Wow! The whirlwind of ACPA, Osh Kosh, NASPA and regional placements is over! Many of you connected with employers at this year’s placement exchanges. You may be hoping that your next email notification or cell phone ring is the dream employer calling you with an on-campus interview offer.
What happens between the conferences and the call? You’ll have some hours of waiting and second-guessing your interview responses. Instead, you may want to try some of the strategies below. Second-guessing only helps if you learn from it, otherwise it becomes a rocking chair. (It gives you something to do, but doesn’t get you anywhere).
1) You will want to distill down which schools you ‘connected’ with during socials and the interviews. Was there a table of interviewers that immediatelymade you comfortable? Did you seem to connect with the themes of their questions? Was there a school that asked a question that you struggled with? Why? Were you invited and did you attend the school’s socials? Did you feel like you were socializing with long-lost colleagues at the event? Is there a particular mission or vision of a school or department that really spoke to you?
Contemplating some of these questions will help you preliminarily identify institutions that may be a “fit.” Fit becomes important because you will want to work somewhere you feel like you will learn and grow from the school and people around you.
2) Attending placements with a pre-determined “dream” school or position in mind is natural. I know I did. I went in thinking, I don’t know what I’ll do if I don’t get X position at Y school. Instead, I ended up connecting with an entirely different school and state – this is where I ended up working.
You want to have an open mind about the schools and positions you interviewed for during your time at the conference. Even if you really wanted an orientation position, but you connected with a school with a RD position – you may want to give that serious consideration.
When you get your foot in the door at a school – you connect with is going to give you excellent experience, the opportunity to gain skills in other areas as well the ability to connect with other opportunities at the school that may be an orientation position or a step-up in housing in a few years.
3) If a school calls you to offer an on campus interview, but you have absolutely no desire to work there. You will want to consider points one and two above.
Remember, your time and the schools’ are very valuable. If you do not think you would want to live or work there – be honest. Thank them for their consideration, but right now you are considering other opportunities.
You may think because you are not be getting any other interview offers you should jump at the chance for an on-campus. One of the hardest things to do is work at a school you do not connect with in a place where you do not want to live. This is hard on you, as well as on the school and your colleagues. You will want to factor this into your consideration.
If you accept the on campus offer, and then decide at the last minute that you do not want to go – you will need to do more than send an email to the search coordinator. You may want to call the person you were working with to make your interview arrangements. Thank them for all their time and consideration, and talk with them about your decision. You and the employer will be happy that you did. You both saved valuable time and resources.
4) While it is important to follow up on your application, you should give schools some time to get back home, get their search committees together, review all the applicants they interviewed, do follow-up phone interviews… -basically, it will take time. More time than you think it should – especially when you are on the other side waiting for the phone calls and emails to start rolling in.
Sometimes private schools can move faster in their search process than a state school. Private schools do not have state guidelines mandating search committee processes and procedures. They may be offering on-campus interviews more quickly, than their state counterparts.
It’s okay to drop an email to the people you met at the conference to let your interviewers know you are still interested – just make sure you are not overdoing it. Before hitting ‘send’ on that 12th follow-up email, you may want get some advice from a colleague or mentor.
5) Remember your job and/or grad school. Communicate with your supervisors and/or professors if you are having to head out of town on an on-campus interview during work or class. Reveal as much as you feel comfortable.
Enjoy the process! Stay positive and work with mentors and friends as you experience the adventure! You are writing a new chapter in your life – enjoy the moment.
Hollie Chessman is the Associate Director of Distributed Campus Projects at George Mason University. She is a PhD in education student whose research interests include student affairs professionals, well-being and work life balance.