Your Job Search Experience


As a second year in a graduate program, you already have enough on your plate; passing your comprehensive exams, writing a thesis, and of course, graduation! However, with all of that taken care of, you still have one more beast to conquer…your job search!  While this can be a very trying time, , as someone who successfully survived his job search process, please allow me the opportunity to share with you some things that truly helped me get through this stressful experience!


1. Organization: Applying for jobs, especially at placement exchanges, can be very confusing. You look at so many schools and departments that after a while, they all seem to start to run together. To assist with this, I started a folder system. Each folder was labeled with the institution in which I was applying, along with the following information inside. The Job Description of the position; Vision/Mission Statement of the institution, division, university/college statistics, and department. This was important as it allowed me to find key words or phrases that the institution may value. For example, if you happen to see “whole citizen”, “global citizen”, “well rounded student” within these documents, you may want to discuss a program that you have previously done, or an idea for a program that you would like to plan that would relate to how you can produce a well rounded, global citizen as a result! If you don’t pay close attention to these statements, you may miss some key points that you could have easily scored in the interview and helped you gain better insight into what that institution values.

2. Networking: It is very important to have extra resumes available during your time at a conference. Not only will some interviewers ask for another copy, but you may find yourself applying for jobs during the conference as they are posted, or through networking with others. , however, you should still keep a good amount on hand with you at all times! Conferences are all about networking opportunities, and you never know who you may meet at a conference. You could be at a bar having a glass of wine and looking over material for an interview and the person sitting next to you is the Director of a Department and inform you of an anticipated opening. In a situation like this, you want to make sure that you are on the ball! The best thing to do would be to smile, engage the individual, and inform them that you have a copy of your resume’ that they can look at, and make sure that you acquire one of their business cards. Remember that not all job postings are ready to be interviewed at our national conferences, and there are many that may be anticipated; primarily due to the fact that the individual may be currently going through interviews! You don’t want to waste an opportunity! Furthermore, as you are networking and exchanging business cards, it is also important to write something on the back of the card that will remind you of the individual. Did you like their tie, or their shirt, did they talk about running in a marathon recently or a being a member or a Greek organization? Something that can help jog your memory when reaching out to them and help you build that personal connection.


3. Time Management: Conferences are fun and exciting, but they are also very time intensive as well as draining. A suggestion I have for you when booking interviews is to not book your interviews on top of one another when possible. Through my job search, I tried hard to adhere to this rule, however, it became much harder when I arrived at the conference and needed to schedule other interviews in between those already scheduled. Try your hardest to give yourself an opportunity to breathe, as well as to even walk outside of the interviewing area and get some air. This will help you in ensuring that your brain is getting rest and allows you time to reflect on previous interviews and questions, as well as to start preparing for your next interview by over-looking the Vision/Mission Statement, and Job Description.  For those key positions, that you feel could be “the ONE”, give yourself as much time to relax and prepare prior to.


4. Confidence is Key: There is a thin line between being confident and being arrogant. Having confidence means that you are confident in your abilities to perform the tasks for the position, as well as that you can be seen as a great asset to the organization or institution, mainly due to the fact that there are teachable moments and experiences that they can afford you. Being cocky, while on the border-line of being confident, can be taken as if you can do the job but that the institution needs to hire you based on the fact that there is no-one who can do the job; however, someone is confident, is confident in their abilities to perform the task, but also discusses how being a member of the institution/organization is a benefit, and able to assist in the long-term growth of you as a professional.


5. Rejection/Acceptance: Its unfortunate, however, we do not always get hired straight out of the starting gates. We unfortunately have to deal with a little thing called…rejection. In times like this do not get discouraged or defeated. Take the good with the bad, brush it off and continue onward with your job search! Remember that you are being evaluated on the following items: experience, skill level and most importantly your FIT within the organization/team.  So although you might not be the right candidate for their current opening, you might be a better fit for something down the line.  Don’t look at the closed door for too long, you might miss the next door being opened!


6. ENJOY THE JOB SEARCH: Although doing your first job search at a conference can be very stressful, it also can be a lot of fun.  You get to meet new people, learn about new departments, and be exposed to many new ideas.  It really can be an exciting time, so relax, take a deep breath, and enjoy!


If you follow these three tips, I can not guarantee that you will automatically be hired; however, I can inform you that your job search process will be much easier and enjoyable! I wish all of you luck with everything you are looking to accomplish this semester, and I look forward to meeting you at our next meeting or in Philly or Baltimore!


Happy Searching,



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