It has been wonderful to read about people navigating the Student Affairs job search process on Twitter. As usual, the #sachat community serves as a great mentor for those who ask for help—by reviewing resumes, practicing mock interviews or simply serving as a sounding board for people when they have questions. As we move into spring I have enjoyed reading the tweets from people about the final steps of the process--“I rocked the on-campus interview” or “The offer came and I said yes!”—are among my favorites that I have seen so far.
But this time of year can be tough if folks around you seem to be moving on a different timeframe (i.e., faster) or if you get the “thanks, but no thanks” email. It can be especially difficult if your dream school doesn’t offer you the job. Sometimes more than one school offers you and tough decisions have to be made.
A couple of things to consider:
1) If a school offers you a position and you turn it down, it does not necessarily close the door to working there in the future: I was offered a fantastic graduate assistantship at a school I admired and I turned it down because I had decided that I wanted to work full-time while getting my Masters degree at an institution closer to home.
I respectfully declined the offer and stayed in contact with the leadership of that department. Two years later, I had a Masters degree and felt ready to move on from my current position. This institution contacted me and said “let’s try this again!” and asked me to interview with them. Sometimes timing can be everything. I went on to take the job and was a Residence Hall Director for that institution for three years.
2) Getting a “no thanks” letter does not mean “no way,” it can mean “not now:” At my very first Oshkosh Placement Exchange (OPE) I applied for a graduate assistantship with a private school in a large urban area. I felt confident going into the interview. I did my homework on the school and had carefully prepared questions to ask the interview team. I left the interview smiling and rushed off to write the thank you note. I checked my mailbox about ten minutes after interviewing with this school and there was a letter in my mailbox saying “thank but no thanks” and that they were not going to pursue my candidacy at this time.
I slumped away, a little disappointed. What did this mean about me as a candidate? What I didn’t know then (and what I fully understand now) is that at 22 I wasn’t ready for this type of institution. The interview team (correctly) suspected that I would not fit with their department.
Did I ever cross paths with that institution again? You bet. I have been an Assistant Director for Residential Education at DePaul University for nearly five years now. The “no thanks” letter was a blessing in disguise. I went on to work at other schools and when the chance came around again I felt ready to pursue that opportunity. If you really like a school but it doesn’t work out right now don’t lose hope! It just might not be your time to be there...yet!
The bottom line is that you should have trust in the process! Do your best work, follow-up in a timely fashion with each school and have patience (easier said than done, I know!)
What have you learned from your job search process?