Don’t Let Others Define Your Job Search

by Jena Rock

Ahh, February: a pivotal month in the lives of student affairs professionals. Numbers have been reported from fall’s initiatives. Final edits are being made on the upcoming fiscal year budgets before going in for approval. Graduate students enrolled in the final semester of their higher education programs are in the “home stretch” of their studies. This month is a season of pause and reflection on what you’ve accomplished/contributed as a #SApro and can also mean shaping next steps in your practice. For many, next steps might mean reaching for that promotion/new title and for others it might mean THE job search.

Fortunately, our line of work naturally creates ways to encourage constant dialogue to share job opportunities, provide support, and network. Job searching tends to be a common topic of interest for #SApros; especially when speaking to grad students who are about to complete their program and initiate their first job search. The conversation may go a bit like this:

           Them: How’s the job search going?
Grad: It’s going well! I just started last month and there seems to be some opportunities I could see myself applying for.
Them: Well what area do you want to go into? Where do you see yourself working? Do you want to go large public or small private? Do you eventually want to be a Vice President of Student Affairs? … The list continues.

My approach as a career educator tends to not respond well to this type of approach in conversations related to the job search. You could get the title that you want at the school you want doing the exact programming that you’d hoped for, and still feel that there is something missing. My preference is to lead the conversation a bit more like this:

           Them: How are you feeling about starting your job search?
Grad:  Great! I’ve already started looking at jobs and have applied to a few in the last two weeks!
Them: I’m glad you’re feeling that you have a good handle on your job search! What experiences have you had in your current role that you’d like to continue beyond graduation? What lessons in your classes do you think you will be excited to bring up in your work as a student affairs professional? What moments have you felt that your work as a student affairs professional contributed to student development?

The truth is, whether you are conducting your first, third, or seventh job search, there are going to be others who will have questions for you that might feel as if they are putting you into a box. If you are in the mindset where you’re focus is on how others are defining your success as a #SApro, I encourage you to take a moment of pause to reflect on how YOU define success as a #SApro. You are the one who is going to be reporting to your boss every day, connecting with students on campus, and spending the hours that you spend on your job responsibilities. Create your own box. In fact, create your own penthouse and shine in your work because you love what YOU do!

Student Affairs - the First Years

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