With spring, campuses come alive. The grass turns green under a newly warm sun and students are suddenly everywhere. This is a busy time for student affairs professionals; we’re working long days and tight schedules to fit programs, meetings, and events into an already packed schedule preceding spring break.
For some SA grad students and professionals, spring is also the time of job searching. Add scanning through lists of posts, conducting research, networking, and creating resume and cover letter construction on top of an already busy schedule and you’ll find both excitement and stress.
While no longer an #sagrad, I can empathize. Last year, in my final semester of graduate school, I accepted a 1-year fellowship contract. In spring 2012 I applied to over 30 jobs, completed over 12 interviews (phone and on-campus) and ultimately whittled the list down to my current position, the opportunity that seemed to fit best. It was a consuming and challenging, yet exhilarating, time.
One year later, my fellowship wanes and I’m back to the search. My friends and family members do not understand the higher education timeline or process, and the concept of The Placement Exchange or C3 are completely baffling to the non-student affairs world. For those of us job seeking within this unique system, we’re swamped.
There’s something wonderful about a job search. The process is both draining and exciting. If done right, applying and interviewing for positions can give prospective candidates an opportunity to both reflect on and articulate their skills, accomplishments, and new ideas. Even through job interviews for positions that turned out to be a less-than-ideal fit, I’ve been able to network and to learn more about different institutions and, in turn, myself. The job search is a seemingly never-ending process of search and reflection.
A job search comes with the opportunity to consider new environments, institutions, and locations. Yet, applicants must also weigh how each of these new opportunities will affect and change their current lifestyle. We must recognize our priorities and follow a combination of both our head and our heart. Ask yourself what (and who) matters most in your life. What can you compromise and what must you have?
For those job searching, now is a stressful time. A job search is incredibly difficult to balance with an already challenging student affairs schedule. Yet, it will pay off. See each position as an opportunity and apply strategically and thoughtfully. The experience will be a learning process and I wish all who are searching good luck in finding their paths.
Do you have #SASearch tips to share with others? How do you manage your stress level while on the job market?
Katie is currently a Career Advising Fellow at Elon University in Elon, NC. She completed her master’s degree in higher education administration at the University of Rochester in 2012 and has personal interests in professional development and careers, sports, reading, writing, and travel.