Landing on My Feet

My name is Lauren Kaplan and I graduated from the University of South Florida, Tampa, Florida with my BA in Communications in May 2008 and my Masters in College Student Affairs in May, 2010. I came to USF as a transfer student from Valencia College in Orlando, Florida. My time as an undergraduate and graduate student has allowed me to work in a variety of student and academic affairs departments.

I currently work at Valencia College in Orlando, Florida in Student Development (Student Activities) as a Student Development Advisor. I coordinate and advise Valencia Volunteers, Student Leaders, SGA, and plan and coordinate events on campus. My institution is a place where I am gaining a lot of experience and growth. The professionals I work with are helping me grow and develop my skills. I love to go to work everyday and that’s a big deal.

Since graduating with my Masters in May, 2010 and job searching, it has been important to me to keep my resume active. So, I took part-time positions working as an assistant to an Area Coordinator for the Housing and Residence Life Department at the University of Central Florida and as an Admissions Clearance Assistant for the Office of Student Conduct at the University of Central Florida.

Upon graduating from my master’s program in May 2010, I embarked on a job searching journey. My job searching journey began during my last semester (Spring, 2010) of graduate school when I attended with my graduate school cohort The NASPA Placement Exchange in Chicago, Illinois.

For those of you not familiar with The NASPA Placement Exchange (TPE), it is a conference that takes place before the annual conference of NASPA begins. The Placement Exchange takes place over a period of four days where current graduate students from various graduate student affair programs and student affair professionals have the opportunity to interview with employers from different institutions from across the country. You can pre-schedule interviews before you arrive at The Placement Exchange or you can schedule while you’re in attendance. Just because you send your resume and cover letter to an institution before you arrive does not guarantee, though, that you will receive an offer to interview at placement. You can find the position postings by registering with The Placement Exchange website.

While attending the NASPA TPE in spring of 2010, I kept an open mind and heart the entire time. Prior to attending the NASPA TPE in Chicago, I pre-scheduled interviews with various schools across the country. The positions were mostly for residence life as that tends to be the main positions posted on the TPE job posting website. As a graduate student, I looked at TPE at the time as a great course on how to interview for higher education positions. As a result of those interviews, I did not receive any on campus interviews. However, I was okay with the outcome because I knew that my first TPE was an opportunity to learn how to interview.

Since TPE 2010, I have had eight on campus interviews and dozens of phone interviews. I am always the candidate, never the hire. It’s very humbling to be called for an on-campus or phone interviews. I truly consider it an honor to be picked out of the 1,000’s of resumes. At the time, it just would of been nice to be able to call an institution my home of employment.

Last year, March 2012, I decided to attend TPE in Phoenix, Arizona. This time around, I knew what to expect and how to navigate my way through the interview process. I made it a point to network and connect with student affair professionals. I decided to stay for the NASPA conference; this would be my first NASPA conference so I took this opportunity to further put myself out into the world of student affairs and attend sessions on topics I wanted to know more about. Both TPE and NASPA conferences were a wonderful experience.

As a result of this job searching journey or ‘marathon’ for short, I would like to help other graduate students or current student affair job seekers along in this process. I am not ashamed of my story for it only makes me a stronger professional who understands the job searching process. Finally, I will be attending NASPA this March not has a job seeker, but as a student affairs professional and I couldn’t be more prouder.

Lauren Kaplan 

Student Affairs - the First Years

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