- Anonymous:How important is this next step out of graduate school? It seems easy to place a lot of weight/stress on the job search and making the "right" move.
It is incredibly important, but not for the reasons you might think.
You should not be stressing if this job puts you in-line for your next job. Nor should you worry if the institution is respected in our field.
The biggest factor in your first position is trying to find some place where you can be happy for 2-3 years. Being happy, supported, and comfortable are huge determinants in how well you do your job, which in the greater scheme, influences how easily it will be to get your next job.
You can’t be approaching your search only from the perspective of 3 years out, you will drive yourself into the ground. The best is to find a nice middle ground, by understanding your present situation.
Now say you want to do residence life work, and find this perfect job in a wonderful city, but they don’t have a conduct component, and you know that you need conduct experience to move up in 2-3 years. If you can find happiness take the job.
The way our field works is that there is so much work to do, that you can always volunteer your time and you get welcomed with open arms. If you take that job you can walk over to the conduct office, and say, “I would love some experience, is there any way I can help?”
One of my favorite questions in an interview is to ask about opportunities for professional practicums, or chances to work for other offices. You want to know if you have the ability to pursue your interests regardless if they are in your job description.
Landing a job that encompasses all of the things you want is rare to find all at once. But know there are elements that are under your control, and most of those include your responsibilities and where you can donate your time.
The biggest thing you need to suss out when you are interviewing is if it will be a place where you will find joy. Because if you aren’t fulfilled, leading you to burn out and leave mid semester or after your first year, you better have a good reason for it. To be honest, when I’m reading resumes and I see someone has spent only a year at one institution, it’s going to be my first question.
To be clear you will not know if you will be happy at an institution until you go on campus. The world you see at a convention is so small, but when you immerse yourself, stay over night, and spend some quality time with an institution is when you will start to know. This is the time you can get picky and stressed about making the right move. But that stress should come after you interview on-campus though, not during. Don’t spend your first night in the hotel room thinking “Do I like this place? Do I like the people?” Focus on the task at hand. The pressure and the stress come when you have to make a decision. You are in no position to discount anything, you are going to be unemployed very soon, concentrate on being wanted instead who you are going to reject.
When I was applying for grad schools, I was talking with my mentor about what schools to look at, and he said very plainly, “Colby you can do anything for two years.” Which is correct, but not a truth. The truth is that yes you can do anything for two years, but you will find success, excel, and gain a positive reputation in an environment where you are content.
Interviewing is just like dating, but this time you are looking for something lasting, and you want to make sure your values, motivations, and desires are in-line with the institution you will be partnering with. This is a committed long-term relationship, and you don’t want to just jump right into it.
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