor
As part of you job search, a goal should be to find a mentor in your current adviser or in your department/division (e.g. Dean of Students, Assistant Vice President, etc.). This person will help keep you on track as you begin your professional career. Having monthly meetings with this mentor to set and track goals will be extremely helpful.
On the other hand, you will most likely be sought after AS a Mentor. Be cautious who you take on as mentees, as this is huge time commitment. In your first year, you may want to limit this until you figure out your work systems and gain an understanding on how your new job really works.
You finally can eat things OTHER than Mac and Cheese! But with more money, ultimately come more bills and responsibilities. Once you secure your first job, within the first few weeks:
- Meet with your Retirement/Benefits specialist. Aggressivelysave as much money as you can in your retirement while you are still young. Don’t worry, if you need to change this process, you can do it easily.
- Establish and stick to a budget and debt repayment schedule. It is important as you begin to repay any loans or credit card debt you incurred during Graduate School (or Undergrad). Also, as you move to your new destination, thinking about first/last months rent on your new apartment, plus any other moving expenses you will need can be stressful. The best thing you can do is prepare as best you can.
Taking care of YOU!
What do you do now to take care of yourself? Gym? Going out on weekends with friends? Family? Whatever it is, is important to continue doing it and adding more time as you become a professional. If “YOU
Time” isn’t scheduled now, start creating that habit, as it will be the best thing you can do for your overall well being, both personally and professionally.
What other advice would you give our second year graduate students? Is there anything that I have not listed here or things you would challenge? Good luck to you all as you embark on your last semester in Graduate School!