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Student Affairs Job Search: Questions and Challenges
January 3, 2012 - 5:25pm

In starting this new year, I've decided to hijack my blog and create a series of posts about the Student Affairs job search. While the job search for Student Affairs professionals does require a certain amount of technology, these posts will focus more on the process of searching. With that in mind, if I miss something or you have an alternative thought, please feel free to post in the comments as I will be using your insights to build this series. Topics for this series will include: making the transition from graduate school to fulltime professional, personal branding, conducting a search using technology (and people!), Student Affairs search firms, and thoughts on dealing with things that don't "fit."

For many in Student Affairs, the new year signals the beginning of a job search. Graduate students in Student Affairs programs typically find themselves with the realization that they are almost done and that a job search needs to begin sooner than later. The largest Student Affairs career events, C3 and TPE, take place in March. And, the flow of new jobs starts to pick up after the holiday season. It's time to get started.

If this will be your first Student Affairs job search, what are some of your initial questions and challenges? What do you need to know in order to feel comfortable with conducting your search? For seasoned professionals, what advice do you have for folks who are making the leap from graduate school into a fulltime position? How has the Student Affairs job search been impacted by social media? Do business cards matter? How many job applications is enough?

The most important concept that I can share with anyone who is conducting a search is that things rarely go as planned. Personally, I came into the field of Student Affairs by accident, didn't know that people had graduate degrees in Student Affairs until I was 2 years into my first Student Affairs position, and vowed to never be an academic advisor even though I eventually ended up being an academic advisor for 3 years. Some people thrive on ambiguity. I am definitely someone who lives in that space. However, for some, the unknown aspects of a search, those things that cannot be planned, will be quite frustrating and scary. That's okay. It's how you deal with your job search that matters. A lot of people will tell you how to go about your search. In my view, the "right" way to go about a Student Affairs job search is that the way that results in a job. What works for you may not work for someone else...and that's okay.

Additionally, Career Services can be a terrific resource as you conduct your search as a Student Affairs graduate student. It's so helpful that one of our functional areas in the field is all about finding a job. Set up meetings with Career Services professionals. Talk about your search process and have your resume evaluated by practitioners at your school. Interview skills tend to atrophy...mock interviews can help you regain and build up your interview skills. Remember, interviews are like speaking in get better at them with practice and preparation.

Stay tuned for my next post about the Student Affairs job search where I cover personal branding and its importance for all Student Affairs professionals.

By the way, I need to thank Shagufta Pasta for inspiring this series. She asked a question and I didn't have an answer. This series is my attempt!



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