This is a story about three people, talking about one job search process, and two out of the three having no idea what the other is talking about. The story revolves around the month of my graduation, birthday, and job search (all in the same month). My favorite part about this entire process are the interactions with my parents. They are amazing people and I owe everything to them, but they are still a little hazy on everything that accompanies my career. I’d say it’s an “evolving” understanding. Job search is the apparent culmination of their misunderstandings. I feel it is my duty to send out a few warnings and heads-ups for future job seekers:
1. Call it “College Student Development.”
I don’t know what your graduate program is called but mine is “Higher Education and Student Affairs.” That is a pretty vague title and keeps you guessing at “What does he do everyday?” So for all of my peers whose programs were not easily decipherable, I would just go with “College Student Development.” Its basically Goldie Lock’s porridge: its not too vague, easy to understand, and specific enough. The first time I referred to my area of study as College Student Development things became much clearer.
2. Have the “I know the salary is low but thats normal for entry level in this field” conversation early.
Parents are concerned and only want the best for you. Parents also believe that you are the greatest thing since pretzel M&Ms so you should be paid as such. This wasn’t an epic battle for me or anything, my parents are supportive of my choices no matter the pay, but for some parents… this can be quite the shock. Give your parents a headsup early on what starting salaries look like in Student Affairs and ensure there won’t be any huge surprises later in the process.
3. Remind your parents how many colleges and universities there are across the country.
This is especially true for us non-geographically-bound job seekers. Some parents struggle with their children being far away (mine). I remember sharing that I would be job searching all across the country and the collective gasp that followed. I made sure I knew how far away each job was and all information about nearby airports. Luckily, you can get anywhere in the country under 8 hours (thanks Wright Brothers for easing parent’s concerns nationwide).
4. Tell some stories about the students you’ve worked with and their growth
Parents want to be proud of you, so they love hearing stories about the lives you’ve affected. Our profession is one of the few who get that chance everyday. Telling your mother you’ve made someones life better is like eating a fresh Krispy Kreme doughnut – it warms the soul. It also brings everything into perspective: no matter where you go or what you do, the work done will help others, and any Mother or Father can be proud of that. Even if its done 14 hours away.
5. Be prepared to repeat all of this to any siblings or extended family.
I wan’t to take this chance to thank my family for their support and love throughout this entire process. I am lucky to have a wonderful group of people who support my ambitions. I’m happy to announce that my parents and I escaped my Job search process without any major, or even minor, fights and I’m not employed. It’s a bedtime story that I can get used to.