In the midst of the challenging yet fun job search for student affairs grads across the country, there are professionals who sit in their roles impatiently. The sophomore class (as I like to call them), are professionals who are in their first post-grad position and have occupied it for more than a year. They are the group of professionals who spend hours after work thinking about their current roles and career path. What’s next? A question often thought over by professionals during this time of year. Before you actually begin looking, which is inevitably the next step, I encourage sophomores to do some soul searching as they prepare to transfer to their next position. Following an immediate post-grad position, the job search is much more tailored and strategic.
For some of us, the thought of a job search brings sweaty palms, doubts, stress, and even tears. However, transitioning to a new job doesn’t have to cause an anxiety attack. A second search is often much more tailored to one’s individual professional interests and serves to identify key skills desired (and oftentimes, required) to advance in a particular functional area. For me, my sophomore job search was very different. While the first job search was simply a mad sprint to the finish line, the second search is more like a jog. My post-grad job search consisted of filling out sixty job applications for a variety of different roles and within a variety of different functional areas. Again, the goal was simple, ‘get employed’. The sophmore job search consisted of four applications within a specific functional area and doing work that would guide my career in a certain path. The first search can certainly take you across country, away from families and significant others. With no hesitation, you might have taken a job so that you can do what you love and get your foot in the door. The second search does not have to be a free for all; you can target a specific city, state, or region and have a good chance of securing a position within your perimeters.
In addition to using the sophmore job search to forge out a specialization in a particular functional area, it can also be a time to reinvent yourself as a student affairs professional. If you ended up in orientation or housing, but really wanted to go into greek life or student activities, now is the time! The sophomore search can often lead to positions that elevate one’s status and responsibilities—so long as your resume and experiences reflect aptitude, ability, and preparedness. Before conducting a full search I encourage my fellow sophomores to reflect on their experiences and seriously consider the following questions:
- Why am I searching?
- If I am looking for a change in responsibilities, do these opportunities lie within my current department?
- Are my current job and functional area a fit for me?
- What are my interests?
- Where do I realistically see myself in five years?
- What kinds of professional opportunities am I looking for in a next job?
- What is my resume lacking, that I am looking to gain in a second job?
- How will I explain my job transition to my third, fourth, fifth potential employers?
- Does a job transition at this point make sense? If not, why not?
- How will a transition affect me and my loved ones?
The second search will be the time to showcase your ability to be effective, goal oriented, and ambitious. All of the experiences you’ve had this far, both positive and negative, have influenced your views of student affairs, how you operate as a professional, and your views on how to improve our field. While for many it feels as though they just finished the search, time has passed, lessons have been learned, and skills have been developed. The path to the unknown future can be scary but it’s a challenge and risk worth taking. I encourage you, my sophomores, to muster up the energy and courage to be vulnerable again. Your second search will undoubtedly provide you with the professional confidence you feel you might be lacking. Once the search begins and interviews start rolling in, you will find that you have truly developed a breadth of knowledge as you re-answer questions on theory and student development. A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. So get up from your desks, get excited, start reflecting, start planning, and start applying.
> BONUS <
Podcast With Danny Malave on New Professional Retrospective on the Job Search