Searching at a Placement Exchange

By Mairead Kiernan
@Parade_WithAn_M
maireadkiernan.wordpress.com

I think I’ve mentioned this before, but in case I haven’t, I will be attending The Placement Exchange in Baltimore in March. I’m really excited and am looking forward to the hustle of multiple interviews in a short amount of time—that’s my E for you—but as I’ve been preparing, I can’t help but think of this type of search like the beginnings of a new relationship.  Now I know I’m going to TPE, but I think the following argument could be made for any placement exchange.

First of all, you have to be willing to put yourself out there.  I’m not one for online dating, but I imagine that the profiles are very much “about me” and people can look and pass you by without even saying hello. The same is true for searching in at a placement exchange. You register months in advance, put up a short conference blurb and your résumé, and then hope that employers are interested in what you’ve got to offer on paper.

Ahh, the initial contact. Again, like with dating, it’s a two way street.  Employers can contact you, and you can contact them, but who is going to contact the other first? You don’t want to be annoying and start contacting people too early, but you also don’t want to wait to long and have their schedules fill up, so what do you do? Just like in dating, you don’t want to be annoying but you can’t let a good person get away, so you have to find a happy medium with your communication.

Eventually, it’s going to be interview time.  I think it was in the original Van Wilder that Ryan Reynolds’ character says, “It’s a date,” to which Tara Reid’s character responds, “It’s an interview,” and Reynolds’ retorts with, “A first date is always an interview.” This couldn’t be more true! I feel like our field talks about “fit” ad naseum sometimes, but it really is what is most important in your first full-time search.  I don’t think I’m reaching too far when I say that most entry level positions in a given area (housing, conduct, academic advising, etc.) are similar across the board. Sure, they can vary at public and private, four-year and two-year institutions, but as a whole, they’re going to be pretty similar, so you want to look for a place where you’re going to have the best experience for you—the same thing you’d look for in a partner, right??

Now you may have read this far and are now like, “Well this woman has no idea what she’s talking about…” and I’m totally okay with that. I think the bottom line for me is remembering that, as with dating, I’m not going to be the right fit for every school. Some schools are going to look at my colorful résumé and be like, “No, ma’am,” and that’s fine! You should feel the same way. You want a school to want you as bad as you want them. It’s easy to get in your head that one school is you “perfect fit,” and no one can compare, and that’s not fair to your or the other schools you interview with. Sometimes the best things come when you least expect them (for dating and interviews), so keep an open mind and hopefully you’ll find somewhere that’s great for you! I’m done being cheesy and cliché now, I promise.

Student Affairs - the First Years

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