If you’re about to start your first year…
Slow down, sailor! Enjoy your last remaining days of freedom. Come back next month and I’ll have some stuff for you.
If you’ve just finished your first year…
Congratulations on finishing your first year! Hopefully you are getting settled in at whatever internship you have for the summer. As in previous months, it’s time to think about the upcoming year. Many programs require that you take a comprehensive exam or complete some sort of major project (or both!) during your second year. The timing and due dates for these vary from program to program. You might take your exam during or right after the first semester. Other schools wait until spring. The same goes with any reports or projects. I was one of the unlucky souls that had to do both. I didn’t know much about the report I was going to have to do, but I did know about the exam and decided to take advantage of NOT having classes to start getting my materials together and studying.
Some things you want to ask yourself right now might be: What materials will you need? Do any notes need to be rewritten or copied from a classmate? Which textbooks do you need? Do you only need certain sections? Is there any way to condense any of your notes? What material will you need to focus on the most? How often will you be able to study once the semester starts?
Since I didn’t know much about the project, I focused on preparing for the exam. I knew when it was and what material it covered. The first thing I did was to create a folder for each class. In it, I made a checklist. I wanted all old exams, chapter outlines, and notes from each class in the folder before I began going through everything. It took me a few days to sort through everything and put it in some sort of order, but I did it! (I also got to throw things away that I no longer needed…that felt good!) Once I did that, I made a very broad “study” outline. I wanted to use the summer to narrow the materials down and make a final outline for each class. I also wanted to prioritize my classes…there were some classes that I did not remember the material from at all and I had taken them less than a year before! Before the summer ended, I also wanted to make a study schedule for the semester so I would be prepared for my exam at the end. It sounds like a lot of work, but it’s much better to be over-prepared than to be panicking mid-semester!
If you’ve just finished your second year…
Some of you may have job offers already. Some of you may be working already! Keep on reading, I only direct posts specifically at grad students once a month.
Some of you don’t have job offers yet. That’s okay! Keep looking! Like I mentioned last month, things will open up as other people take jobs elsewhere. That’s definitely happening in my office. The fiscal year started on June 1st, so some departments are JUST beginning their candidate searches.
Not everybody that I graduated with got jobs right away. In fact, some people just got their first professional jobs this year even though we graduated last year. What did they do in the meantime? A lot found temporary student affairs positions so at least they were in the field. One of my friends stayed at the same institution and worked as a temp in MANY different departments…eventually they hired him! Others have left the profession. They are still working in some sort of helping profession…we have a few high school counselors among our group! Basically, we’re all a bunch of people who chose to do something because it made us happy…if you chose student affairs for the money, I’m not sure what rock you’ve been living under the past two years. Now that school’s over, do what makes you happy, even if that means working at some hip coffee shop while job searching. I won’t judge you for it, but your mother most likely will. Just kidding!!