The fall semester has come to a close and the holidays have passed. While everyone was enjoying the time off, we 2nd year Student Affairs graduate students were simultaneously preparing ourselves for the job search process. Some -like myself- choose to attend The Placement Exchange (TPE) which is presented by The National Association of Student Personnel Administrators (NASPA) and The Association of College and University Housing Officers- International (ACUHO-I) and is sponsored by several partner organizations. Other students that do not attend TPE may attend The American College Personnel Association (ACPA) placement, search through Higher Ed Jobs, view institution’s websites or use other resources. There is no right or wrong way to search and we are lucky in our field to have many options. It is all about what your preference is.
The end of December is like the calm before the storm and now in January it is beginning to stir. Not many jobs for the next academic year have been posted yet, but when they do begin it will be a down pour. Preparing now is extremely important. In the spring semester we will have the task of balancing classes, assistantships, practicums, our social lives, job searching and sanity.
These 4 few tips will assure smooth sailing when the downpour begins:
- Have your resume reviewed- Utilizing the career center at your institution and the professionals within your network is a great resource. We are not in this job search alone and someone is always willing to help. These individuals have also been in our positions before and are now on the hiring side. They know what stands out and what can also get your resume thrown out. Utilize peers in your program as well as individuals outside of Student Affairs. See what questions and suggestions they have to determine what applies to you and think about how you can use it to strengthen your resume.
- Decide on your functional area- This is important when thinking about what information you’d like to highlight on your resume and how to articulate it to attract the attention you want. Generally, most departments are looking for the same skill-sets: communication, team building, ability to effectively work in a fast pace environments, flexible, organized, and basic computer knowledge. Determine what area you want to go into and research the quirks. Then line up how you can bring this to them. You’ll stand out! If you know you’d like to go into Residence Life, Student Activities or Admissions, it could be hard for you to articulate your skills when on an interview for Athletics. Being intentional is beneficial in the long run. You’ll be able to put your best foot forward when it’s something you truly want and you’ll feel more confident about it.
- Communicate with your supervisor(s) and future references- These individuals will need to be updated on what you’ve done, what you’re doing currently and where you want to go. Providing them with an updated copy of your resume along with your cover letter can be very helpful for the both of you. A job description for the position is also useful. They want to be prepared when talking to your potential employer. In addition they should be able to highlight your work with the highest regards. Schedule a 10-15 minute phone conversation to catch up with your references to plan for your future.
- Build your support system- This is probably the most important tip. Job searching is not easy when there are a million other things going on in life. Having friends, family, mentors, colleagues, to keep your spirits high is essential. Talking to everyone else in your cohort and other people who are job searching all the time will drive you insane. Job searching is not a sprint, it’s a marathon. You will reach the end with a great job! Just have patience, keep the faith and build your support system.
I wish everyone the best of luck and encourage you all to finish strong!