With the end of the academic year quickly approaching, graduate students and many student affairs professionals alike find themselves in the midst of the job search. Be it your first full-time job search, searching with the hope of moving up, or a relocation, there are many points to consider. Over the years I’ve received some great advice from fellow student affairs professionals. Here are the top three pieces of best advice I’ve ever received:
An application is not accepting the position.
Do you find yourself intrigued by a job description but hesitant on location, type of institution, or the fact that the salary isn’t posted? Don’t let those things prevent you from applying. Just because you apply and/or interview for a position does not mean you have to accept should an offer come. If your application turns into an interview, you will have the chance to ask whatever questions you had as well as determine if the location and institution are a good fit for you. You might even apply for what seems to be your dream job, then arrive on campus to discover it is not what you expected. So, if you have moderate interest in something and meet most of the qualifications, it won’t hurt to go ahead and submit that application!
Come with good questions.
We’ve all probably sat through resume and interview workshops, especially those preparing to graduate. They (hopefully) all covered the importance of asking questions. What we don’t always learn, though, is what kind of questions to ask. Some awesome people along the way have shared questions to ask such as:
Is there potential for benefits such as temporary housing, a meal plan, or gym membership?
How do the institutional values impact your day-to-day work?
How would you describe the typical student at this institution?
What makes someone successful in this role?
Questions such as these will help you get a feel for campus and the administration, as well as allow you to look out for yourself and your lifestyle. Balance can be challenging in student affairs, so having a meal plan or gym pass can help you take care of yourself in order to be the best you possible. Relocation assistance is often times something institutions can assist with, so if you have a big move ahead, ask for a little help! It is also key to find out who you will be talking with during an interview. Sometimes phone interviews are conducted by one or two people, whereas on campus interviews will include several group and one-on-one conversations. Do your best to prepare questions for each group along the way.
Know your values.
Each time I’ve found myself having to search, this was the most important thing for me. If you can identify and articulate your values, it will help you not only narrow down where to apply but also to make that final decision when you have one or more offers. This can also help you know when to say no, even if you just have one offer to consider. There are times when it is better to keep looking for a great fit and place you can truly be you, than to accept a job that you are not excited for and don’t believe is the place for you. Yes, you’ve worked really hard through school and your career, but taking a part-time job to pay the bills and extending your search to find the right position might be a wiser choice than just taking a position.
Knowing your values also makes for good interview conversation and questions. If you need to arrive at 8:30am so you can get your morning run on, talk about it. If you appreciate being able to display your favorite photos in your office, look around and see what the offices of potential colleagues look like. Is it a place that faculty and staff bring families and friends to events, or where kids can come in to the office on an unexpected snow day or nanny cancellation? Sometimes these things seem like small details, but if you are going to be working there for at least a few years, they can add up into big details that affect your attitude and approach.
Regardless of the reason for your #SAsearch, spend some time carefully considering each element of the process. Ask around for tips from folks you trust, and be sure to share good advice with others! What tips and tricks have been most valuable for you? Leave them in the comments below!