So it’s finally here, the final countdown of your last semester. There’s just one little thing left to do, the SA job hunt has to begin. I remember the struggle bus all too well. I was in your shoes last January, and it was tough juggling coursework, an assistantship, while trying to keep my sanity from careening off a cliff. And yet, on top of that, I was expected to have enough time to find a full-time job? #byefelicia
Grad school is rough business, but the job hunt doesn’t have to be if you go about it strategically. Here are some unconventional tips I found to be helpful during my job search.
1) Know what kind of job you really want
This seems trite, but have you actually sat down to think about what kind of job do you really want? Beyond functional area, beyond institutional type, think about the specific role/responsibilities, the type of boss, and kind of culture that will allow your talents to shine. Like many grads in student affairs programs, the work experience you had prior, may have been entry-level, non-directional kind of jobs, and if so, now is the time to set yourself onto the career path you want. As a result, you will be able to filter through job positions as well as ask more thoughtful questions during the interview phase.
2) Maximize Conference Season
Many of you belong to ACPA/NASPA/other area specific associations, and even on a grad budget, you should try your best to attend the national conferences. They are full of fantastic opportunities to job-hunt, and I’m not just talking about CareerCentral or TPE. Volunteer during the convention, join knowledge communities/commissions/ committees, as well as to try and attend receptions for the institutions you want to work for (though beware that some are by invite only, and believe me, it’s awkward to crash them). Getting involved with any of these options is a great way to get connected to individuals who might work in your ideal career. Going about it this way also takes down the stress of the cold turkey networking approach because you can bond over your common cause.
3) Use networks to gather intelligence on positions to inform your search
Believe it or not, people in your network usually have the inside scoop on what the office or department is truly like, all you have to do is ask. The benefit of using your network is that you can discover whether a position is going to suit your needs beyond what the job description or an interview can tell. I used this tactic for a job I thought I really wanted, and as it turned out, my would-be supervisor was known to micro manage, even though when I was told differently during my interview.
There are many more tips I could share, but these few I’ve offered are extremely feasible to accomplish right now, so good luck, and feel free to connect with me if you’d like. Happy hunting, and may the odds be ever in your favor!
This post is part of our #SACareer series, addressing careers in student affairs, careers outside of student affairs, and the work of career services professionals. Read more about the series in Jake Nelko’s intro post. Each post is a contribution by a member or friend of the Commission for Career Services from ACPA. Our organization exists to benefit the careers of career services professionals, student affairs professionals, and anyone supporting students in the career endeavors. For more information about how to get involved with the Commission for Career Services or the #SACareer blog series, contact Jake Nelko at firstname.lastname@example.org.
> BONUS <
Podcast With Danny Malave on New Professional Retrospective on the Job Search