The Perfectly Imperfect Job Candidate: Initial Reactions to “The Job Search”

by Tamera Dunn
@tameeeraa

Experiencing a short burst of time at home, far from the classroom and assistantships, many of us thought we would have the chance to breathe, relax, and catch up on all those things we have wanted to do. News flash: This thought, while lovely in principle, is FICTICIOUS.

Instead, many of us found ourselves fixing a plate of food to settle at the table only to have the conversation switch to THAT topic. You know, the one we realize won’t be going away anytime soon. Oh heyyyyy, job search.

It never fails that you will be asked this question many, many times by all sorts of people - family, friends, mentors, mentees, and even people you know at other schools. I’ve witnessed and/or attempted some pretty entertaining responses, which are chronicled below. I also sent a tweet to see what the lovely folks of Twitter would contribute, and some of their responses are mixed in below, minus tags- I want them to get jobs too!  

  • If the person is not in the field of student affairs (and has possibly never attended college), you may try to explain the field in relation to another, such as the hospitality industry as many can relate to what goes into a hotel stay happen. However, the concept of attending a giant “interviewing conference” is not something they can imagine, as their idea of job searching is driving from one potential employer to the next and submitting applications. Yes, I know, it’s 2014.
  • So…jobs. Searching? Is that what I’m supposed to be doing?
  • Laughter. Intense, uncontrollable laughter which switches over to sobbing unexpectedly. Hello, mood swings and worries of being a failure who just got themselves a bit deeper in student loan debt with another degree.  
  • If the person is a college student (say, a younger sibling), they have likely experienced the crazy turnover that happens in staff positions, whether it be academic advising, their residence hall, or even a bookstore. This group is the most likely to understand the type of job you are seeking, but can’t begin to understand WHY you would want to work with students like their peers, because … *insert horror story about specific situation*.
  • Run away screaming “JOBS! AHH!!” and flailing arms. (Best. Snapchat. Video. EVER.)
  • Buying obscene amounts of post-holiday candy while it’s discounted to “plan ahead” for the struggle of spending lots of time on job portals, reading every school website ever created, and wondering how many times Shockwave can crash. Bonus points if you convinced someone else to buy it for you!
  • Refer them to the job cartoon which references ‘job cannons’ and ‘jobbies’. Thanks, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. Now you too can go make a few hundred copies!
(Note: Not recommended for a business card.)


One thing I learned when searching for my #sagrad place was to never underestimate the fact that you are perfectly imperfect. Yes, we have all made mistakes which could have cost us far more than we ever anticipated. Yes, we have preferences and know the type of environment which will spur our future success. No job will be ‘perfect’ in every sense of the word, but there will be the perfect job for each of us provided we push ourselves to be the successes we know we are. Take time to breathe, relax, and ENJOY the opportunity to connect with student affairs professionals in a setting where you are expected to be yourself in order to find the place where you fit in.  

Thanks to all of my great Twitter friends who gave me some additional scenarios of their own to help round out the list above! If you’d like to have a conversation about your own experiences with the “job search” question, feel free to tweet @tameeeraa (That’s right. New year, new Twitter handle.) You can also feel free to tweet me if you’d like to offer me a job (Ha. But really…😉). I hope this article has infused a little bit of humor into your own thinking about the great opportunities that await us all!

Student Affairs - the First Years

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