For many second year graduate students, the season of job searching feels like it is quickly approaching. People may be feeling all types of things at this point – excitement, apprehension, jealousy, panic, and more. Students in a cohort or those with close colleagues in the field may also have another layer added to their job search process – interactions with others also engaged in job searching at the same time.
Two of my colleagues at the University of Connecticut, Lisa Famularo and Emily Fiagbedzi, recently facilitated a conversation through the UConn HESA2HESA professional development series about the job search with our cohort of 19 students. This was a tremendous opportunity for us to come together before we started getting into a potentially stressful time in our final semester. My three main takeaways from our conversation were a great starting place for our cohort to cultivate a culture of support, rather than competition, during this process.
Talk about norms for the job search and cohort dynamics
Our cohort engaged in a valuable community dialogue to discuss the job search. We decided that we wanted to share resources and strategies for finding the right professional position. We also talked about how we can best support each other, collectively and individually, and how people are interested in sharing (or not sharing) their progression in the job search. These dialogues also resulted in a shared online work space. We now have a common place to add resources such as job search engines, templates for job application organization, advice articles for job searching, and more.
Be respectful of individual wants and needs
Not every person in your cohort or group will be interested in sharing and supporting each other at the same level. Our group’s interests ranged from wanting check-ins and updates at the beginning of classes to sharing information on search parameters so that colleagues can pass along job postings that could be of interest. Some folks wanted to keep their current status in the job search and updates to smaller support circles or with people outside of our cohort. Know that the way you want supported in the job search process can look very different than your neighbor’s – and that’s ok! Remember to respect folks’ needs and desires the same way that you hope they respect yours.
Support each other as your tightest network in the field
Finally, cohort members and colleagues in graduate programs can often be one of the largest ready-made networks that you have when entering the field of student affairs! These are the folks who were with you through the long haul of graduate programs and will often be a listening ear for questions, a connection at other institutions, and colleagues that you reconnect with throughout your time in the field. Alumni of your program or folks connected to your institution can also be an extension of that network. Lisa and Emily coordinated an alumni advice letter program with other UConn HESA alum from past year’s of cohorts. These individuals were forthcoming with advice, strategies, and a willingness to help our cohort make connections in the field. Utilize the networks that you built and never forget to use that support system now and in the future.
These takeaways were a result of open and honest conversations about what our cohort wanted the job search process to look like for our group. I applaud our colleagues in UConn HESA for facilitating dialogue around a potentially touchy subject that is not always discussed in graduate programs. To all the folks currently or getting ready to job search in the field – warm wishes for the best of luck throughout your journey!
This post is part of the Emerging SA Pro series following four awesome people: Michelle, Sara, and Thalia. Join us as they blog monthly about a year in their journey as a new SA Pro or SA grad. We are proud to help them share their stories.