The SA Search: Things I’ve Learned

by Christine Pitts

When looking, and applying for jobs going the extra mile is something that I always saw as important. After I graduated, I traveled from my home in New Jersey to Washington DC for the NASPA Region 2 Conference with professional development in mind, of course, but also networking. I talked to everyone I could. I collected business cards from people and when I arrived home, I thanked them all for their time via e-mail. Some of these e-mails even turned into further discussions about my career goals, advice moving forward and a promise to keep me in mind if they catch a posting at their institution. One of them turned into my first job. This week I want to focus on going the extra mile during the job search process, as well as some tips I have for interviewing.

Recently, I was speaking with a friend, who is also a recent graduate, about the job search process. She’s been going on many interviews, but not hearing back. I asked her if she was sending thank you e-mails after them and she said, “no, are you suppose to?” – sending thank you notes has always been a staple for me. I honestly do it for everything, but some people just don’t know about the simple things you can do. So, I encouraged her to send them. A couple days later she went on another interview. I asked her how it went, and then reminded her to send thank you e-mails. While she had planned to, she was freaking out because she had missed one of the interviewers’ names and couldn’t find it anywhere online. I encouraged her to call the school the next day and was hopeful the secretary would know. Her response, “that’s too much work”.

I think my jaw hit the floor. “Too much work? Do you want a job?” was, and will always be, my response to such a ridiculous statement. I can understand her nervousness to call the school, but (and anyone can totally correct me if I am wrong) interviewers know that this is a nerve-racking process, and sometimes we miss things or forget something. If anything, it was a learning process for her, and I have had plenty of those during my search.

This brings me to my next segment: things I have learned/tips for interviewing:

  1. Do research. Be able to quote things from their mission statement, talk about their student demographic, programs you saw that sounded amazing. If you are passionate about it, it will fall out of your mouth. 
  2. Attire. When I was going on my first interview a close friend of mine who works in higher education told me to wear a suit. It was the day before my interview; I am short and tiny person. There was no way I would be able to find a suit that fit right in time. I wore I dress, and while she did not think it was the best choice, I was comfortable and confident in my business dress. My advice is to go with what makes you feel comfortable and confident, but make it 100% professional.
  3. Ask questions. Interviews are like going on a date. You have to see if this place is the right match for you just as much as they are seeing if you are the right match for them. Get to know them. 
  4. Business cards. Ask your interviewers for them at the end. This way you don’t have to stress about finding their e-mails online and can send them a ‘thank you’ as soon as you get home.
I am by no means an expert. These are just personal things I picked up on while interviewing.

Lastly, I am excited to announce that I am officially a Chapter Support Manager for the National Society of Leadership and Success. I will be based in Hoboken, NJ and working with chapters across the country in different institutions. I thrilled to be able to share my experiences as a new professional with you. 

Student Affairs - the First Years

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