So You’re in Grad School – April

So I might have dropped the ball this month. And no, that’s not an April Fools joke. Ever since the students returned from Spring Break, I’ve felt incredibly busy. Some days I look at my calendar and it’s a solid block of meetings. With all this madness, I’ve had no time for writing (or anything else…empty fridge, I’m looking at you!). I’m so bummed, I had a GREAT idea for an April Fool’s Day post. I guess it will just have to wait for next year.

I also really haven’t had time to think more about what I did during my first year of grad school during the month of April. Also not an April Fools joke. Sorry, first year students. Prep for you upcoming summer adventures? Seriously. I don’t even know what to tell you at the moment. I’ve forgotten stuff that happened only two years ago in my old age.

I remember April of my second year much better. That was the month we all started having on campus interviews. Now remember, never compare yourself to your classmates. You may not have an on campus interview arranged yet. You might have more than anybody else. Do what makes you comfortable. That being said, here’s a few tips!

On campus interviews will take you away from school and you might be gone quite a while if your interview is far from your college or if you are lining them up back to back (don’t do that). Your professors and supervisors will be flexible, but please make sure you’re checking the calendar before scheduling an interview. If a potential employer suggests a date that definitely doesn’t work, you can let them know. Remember  they work in education so they understand that you are still a students. Also, think about how you are going to keep up with school work on the road!

You don’t have to say yes to all on campus interview offers. IN fact, you should only say yes if you are really certain that it is a job you would accept if offered. Why  An on campus interview is a pretty big deal. Schools don’t invite twenty candidates on campus for one open position. It sometimes spans two days and a lot of people interview you. The school puts a lot of effort (and sometimes money) into planning it. If you don’t think you’re going to take the job, don’t waste their time.

Different schools have different reimbursement policies. Some schools will book your travel for you if you are traveling by air. Others will have you book it and then reimburse you. Some schools will reimburse you for travel expenses no matter what. At other schools, they might only reimburse half or not reimburse you if you decline their job offer. These are all very important reasons why you need to think long and hard about saying yes to an on campus interview. I was in your shoes last year. You are in NO position to shell out $800 for a last minute flight and not get that money back.

The traveling there is honestly the worst part. A word of warning – nobody expects you to wear a full suit while traveling, but you definitely don’t want to be wearing sweatpants!! You might be meeting a person from campus right as you arrive and even though it’s not a formal interview, it’s totally part of the interview. If you MUST wear yoga pants while driving, try to find a rest stop close to your destination to clean up at.

One time that someone told me was to take advantage of the bathroom breaks. During your long day, people will ask if you need to use the restroom. ALWAYS SAY YES. Even if you don’t have to use the bathroom, enjoy a few minutes of peace and quiet. I had some fruit snacks in my bag and used one break to eat those to stop my stomach from rumbling.

Do you have any other tips for second years about to start their on campus interviews? Leave them in the comments!

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