The real March Madness is here!!!
It’s conference season!!!!
Which also means that the job market is open.
And as we jump into higher education’s version of free agency, I offer this advice:
R-E-L-A-X… and Reframe.
There’s a lot of energy spent these days on writing the perfect thank you card, and sharing our 5 signature strengths. I’m not saying that these concerns aren’t valid, but I AM saying that it’s time to showcase the work you’ve already done and how you’ve prepared to start or advance your career.
Let me explain. For those of you on the market (especially the first timers), we know that you’re hungry to get your foot in the proverbial door and/or move up the metaphorical ladder. It’s assumed that you had an assistantship or graduate-level training. It’s possible that you’ve already had a job. You are smart and you are capable. There’s no question that you want your first or next position.
But… can you do the work?
This is not an indictment on your competence, I’m just putting the thought out there.
Marci Walton said it best “Employers want you to be the best version of yourself. To come with your experience and knowledge and opinions. We don’t want perfection. We want a holistic sense of who you are and who you will be for our students.” And she’s spot on! We want you to be good colleagues.
But…we NEED you to be ready.
Ask yourself this: Can you reach from the space of your functional area and collaborate with other colleagues in student affairs? Can you develop productive relationships with the faculty? Can you make your colleagues better? Has your graduate work fostered a research interest that might move an office/division/institution forward? Can you adapt your work to fit an institution’s mission? Are you able to use your personal gifts and talents to beget creative programs and initiatives for your campus?
I get it, having a job is important. I have one and I love it. I make a respectable salary, I have a title, and an office. I even have business cards and an administrative assistant. I have traveled 13,304 miles, and presented at 5 national conferences in the last 13 months. I recognize that I’ve been blessed and I’m very privileged. But at the end of the day, none of that matters compared to the work I do and how I got there. There was once a time I had no real idea of how this field worked. I just knew I loved working with students and wanted the very best for them. It was only during my doctoral work that I realized the type of career I could have if I infused what I knew with what I was learning and focused on how I could contribute to higher education beyond my position. Most importantly, I accepted that if I focused on my career, job offers would come.
This is my challenge to you: don’t focus so much on getting a job that you miss the opportunity to build a career!
Good luck in the job market. I hope it is good to you. You’ve worked hard and deserve to see the effort pay off. Just be sure to take some time to see the big picture, and reflect on the journey that awaits you.