Tag Archives: job search

Where Are They Now?

One book that I have been meaning to read is Job One. Job One follows a group of SA Grads AFTER graduation. Kind of like this blog does…except. It only follows me. While this book is nearly ten years old, I thought it would be a good time to reflect on where my classmates now are in their careers.

A lot of my classmates are in the same boat as me – they found jobs somewhere around graduation, started, and they are still there. I keep seeing a ton of Facebook statuses about everybody hitting their one year mark. For those individuals not in ResLife, I see a LOT of apartment searching right now. Why? People quickly signed leases since they NEEDED to move and now that they know they are staying longer, they are looking for a nicer place or they are moving in with friends they’ve made.

Two classmates went back to school. Well, one just kept on trucking and started doctoral classes WEEKS after we graduated. The other wound up getting a job at a school with a doctoral program and enrolled after she finished her first year. While another degree isn’t on my agenda anytime soon, I am very proud of these two for continuing.

I have a few classmates that did not hit their one year mark for a variety of reasons. All but one finished out the academic year at their institutions but have recently started at their new jobs. Their reasons for moving included wanting to be closer to significant others and family. One got a job at Grad School State – although in a different department than where she worked while we attended school. And the one who didn’t make it through a school year? He had some MAJOR life changes. Shortly before Thanksgiving, his wife was offered a job on the other side of the country. They could not turn down this offer, she makes a LOT more than he does. His wife moved out before Christmas and he followed in January. He was going to start looking for jobs but then they found out that she’s expecting! He’s decided that he’s going to be a stay at home dad once the little one arrives this fall, so finding a job for just a few months didn’t make sense.

There were some people that didn’t get job offers last summer. One just kept doing temp jobs at Grad School State before getting offered a job at a school a few hours away. Another moved to a pretty remote area of the country with her fiance where there really aren’t a lot of job opportunities. A third wound up with a job offer sometime last fall – but not in Student Affairs. He took it and he enjoys what he’s doing and he definitely applies the things he learned in our program, just to a different set of people.

I really want to get my hands on this book. I’m interested to see how my classmates compare to the students in the book!

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Sitting On The Other Side Of The Table

You may have noticed that at some point during the spring semester, I stopped updating so frequently. Heck, even for the bit of summer we’ve had so far, my updates have been rather…sporadic. Author, I thought your job barely required a pulse in the summer! You’ve let me down! Well, for starters, my job requires more than just a pulse for the summer months…PDFM U is NOT one of those ten month gigs. Also, since I’m not brand new here, I’ve taken on some pretty large projects and the time to get serious on them is NOW while the students aren’t here. But most importantly, we’ve had some vacancies in the department the past few months, so I’ve been picking up additional responsibilities.

Due to these vacancies, I’ve gotten to see the other side of the process that I went through just last year. While I was excited for new co-workers, the process was not as fun as I had thought it would be. It was also rather lengthy, so now I realize why it took schools so long to get back to me!

The first thing that happens is that a job description has to be created. We were lucky in that these positions have existed here for quite awhile, so the approval process wasn’t that long. If it had been a new position or if we had made major changes, the description (and position itself) would have needed to go through a longer approval process. Part of that is making sure that we have the money for the position. Your position actually costs the institution more than just your salary – you’ve got benefits too – health insurance, retirement, and at PDFM U, we get a meal plan. (I wish everything I just said made me feel better about how little we get paid in Student Affairs…but…it doesn’t.)

The job description then gets posted. It has to be open for X amount of days. On many sites, you will be told to apply by a certain date. When I was job searching, I missed this deadline by HOURS and they would not accept it. Ouch. I believe our postings were up for two months. And here’s the thing, during the time we really don’t look through the materials. So, if you’ve submitted your stuff the day after a posting went up, you might not hear anything other than the standard “we’ve received your materials” email for WEEKS.

After the position had been up for awhile, we had to figure out who was going to help with interviews. We knew we were going to have phone interviews and on campus interviews and wanted to make sure that the departments we worked closely with also had a say in who we were going to hire. After coming up with this extensive list AND figuring out who was going to be a apart of which interviews, we had to find a time that we were all free. As I mentioned before, the past month or so has been very busy, so you could imagine we had a difficult time getting everybody together. Finally, we nailed down some dates and times to pick who we were going to do phone interviews with, when we were going to do phone interviews, and when we were going to do on campus interviews.

In my office, we each reviewed resumes on our own. There were a LOT of them. Some people were overqualified (one person had been a director of his department for FIFTEEN YEARS). Others were under-qualified (including one person who had just finished his first year of college). The hard part is, with the amount of resumes we had, it was impossible to read every single word on every single one. This is why everybody stresses that your resume needs to be good! It’s so important to go through the job description and see what points you should speak to. If we say that a major part of the job description is Z and you don’t mention Z at all, your resume is going to get shoved in the “Do Not Call” pile. Another note on resumes – at first glance it should be visually appealing. I’m not saying you need to be a design major, but simple layout choices can make a resume MUCH easier to read.

Next came the phone interviews…this was my least favorite thing about interviewing for jobs and I definitely did not like being on the other side of it. Seriously, NOBODY likes phone interviews, but with people from all over the country applying for jobs, it’s necessary. Some tips if you are the interviewee? Write down everybody’s name! We were really impressed with the people who remembered our names. Also, if you are using a cell phone, make sure you are in an area that has good service!!

It took us awhile to get to the on campus phase. A lot of the people that were supposed to take part in on campus interviews had vacations planned. I was super excited for on campus interviews!! It is much easier to get a feel for someone in person than over the phone. What are some things that you should expect? You will have multiple interviews that day, some with small groups, others one-on-one. For example, your future co-workers might interview you has a group, but your future supervisor might interview you one-on-one. You will most likely be given a tour of campus. If you are applying for a live-on position, you SHOULD be shown an apartment, however, it might not be the apartment you wind up being assigned to! Some parts of the day will be much more casual than other parts. Everybody tends to freak out about on campus interviews, but I don’t think they’re that bad. Be warned – it is a LONG day.

After we finished all the on campus interviews, we had to meet again as a group to decide who we wanted to hire. By this time, it was nearly three weeks since our first candidate had come to campus! When we made our decisions, I was definitely excited – only to find out that we still had to do background checks and reference checks and notify the person and give them X days to respond. And then they still wouldn’t be here! If someone is currently in another position, they have to give notice first!

While the process was not as fun as I was hoping it would be, I am super excited for the new people to get here in August…if only they could come sooner! Also, seeing the process from the other side gave me a good understanding of WHY things took so long. So, lovely readers, if you are job searching and wondering why you still haven’t heard back, there’s a good chance that somebody who is supposed to be interviewing you decided to go to Cabo instead. But seriously. You’re not the only person being considered and it does take time to sort through all of the information we receive. Hang in there!

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Unpaid Internships: Post Grad Edition

Lately there’s been a lot in the news about the legality of unpaid internships. Many of the articles (and their comments) focus on college students that are required to do internships as part of their degree requirements. I was required to do an internship as part of my degree and my academic department had very strict rules as to what would count. They couldn’t be “coffee and copies” internships. Our supervisor had to be willing to sit down and have one-on-one meetings with us. While my classmates and I weren’t paid, several of us were compensated with meals during working hours or small stipends to cover traveling expenses.

A lot of colleges want their students to do internships. It gives them “real world” work experience. Companies like it because they essentially get to work with someone for a bit of time and train them now and if they like the person, they can hire them in a year or two when they graduate. Some companies are a little greedy and see it as free labor. Maybe more academic programs need to have restrictions for internships like mine did just to protect the students.

But that’s not what I’m hear to talk about today. You know what the good thing about doing an internship while you are in college is? YOU ARE IN COLLEGE. You don’t have to pay back your loans yet, you’re probably still under your parents’ insurance plans, and if you play your cards right and get an internship in the same city that your school is in, you might still get to take advantage of the cushy college lifestyle – dorm rooms and dining halls. Unfortunately, too many industries are now expecting that recent graduates take unpaid (or barely paid) internship positions.

I have a friend, let’s call her Elizabeth, that majored in Art History. Real smart girl, really knew her stuff. I had to take just the basic art history course and wanted to bash my head against my desk throughout each three hour lecture. Not Elizabeth. She was fascinated. While we were in school, she did an internship at a local, but well-known, museum. She had phenomenal grades and I’m sure if Undergrad U published a class rank, she would have been the top of the class. At the end of senior year, Elizabeth started applying for museum jobs. Now, she was well aware that entry level museum jobs were not the most well-paying, but she liked what she was doing, so she didn’t worry about it (sound familiar, student affairs folk?!). Time after time, Elizabeth was turned down. From her internship at the local museum, she had some connections and found out through the grapevine that she was a great candidate and well-liked, but just didn’t have enough experience. She asked her former supervisor and several professors how she could get enough experience to qualify for an ENTRY-LEVEL position and they all told her that she would probably have to do an internship or two AFTER graduation.

Plenty of students in the more creative fields probably hear the same thing every year. I know plenty of people who have gone out there and done it – worked for free for a year or so and then landed some awesome job. How did they support themselves? They didn’t. Their parents gave them money for rent and they worked some small part time job to get some cash for other expenses. Or maybe they were close enough to a large city with a booming industry that they just lived with their parents or other relatives! The point is, it’s hard to be an unpaid intern after graduation if you don’t have the support of others – and I’m not talking emotional support. I’m talking about money. Who’s going to pay your rent or your phone bill? What about when student loan bills start rolling in six months after graduation? The world doesn’t get put on hold because you need to do an internship before you can get a job.

Unfortunately Elizabeth did not have that sort of support. Her parents passed away during her freshman year of college. Elizabeth needed money for rent and other bills. She needed a job that provided benefits – something that a part time job wouldn’t do. She took a full time office assistant position which made finding an internship really hard – many required her to work more hours than she was able to with her full time job. Elizabeth stuck it out for quite a bit, living in the expensive New York City area, hoping to get an internship at one of the many museums in the area, but never got one. She eventually returned to our college town, as the cost of living is MUCH more manageable there.

I’m sure there are tons of people out there reading this post…okay reading articles SIMILAR to this post that are wondering why Elizabeth and many other students would choose to major in something that isn’t guaranteed to lead to a lucrative career path. Clearly Elizabeth knew that she wasn’t going to have financial support after graduation, why go for something that would require an internship? My question is (and this goes beyond the creative industries) when did entry level positions become…well…non-entry level positions? Elizabeth played her cards right – she got good grades, she did an internship in college to gain experience – but at the end of the day it wasn’t enough experience. All of the museums were looking for people that had work experience after graduation. How can these new graduates get work experience when nobody will hire them because they don’t have work experience? It’s something I see happening to a lot of my friends.

More and more lawsuits are being brought against larger companies due to their use of unpaid interns. The Labor Department has guidelines for what can be “intern” work and what needs to be paid work, but I don’t think too many companies are paying attention to those – until now. I am hoping that since these stories are getting pretty widespread coverage, the culture around unpaid internships will change, making it easier for new graduates to get started in their careers.

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So You’re In Grad School: June

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!!


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May Goal Updates

Every other month, I’ve started with some comment about how short the month felt. This month felt like it DRAGGED on. I think that’s because it was so segmented. Classes! Finals Week! Graduation Week! Break! Summer Classes! Seriously. Is May over yet?

Be More Organized

I decided to rearrange my entire apartment. I was hoping that it would involve more throwing away and donating things…but in the end I only brought two giant trash bags of stuff to Goodwill. I can’t tell you how much I threw away because I just carried it to the dumpster as I went. I did NOT want to put it in a pile and then later try to justify keeping something.

I also added more things to my calendars. Yes, I still have multiple. I created a calendar for next school year that I just printed using some boring Microsoft template. Lilly Pulitzer just announced that they are taking pre-orders their 2013 – 2014 agendas…tempting. BUT. I really love my Russell and Hazel planner and I’ve been checking their site on a weekly basis to see if they have 2014 stuff out yet. So far? Nope. GET WITH IT PEOPLE, SOME OF US STILL OPERATE ON AN ACADEMIC CALENDAR. (Or are super-organized Type As. Or both!)

Read More

I finally finished a book I have been reading here and there for MONTHS. Unfortunately, I am not motivated enough to write a book review entry on it. I couldn’t really get into it at the beginning and then silly impatient me went and read the plot summary on Wikipedia, so I spoiled the ending for myself. Oops. I’ve also been reading “The Great Gatsby” this month. I used to read all the time, but this was back before the days of SVU marathons.

I did buy someone “Girls in White Dresses” as a graduation gift. That was one book I had no problem whipping through and I want to try and read it once a year. It sounds silly, but I think the book will mean different things to me as I get older. I also got another special person some books on travel for a graduation gift. Maybe I will convince everybody else that reading is cool and then I will start doing more of it myself!

Schedule More Me Time

I’ve realized that whenever I do “me time” stuff, it’s never scheduled, it’s always on a whim. Oh, I’m not on duty but I’m in the area? Let’s go to the mall! Oh, I need to go to the grocery store and I happen to be wearing sandals and there’s a nail salon? Pedicure time! So, I’m total crap at scheduling me time. I keep saying I need to take advantage of living near a massage therapy school, but I’ve been here a year and still haven’t done so.

Keep In Touch

One unique way I’ve managed to keep in touch with some friends is by helping them with their resumes. Even though we don’t actually see each other in person, I get to communicate with them via email AND find out about what they’re doing now and where they want to go next.

I’ve also been keeping in touch with some sorority sisters because we’re planning our trip. I honestly have to limit how much time I spend on the Disney website because I get too excited.

The biggest thing I did this month was head to UU for Alumni Weekend. It’s like Homecoming, minus the football. One of my friends owns a house about ten minutes from UU, so a bunch of us crashed there. We had a huge barbecue and a camp fire. It was wonderful. We’ve been joking about going on a cruise in a few years to celebrate being out of college for ten years. I hope we actually follow through with that!

Be A Grown Up

My least favorite category. I swear. Well, I still need to pay those doctor’s bills. In fact, I actually need to FIND those doctor’s bills. Oops. I should also probably go to the dentist (and create more bills). But. I have this strange fear of the dentist. So, I’ll put that one off… And last but not least – the dining hall is closed for the summer so I think I’m going to need to re-work my budget to make up for that!

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We’re Pretty Lucky

Last week, I found myself with some extra time off and decided to take a long weekend and visit Grad School State. It was definitely a much deserved vacation.

I was happy to get off campus for once. It seems that even when I’m not on call, I tend to stick around (now that I’m making friends in the area) but as long as I’m in the city, I feel the need to be “on”. What’s that mean? Well, if something serious were to happen, if I’m on campus, I’m going to have to jump in. And if I’m around the city, I need to make sure I’m on my best behavior. During RA training, we talk about how RAs are role models to their residents. Who do you think act as role models for the RAs? Oh you know, the pro staff.

I was also glad to see all the people I knew from GSS. I had friends that were in lots of different departments and it was nice to see them after all this time and hear what they have been up to. Everybody in my program seems to like their jobs. I only know of two that are searching and it’s not so much that they don’t like their jobs, but rather they are relocating to be closer to a significant other. My friends from outside the program…that’s a different story. They always seem to be looking for something better or complaining about something. Part of me wants to smack them…”Oh, I’m sorry, your boss asked you to come in on a Saturday? I had to go to the hospital with a kid with alcohol poisoning at three am.” But then I realized we’re the lucky ones! We like our jobs! It must suck to get called into a job that you don’t like on a Saturday.

The moment that it really hit me, I was talking with someone who is looking for his next job and he just seemed really down and said, “Oh well, it’s not like you can get your dream job right out the gate or even ten years down the road.” I don’t know about the rest of you, but I did! Granted, I’ve always thought about “dream _____” in a much more reasonable way than others. I know that I can’t have some high level job right after graduation, so I kept my goals in the entry level arena. I also tell people that my dream car is a car that only costs about $40K which isn’t exactly unreasonable. Back to my original point…

People also keep telling me that they “admire that I’m doing what I love even though it means I’ll be poor for the rest of my life” (except sometimes it’s more eloquently said). Yes, I know that I have a masters and I know that my job requires more than the normal nine-to-five and I’m sure if you divided the amount I make by the hours I worked, we would find that I would have been better off as a stock room worker at a chain clothing store that sells overpriced jeans, but that’s not the point. I’m happy with my job. At the moment, I’m able to make ends meet. I’m not on the border of being starving and homeless. I guess what I want to say to those people is sorry I value my happiness over a paycheck (#notsorry). 

Sorry that went a bit towards the rant-y side. I’m not even mad, I’m just happy with my job. I do have friends that aren’t in student affairs that do like their jobs. I also have friends that are still looking for their dream jobs but are making sure they are taking on the “right” responsibilities and projects in their current job to help them attain that dream job one day.

If you’re not in your dream job yet, what is your dream job? What steps are you taking to get there?

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So You’re In Grad School – May

May is always a month that’s pretty easy to remember…LAST DAY OF SCHOOL, WOOOOO!!! But seriously. I know last month I dropped the ball on my “So You’re In Grad School” post because I couldn’t remember what I did in April during my first year of my program. Guess what? I’ve been thinking about it all month and I STILL don’t remember what I did in April. But, because May was the end of the year, I definitely remember what I did in May.

If you’re a first year student…

Hopefully you have your summer plans all set because now it’s time to plan for them! You might be staying right where you are, you might be traveling to the other side of the country! Orrr you might be in the unlucky position of “we’re closing your building, MOVE!”. Trust me, that’s no fun. Also, I’m over moving. Like seriously over moving. Anywho.

If you do have to travel a long distance for your summer internship, make sure you have a reliable way of getting there. What’s that mean? Well, if you plan on driving to your internship, whether it’s a daily commute or driving ten hours twice the entire summer, take your car for a tune up. You don’t want to have to tell your supervisor that you are going to be late because your car broke down. If you are flying to get where you’re going, make sure you have a ride from the airport to campus and make sure you know how you’re going to get around during the summer. Does the city you’re going to be living in have a good public transportation system? Check it out ahead of time! Do you plan on renting a car for weekend trips? Look into the car rental service closest to where you’ll be living and see if there are any special restrictions. I rented a car the WEEK before I turned twenty five and had to pay an extra ten dollars a day. Other places might have a higher fee or might not rent to you, depending on your age.

Try to find out as much as you can before you leave for your internship. What are the details of where you’ll be living? Will you be housed in an apartment? Will you have roommates? One of my classmates got housed in a dorm room for his summer internship! It was a NICE dorm room…but he never thought he’d be back in one of those! Are there any special summer trips or retreats that you are expected to go on? What is the weather like in the summer where you are going? What are you supposed to wear in the office?

If you do your homework from the above two paragraphs, you will have a better grasp on what to pack and what not to pack for your summer internship. If you are flying, you might want to look into shipping a box or two ahead of time so you’re not paying a fee to check extra suitcases. At the end of the day (I can’t believe I’m about to say this) every town in America has a laundromat, so always pack less clothes. Always.

If you’re a second year student…

Congratulations. You’ve survived grad school. You better celebrate now because you’re about to start working full time and you will continue to do so for the next fifty years or so. I just sucked the fun right out of it, didn’t I?

Hopefully you have a job offer. Heck, maybe you’ve even accepted a job and have a start date and all that jazz! If so, that’s exciting and you might want to actually read some of what I wrote to the first year students as you plan to pack and move to wherever it is life takes you. Especially that part about bringing your car in for a tune up. You do not want to be stuck on the side of the road with your fully packed car. It’s no fun.

You might have multiple job offers at once. Whatever you do, DO NOT COMPLAIN ABOUT THIS TO OTHER PEOPLE. There are plenty of people out there that are currently employed and you will not earn their sympathy. If you have a few select friends that have their job situation figured out, talk to them about it or chat with a professor. But seriously, do not just complain to the whole class. Every program has that one kid that does it and nobody likes them.

So. Yes. You might have multiple job offers. And you might have a hard time choosing between them. There will be pros and cons about all of the schools, the positions, the locations. One job will pay more than the other. It’s not an easy decision to make. You need to think long and hard about it and honestly, you need to go with your gut feeling. I know most people fresh out of grad school will want to go with the highest salary (you’ve gotta pay those loans somehow!) but that might not be the best job to take. In a perfect world, the job with the best description and best location would also be the highest paying, but it NEVER works out that way. I wish you the best of luck with your decision. (Also, if you do need someone to complain to, I have a job, you can whine to me. Or wine to me. Whichever.)

You might not have a job offer yet. That’s okay. As people are accepting (or declining) job offers, more positions are opening up. Some schools don’t have their budgets set for next year yet and once they figure those details out, they will know if they can add that position or not. If you don’t have a job offer yet, put your stuff in storage, keep looking for jobs, but more importantly, ENJOY YOUR TIME OFF. Once your friends with jobs get settled in, go visit them. See new parts of the country. Go to the beach. Once you get a job offer (which you will), you will not have time to do any of those things.


Whether you’ve finished your first year, your whole program, or just finished college and are about to start your Student Affairs adventure, congratulations on finishing another year!

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TBT – Part Timing

Thanks to one of the blogs I follow, I found this article from The New York Times about how terrible part time work is. And after relying on working three part time jobs to get by for a year and a half, I fully understand how these employees are feeling. While the news reports that the unemployment rate is going down, that doesn’t count people who are “underemployed” like the woman in this article who worked as an interior designer for years and years, only to be working part time as a cashier in her fifties.

For part of my undergrad career, I decided to be a part time student. In my mind, I would spend more time working and would be able to pay for school easier. That wasn’t the case. At Undergrad U, part time students cannot receive ANY financial aid, including scholarships and grants that a student might normally qualify for. This meant that whatever tuition I couldn’t pay out of pocket, I was taking private loans for. This made it all to easy to forget about that expense until after graduation. Also, as a part time student, I couldn’t live on campus. While I lucked out and found super cheap (and super disgusting) subleases, that’s not always the case. In my area, off campus housing was usually more expensive than on campus housing. Another thing was that I wasn’t allowed to be an active member of a lot of the clubs I had been a part of. I also couldn’t work at one of my campus jobs because it was for full time undergrad students only. Once I returned to full time status, I kept working at my previous job and was working almost the same amount of hours that I had been while I was a a part time student! That was definitely not easy and I had to get creative with scheduling…both for work AND classes. As much as that sucked, I was much happier being a full time student!

Working part time jobs was also not a very pleasant experience. Yes, I had worked part time jobs before attempting to juggle three at once. But I had worked those while I was a student, so my job wasn’t my priority at that time. The reason I took on three at once was because I had just graduated from Undergrad U, hadn’t received any “real” job offers (even though I had applied to over 50 jobs!), and was on the verge of being homeless (a big thank you to all my friends with couches). The article made some valid points with the downfalls of part time work – less pay, less hours (obviously), and inconsistent scheduling. One of the jobs paid minimum wage and the other two were commission-based. That, along with the inconsistent scheduling, meant I had a VERY inconsistent pay check. The scheduling was honestly the worst part. Some weeks I’d have tons of hours, other weeks I’d be sitting at home and remember why I hated daytime TV. Also, I didn’t get my schedules until the Friday before the week of the schedule…that meant I had to wait to the last minute to plan EVERYTHING…hair appointments, doctor’s appointments, hanging out with friends, AND the hours I was supposed to work my other jobs. What’s worse, if I requested off one DAY or even part of a day (“Hey boss, I have a doctor’s appointment Tuesday afternoon, could you schedule me for morning only?”) my boss would definitely NOT schedule me for Tuesday (okay, fine, whatever) but also would schedule me LESS for the whole week because “I had less hours to give”. UMMM…WHAT?

While working part time is often necessary, being a part time student at a traditional four year college is something that can be avoided. I’m not saying that people shouldn’t be part time students ever…there are definitely ways that it can work! However, you need to make sure you’re aware of the differences between part time and full time student status! In the end, going part time cost me a lot more than being a full time student would have.

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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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Declining a Job Offer

Here’s something that I didn’t tell anybody for a LONG time – I turned down my first job offer. I told people that I just hadn’t heard back from the school. There were plenty of people NOT getting jobs and the economy was crap and I thought people would think that I was crazy for turning down a job. But honestly, I didn’t want to work there. I don’t think I would have been happy if I had accepted the job.

It just wasn’t the right fit and I think I kind of knew that going into the whole interview process with them, but it was such a well-known school that I think I may have been blinded by the bright lights. In this case, well-known also meant LARGE which was completely the opposite of what I wanted. Undergrad U and Grad School State were pretty big schools and I wanted a change. I wanted to work somewhere that all the departments worked together to put on programs. Heck, I wanted to work somewhere where people in other departments knew my name.

I mean, this would have been my ideal job, but something tells me that my parents would not have appreciated me getting my masters and then working at a bar…

The job description didn’t really align with what I wanted to be doing with my life. I love working with my student organizations and there was no guarantee that this job would have let me do that. I know I could have found my own way to working with these student groups, but I remember asking one of the current entry level professionals what tips she had for starting out in the job and the first thing she said was “to take a year to get used to it all before getting involved with campus.” UMMM WHAT? At a large school it is so easy to just say in your department. Too easy.

If you don’t want a job, do not feel obligated to accept the offer. Think about your future career goals and make sure the job that you are accepting can help you achieve those down the road. Also, it’s okay to not tell people about it. I think I was one of the first people in our program to be offered a job and I know that at the time, some of my classmates hadn’t even been offered on campus interviews. I didn’t want it to seem that I was bragging by talking about this job offer that I had gotten – only to turn it down. I didn’t tell my family either because they would have thought I was crazy and I know my mom would have guilt tripped me even more. She was already on my case for refusing to apply for a job that was twenty minutes from home. At the rate I was going, she was probably thinking that I was going to be living in a cardboard box after graduation.

So what happened after I denied my first job offer? Well, I’d love to say that a day later, my dream job called me up and hired me on the spot, but it didn’t happen that way. In fact…I didn’t have any other interviews lined up. I didn’t hear from the other school I had interviewed with on campus. I started from square one again and yeah, it sucked, but in the end I found a job that was MUCH better suited for me. I didn’t have another job offer until after graduation, but I was okay with that.


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