The Types of TPE

Job searching and conferences are likely at the forefront of many minds. My Twitter feed is full of job search tips and conference buzz. It is one of my favorite times of the year, especially because I am on the other side and will be interviewing candidates at The Placement Exchange (TPE) rather than the one being interviewed. Oshkosh Placement Exchange (OPE) just wrapped up and C3 at ACPA is in full force, and believe it or not we are about a week away from TPE. This time last year I felt well prepared after talking to folks who interviewed in the past and participated in a mock TPE. Close friends from my cohort were also attending, and we all prepared and had very different (though all successful) experiences. 

I am writing this post to urge you not to compare yourself to other folks in your cohort during the job search, especially with TPE. Though it can feel competitive, this is about you. Yes, you! The kind and caring student affairs professional who spends so much time taking care of other people. It is time to focus on what you are looking for and stick to it. There are a lot of factors playing into a job search, and I understand this first hand because of my partner’s career.  However, others searching have different needs and wants. 

Interviews on the Hour Every Hour- I had many at TPE, but not every time slot was filled. This was extremely important for me, because I needed to reflect and prepare for the next interview and spend my breaks checking my mailbox to see if I had second round interviews. My cohort best friend did, and it worked incredible well for her. She thrived off meeting such a large number of folks in a short amount of time. She is an extrovert; I am a borderline introvert/extrovert. 

Extrovert vs. Introvert- Fear not introverts! You too can be extremely successful at TPE. I was grateful for the individual interviews and the time I spent with employers at their tables. You might need to take a few deep breaths when you walk into the giant space, but it was extremely comforting to know you only have to sit in a large group and get to meet more one-on-one with folks. My second warning for the introverts is the evening socials you get invited to by different institutions. You just spent the entire day talking about yourself, so it might feel like you need a break. Power on! If you are at all interested in the job attend the social. Spend time with smaller groups of people talking, but make sure you find those folks who interviewed you and talk to them too. 

Preparation- Be confident in what you already know, but prepare for each interview. Some of my friends had flash cards and giant spreadsheets. Make sure to organize in a way in which you feel prepared and confident. Try on your interview clothes before you leave to ensure they still fit. This might seem strange, but try not to overthink the interviews. Some folks might appear outwardly more prepared than you are, but try to remember everyone prepares differently.

Networking- All of TPE is like one giant networking opportunity. While you are waiting for an interview, introduce yourself to the person sitting next to you. They might go to grad school where you are hoping to get a job.

Sleep- Even you extroverts out there will be tired. If you decide to stay out late be aware employers will likely be going to some of the same places. Have fun but remember you are the job seeker. Try and get as much sleep as possible.
Above all, be yourself. You will hear this about a million times, and you might get annoyed with hearing this phrase. However, if you are not your authentic self it is likely you will end up in a place that is not a good fit. Sure you want to impress people, but what is impressive is owning your story, talking about your passion, articulating your professional experiences, and knowing your philosophy on student affairs. If you are a graduate student you spent the last 1-2 years reflecting and discussing these topics with your peers. Be confident in your ability and enjoy your experience! 

Stefanie Lucas

Student Affairs - the First Years

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