On Searching

During my posting hiatus, I was immersed in the job search. I had a few on-campuses and a great deal of time to sit and reflect. The search process was stressful and seemed to take many turns. Yet, now that it is concluded, I felt it important to share my thoughts here for other folks that will search or are still searching.

The (False) Hope of TPE

I attended The Placement Exchange in Indianapolis. I had an interview schedule that I was happy about and a few jobs that I was intrigued by. It was a busy three days, yet I left TPE feeling good about my experience.

TPE has a mythic lore surrounding it. No matter who you ask, you will get some opinion that mentions the importance of self-care and not to do too many interviews. Both of those bits of advice were true. What I found frustrating was the amount of folks that I spoke to, all made it sound as if TPE is where you will get your job. For me, that was not the case. TPE was great practice for interviews, but I felt the pressure to get a job from TPE and when I kept getting ‘no thanks’ emails after TPE, my stress levels skyrocketed. However, that does not mean that TPE does not work for some people. TPE was a generally positive experience and I would recommend it to anyone searching.

The On-Campus

During my search I had four on-campus visits, one of which was for a non-student affairs position. These experiences all varied, but what stayed true was the exhausting nature of the on-campus. As an introvert, having to talk about myself all day is not only taxing, but slightly stress inducing. The seemingly never ending onslaught of people talking with you and little time to take a breath alone was an experience that I don’t want to experience again.

I had hoped that the on-campuses would allow time to recharge, even for a few minutes, during the course of the day. However, that was not the standard and I would find myself hurrying to the bathroom just to be in silence.

Landing the Job

The job search is a vastly different experience for everyone who goes through it. Some are bound by geography, others by functional area. Yet, no matter what stipulations you have (or don’t have), the search is not any less challenging. The process is bumpy and an emotional roller coaster. One of my cohort-mates, describes the search as a constant state of being manic, and I find it hard to disagree with her.

After my on-campuses and the initial offer, I was ecstatic. The job that I most connected with was the on-campus I felt least confident in, yet they saw something in me that would work on their team. I could not be happier to be working there starting in July.

It is a surreal feeling, knowing I am done with the search. I don’t think it has really sunk in that I am done with graduate school and will be starting full time employment. Yet, the lessons I learned through the job search will stay with me as I advance through this field.


Reflections on #TPE2016

I currently am sitting in the hotel lounge watching the Michigan State basketball game and thinking about my experience at the Placement Exchange (TPE) the past few days. It was a whirlwind of interviews and networking for three very long days. Heading into TPE I had high expectations of imminent exhaustion and high stress. Yet, as I sit here on Sunday cheering on the Spartans, I cannot help but feel as if the narrative around TPE is a bit overblown.

I began my process at 9am on Thursday. Eight interviews lay in front of me. There were schools that I was excited to talk with and schools that I needed to learn more about. It was a full day of talking and networking. I was nervous, as this was my first real foray into the job search, which made the ‘realness’ of the job search all too tangible. I sat in the waiting area while the other individuals waiting to be picked up by their institution anxiously waited. I talked with a few candidates that I sat next to throughout the process and the anxiousness permeated all the conversations. It was good to know that others going through the same process were just as anxious as I was.

Throughout the three days, I could not help but notice how similar this process was to dating. Schools would offer candidates information packets, trinkets, and candies expressing how excited they were to meet with the candidates. If the first interview went well, the institution may invite the candidate to a social, offer a second round (think middle school ‘do you like me?’ notes), or a piece of chocolate. Again, it was a strange process with how much candidates and institutions focused on the incentives to continue the dating process that is interviews.

Overall, my process at TPE was a positive one. I left feeling excited about where I stand in a few schools processes and need to reflect more on what I want out of my first job and what is important to me. Wherever my process takes me, it is exciting to know that this process at TPE helped me clarify what is important to me and how I should continue to navigate the job search process. Best of luck to everyone searching; hopefully we land at institution that we feel truly excited about!

The Final Act

It is a strange phenomenon to be stuck mid-stride; that is what most final semester student affairs graduate students must be feeling right now as we start our final semesters of graduate school.

The feeling is incredibly difficult to explain. You feel tired, anxious, and full of energy. The possibilities of the future (the ‘post grad’ life) are endless, yet daunting. The desire to discover where you will start the next chapter of your life in just a few months is intoxicating as you become fixated with the job search process. The immense fear of those possibilities lies beneath any hopeful conversation.

Of course, the attention of the student affairs graduate student is not fully fixed on the future. The reality of the current situation is very clear to the graduate student. They still have assistantship duties, coursework, and a personal life they must continue to balance. A strong desire to finish strong and leave a positive legacy is, perhaps, the goal of the student affairs graduate student. Or, the simple desire to leave and finish the graduate school experience is at the forefront of their present mindset. Either way, this feeling of stuck mid-motion is real.

Focusing on two realities is a challenge. On the one hand, I want to devote my every waking minute to applying to jobs, preparing for interviews, and finding the right fit for my first real job. On the other hand, my attention is fixated on the job at hand… I have students I need to work with and educate. I have coursework that needs to be completed and meetings to prepare for. The balancing act has never been more of a struggle up until this moment.

Maybe that is the real test of graduate school; how you finish. All the internships, meetings, coursework, presentations, and projects have been trials for this final challenge: balancing the desire to leave and move on with the desire to finish strong and be present. How we finish, coupled with how we transition out, is what defines us.