One of the most hair-raising concepts for higher education personnel is the mid-year SA job hunt. As we near the middle of the year, some of you are likely graduating or simply searching for new opportunities. You may find that it is hard to land your dream job right away. If that’s the case, then I hope reading this will instill a bit of hope for the journey ahead.
A Bright Beginning
When I finished my master’s program in May of 2015 and accepted my first full-time position, I felt like I was on top of the world. I was accepted into my Ph.D. program and my husband and I started renovating the fixer upper we purchased that summer. Later in the fall semester, we had a series of serious conversations.“Who will watch our kids when we travel?” and “Are there opportunities to grow here for both of us?” were the top questions. After weighing the pros and cons of staying put, we made the decision to rip the bandaid off and leave town. My husband was fortunate to receive a job offer by the end of January. I, on the other hand, was petrified of what others called the impossible mid-year SA job hunt.
The Mid-Year SA Job Hunt
When I told my boss that we were leaving our beloved college town, I sobbed. I tried really hard to keep it together because I didn’t want her to see me like that, but it happened anyway. I left behind a job I loved, my Ph.D. program, and that cute fixer upper we had put so much energy into. We moved into my in-laws’ place to be closer to family and my husband’s new job. I was fortunate enough to land a part-time coordinator position at a well-known community college and learned a ton there, but continued searching for the perfect full-time position between January and mid-July.
My former boss told me, “Don’t freak out about finding a job until August gets here.” As often as I reminded myself of her words over the next 8 months, I still freaked out. When I started the job search, I applied to anything that I was qualified for. Around May, I hit that “maybe I should leave higher education altogether” wall. I spent about two weeks applying to corporate recruiting positions exclusively. In mid-May, I had a student ask me why and how I got into student affairs. I remember being exhausted and giving a generic response about helping people. That night, I went home and reevaluated my purpose as an SA pro.
The Turning Point of Hope
Once I ended my pity-parade about my job search, I was able to see much more clearly. I gained readmission to my Ph.D. program to take courses over the summer, because why not? If I wasn’t working full-time all summer, I figured I might as well get myself back on track with my research goals. I started applying only to jobs that interested me, would help me sharpen specific skills, provide me with new experiences, and relate to my initial reason for pursuing the field. I ended up withdrawing a dozen applications, saying “no thank you” to some opportunities, and undoubtedly caused myself some unnecessary anxiety in the process. By the end of July, the patience and determination had paid off — I accepted an offer for my dream job.
The Moral of the Story?
Don’t lose hope. You are allowed to feel overwhelmed, nervous, and worried, but do not give up and do not lose hope. As you check out websites, muddle through applications, and wait for the *magic* call, remember why you chose this field. You may not find a job right away, but don’t freak out yet and do not take a job that isn’t a good fit for you. I urge you to look for opportunities to grow, to learn, and to give yourself a break on this journey.
Are you currently or soon-to-be on the SA job hunt? Comment below with your experiences and tips for others in their mid-year endeavors!
> BONUS <
Podcast With Quint Geis on #SAGrad, Life, and Job Searching