The Right Fit

So, the other day I mentioned that a job I turned down was at a school that just wasn’t the right fit. But what does that even mean? Think about when you were applying to GO to college. Everybody told you that you wanted “the right fit” and that “you’d just know”. Those things apply to a job. You want to work somewhere that you will be happy and continue to grow.

There are some things about the school or position that you will know just from reading the job description or researching the school.


This one is pretty obvious. Where is the school located? Is it somewhere you want to be geographically? If you want to stay on the West Coast to be close to family or a significant other, why would you even apply to a job in Virginia? On a smaller scale, what sort of environment do you want to be in? Do you want to work in a city or do you want to be in a more suburban or even rural area? In a city there’s PLENTY to do that’s off campus (fun for you), but it also might make it hard to promote on campus programming (terrible for your job). At some schools, there is NOTHING if you venture off campus.


If the school you’re applying at has a religious affiliation, you might have to see if your values line up with the school’s values. This is something you really should be doing anyway, but more so if there is religion involved. Back when I was applying for assistantships, one school with Catholic roots said that I would not be able to have overnight guests of the opposite gender. Not for me, sorry.

What You’ll Be Doing

This might sound silly, but you want to apply for a job you’re going to like. If you really hate academic advising, don’t apply for a job that has anything to do with academic advising. At smaller schools, you may be working in more than one department, so even though the job may be listed as one thing, make sure you read the description to see exactly what you will be doing. On the flip side, if you are working in a larger department, you’re going to want to see what your role will be in the department.

Aspects Important to YOU

There are some things that will be important to you that your classmates won’t care about. If you have a significant other or child, you’re going to want to make sure a live in position works with your lifestyle. I really wanted to work at a small school.

There are other aspects of the job that you can’t just look up online but instead will have to ask about during interviews. Other things might be a bit awkward to just come out and ask, so you will have to make your best call based on what you see during an interview.


What’s the office culture like? Is it a laid back, fun place to work? I honestly can’t imagine working in some stuffy office all day. Some offices have a much more casual dress code than others (jealous). Do the staff members seem to get along? Are they friends outside the office?

Professional Development

How invested will the school be in your growth once you get the job? Do they spring for ACPA or NASPA or tell you to just register for a free webinar? Is there a set professional development program? Will they let you take on projects?

Supportive Supervisors

This is probably the most important. You and your supervisor need to be able to work well together. This isn’t just another on campus job that you will leave once you graduate…you’re in it to win it this time! What is your boss’ supervision style? Do they seemed relaxed or does it seem like they’ll be hovering over your shoulder every step of the way?

As much as interviews are a time for your future employer to be learning more about you, it is also a time that you can learn about them! Make sure to go in with a list of questions about things that matter to you!

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