Monday, March 31, 2014

The Other Side of the Desk: A former recruiter’s perspective #12

ACPA is in full swing this week, thus my networking hat is on tight and my blogging will take a hit for the next couple of days. Stay tuned for some delicious updates!

Saturday, March 29, 2014

The Beeline Broadcast, #12

Life Update: Spring Break

About a month ago my stress level reached its crescendo. My job search was putting stress on my relationship, I was frustrated by the lack of job postings, and I was feeling overwhelmed by the demands of my coursework as well as assistantship/internship demands. I am, after all, working at three different offices at two different institutions. At that point I decided I needed a vacation.

Because I'm a poor graduate student, I couldn't do anything remotely elaborate, like catch a plane to California or take a cruise to Aruba. Instead I decided to take a road trip up to Maine for a long weekend at the end of spring break. The idea was to completely remove myself from the multiple stressors in my life and have a little adventure. For the most part it worked, but the journey up the Mass Pike and onto 495 followed the path of at least six different schools that I submitted applications to.

I saw the mountains and I saw the ocean. I didn't think about job applications or rejection emails once.


The adventure was great, but now that I’m back I can already feel the stress starting to creep back in. I was hoping to have some sort of job squared away before I graduated, but I'm wondering if that was a realistic goal. I'm trying to grow comfortable with the idea that that may not happen. I have noticed that a slew of job listings have started to post in areas that I'm actually interested in (like academic advising, student support services, admissions and enrollment, etc.). I've received some rejection emails this week, but they were for positions that I knew were a stretch. I'm hoping that this new wave of applications will be a little more fruitful.

I think I need another vacation.

Monday, March 24, 2014

The Other Side of the Desk: A former recruiter’s perspective #11

Post-NASPA Hangover

Give me some aspirin and put me in a dark, silent room. I'm still, yes still, not from alcohol, but from overextending my energy into networking my face off at NASPA. Don't get me wrong; I thoroughly enjoyed the experience. It was a source of renewing commitment and passion for student affairs practice. I attended excellent presentations, keynote speakers, and even met up with the head honcho of to collaborate on an exciting project -more on that in the near future. 

But let me tell you something, I have never felt so overwhelmed than attending NASPA as an active job seeker. From day one, I was caught between trying to genuinely connect with other attendees and borderline stalking attendees around the conference center in order to peer at their name tags in desperation to discern who I should talk to. On top of it all, every grad student attendee seemed as though they went through TPE and when I introduced myself to others, the first question they asked, "so how was TPE?". I felt so underprepared, insecure, and like I was losing ground on the job hunt. 

I eventually forced myself to go outside where I had a come to Jesus moment with myself and I resolved that a) I need to forget about not attending TPE, b) be present with experience, and c) be OK with the efforts I did make no matter what. For the most part, I can say that I am happy I had that resolve and I think I made out alright. As you know, I posted my top 5 tips last week, so to close, I will recap on my successes and otherwise with them:

5) Use social media to connect with and compliment the speakers (via LinkedIN)
  • I found myself on Twitter a lot especially during some of the larger sessions like Wes Moore and Freeman Hrabowski. While I didn't necessarily receive any direct conversations back with the speakers, I found myself obsessively trying to capture inspiration statements, as well as engaging with other attendees who posted to the hashtag #NASPA14. Prior to NASPA, I was more of a social user, but now I'm hooked to use it for information sourcing and building connections. I plan to continue using it during ACPA next week to build more experience and report back.
  • I did not really use other social media except for LinkedIN to connect with contacts after the conference. 
4) Forget just giving out business cards - collect them (via LinkedIN)
  • Thankfully I was not a horder of sorts with my attempts to get cards, but because I sparingly focused on giving out mine, I was more engaged with those I spoke with and more apt to ask them for a card so I could personally follow up. 
3) Ask meaningful questions of the people you meet (via LinkedIN)
  • Being in the mid-atlantic region, the #1 question people ask after your name is "what do you do?". This question typically infuriates me beyond description because it's more often than not used to be reductive and condescending. Therefore, I found myself  inquiring about how those I chatted with found themselves getting into student affairs work and share my story with them. This was definitely helpful in many cases, one of my favorites of which was with a gentleman who works with second-year retention, so I got to wax philosophies with him for a while on the importance of retention. 
2) SMILE (via Bridgewater State University)
  • I'm a natural smiling person (at least that what I like to think), so whether or not this actually made a difference, who's to say?
1) Establish goals: pursue depth of knowledge, network, or learn something new (via Chronicle of Higher Education)
  • Obviously networking was my goal and while I didn't come away with any specific goals to brag about, I learned from this experience that you have to be prepared to talk about your own campus' current issues. I found myself talking to a Vice President for Student Affairs at a reception, and he shared with me about his challenges around creating diversity on a campus that isn't diverse. I then proceeded to mention that I recently worked on a project assessing my own institution's implementation of diversity, and he then said, "so tell me about your findings".  I nearly tripped up with my answer because it was a group project, and I could only remember certain details, but I faked it through semi-convincingly. However, I know that in the future, I will be more prepared!

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

The Beeline Broadcast, #11

Cover Letter Coup

Someone once told me that writing covers letters is easy. You basically make a template and plug in all the necessary information. Somehow I missed the memo, because writing cover letters takes me an awfully long time.

I'm not sure why it takes me years to write them. Maybe it's because I'm acting like a typical Type A perfectionist, or perhaps it's because I'm applying to a variety of positions that require different skill sets, but writing the cover letter takes a really long time. It's kind of a pain.

Back in November I was really confused about how to even write a cover letter. I asked some of my Career Services friends for help, and they gave me a basic rundown. I like to look at examples though, so my law school friend recommended that I visit the Vermont Law School website for sample cover letters. In all honesty, their Career Services website has been incredibly helpful in crafting my cover letters.

There are so many samples to look at. Some of the examples are geared toward internship applications, but others are for job positions. Law writing is very concise, which is a great style to emulate for a cover letter. I've swiped things like transitional phrases and basic structure from the examples the website provides. Then I just adapt everything to my SA experience. The "company" I research is the college. My skills and research reflect my work in higher education.

I know it's a bit of an unorthodox approach, but it works. If anyone else has cover letter resources that you really like, please let me know!

I provided the link to the examples below. After clicking the "useful downloads" link, simply click "Cover Letter Preparation" for tips about cover letter structure and examples of cover letters. 


P.S. My post is a little early this week because I'm headed up to Portland (Maine) this weekend for my last moments of spring break. Woo hoo! But really, I love Maine.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

The Beeline Broadcast, #10

Tips on the Fly

After the hard drive crashed on the office computer during my first week as an intern, I was moved to a different computer closer to the hallway. This situation actually worked in my favor because I now see a lot of traffic throughout the day, such as the Director of Marketing. She's entered the habit of providing me with nuggets of advice as she rushes past my desk. Here are some of the highlights:

1) Always dress for your next position
2) Make sure your department needs you
3) Don't lose sight of your actual job duties*

*The idea is that once you start to get good at your job, other people will ask you to do things because you're known as the person that "gets stuff done." The problem arises when you start to lose sight of your original duties because you're too busy doing other things. Hence, don't lose sight of your actual job duties! She also has a tip about "cleaning your pigeon cage," but I'm going to need some more clarification about that one. To be continued!

P.S. I know this entry is short and sweet, but I've been feeling under the weather this past week (and am only now recovering). Best of luck to anyone that participated at TPE!

The Other Side of the Desk: A former recruiter’s perspective #10

Top Five Job Hunting/Networking Tips at NASPA

This week's blog will be short as I'm currently on a train to Baltimore for NASPA.  As I mentally prepare myself for the overwhelming maniacal whirlwind that is to come, I want to share a top five tips list that I've put together culling from a variety of websites. I hope to knock off as many of these as I can during NASPA and I will expand on them/share my success and failure for next week's blog. So here we go:

5) Use social media to connect with and compliment the speakers (via LinkedIN)
4) Forget just giving out business cards - collect them (via LinkedIN)
3) Ask meaningful questions of the people you meet (via LinkedIN)
2) SMILE (via Bridgewater State University)
1) Establish goals: pursue depth of knowledge, network, or learn something new (via Chronicle of Higher Education)

Here we go!

Monday, March 10, 2014

The Other Side of the Desk: A former recruiter’s perspective #9

TPE: Job Hunting Gone Wrong

Conference season commences this week,  beginning with NASPA and the "necessary" evil that is TPE. Several of my cohortmates have undergone a process of self-induced panic and anxiety in preparation for TPE: filling out applications, contacting employers, and creating a laundry list of potential interview questions. Where as I? I am doing none of the sort as I have adamantly rejected any persuasion of attending TPE.

Reason being is that I remain a skeptic about the realistic effectiveness of such a chaotic process. The job hunt is competitive as it is, now you want to put me in a room with other candidates and interview competitively like I'm in the Hunger Games? No thanks. My biggest gripe with TPE is that candidates are asked to pay on average about $100ish (depending on if you were on your game and registered early) to participate. I'm sorry, but nothing sounds more ridiculous than asking someone to pay money to find a job. 

Yes pragmatists, I understands that there are costs associated with putting on such an event, but why push the cost on the candidates? We grad students are cash-strapped as it is! If anything, it should really be a cost fronted completely by the employers; what a difference that might make in the experience. 

My recruiting experience taught me that paying to find a job creates unrealistic expectations and demands from the consumer. You want to get what you pay for, and in this world of employment wheel of fortune, there are no guarantee that you will get a job through TPE. But you're paying for the interview experience...cut the crap, as a grad student you can get that experience for free by visiting your campus career center. 

Listen, I am not a complete hater. I think that for some, the experience will pay off. I extend sincere congratulate to them for having the odds be in their favor. For the rest of the poor souls, they are S.O.L. I can think of many more meaningful ways to spend that money instead of paying for interviews, like my rent. 

So what's the game plan for me then you ask? I will use my time wisely during the actual NASPA conference to network and connect with professionals, attend receptions, and sit in on business meetings. There's zero certainty that this strategy will be fruitful, but at least I still have $100 in my pocket.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

The Beeline Broadcast, #9

Interview Tips From a High School Principal

One of my courses is "Counseling the College Bound Adult," which is helpful in my work with high school students participating in a dual enrollment program at a community college. Most of the students in my class are in the School of Counseling program, so when the principal of a local high school spoke to our class regarding the interview process, much of his advice was geared toward future guidance counselors.

Despite the fact that I'm interested in a different field, I really liked his tips and found them to be pretty universal in application. Here are some of his finer points:

Do Your Research
Make sure you read up on the school. Know the school's mission. Demonstrate your knowledge by incorporating your research into your cover letter. This will make you stand out from other candidates. You want to prove why you are a good fit.

Have Questions Ready
If you don't have any questions, you may as well walk out of the interview. Make sure you have good questions too. You don't want to ask for a factoid that you can easily find through a quick Google search.

You Better Be a Reader
Don’t stop reading! During interviews the principal asks each candidate what he or she is currently reading. Once he had an otherwise great candidate who really stumbled on this question. Finally she asked if the Bible counted. Of course it counts! He wants to know that you're interested in learning and continuing to learn. Reading is important.

Use a Binder
It's great to bring a binder with supplemental material, but don't pass the binder around the room. The search committee will glance over the pages and not truly absorb the information. Instead use the material in your binder as a reference point. For instance, if the committee asks how you would construct a lesson plan, say, great, let me show you a lesson plan I created...

It's Okay to Have Talking Points
If you're nervous and need talking points to keep you focused, it's okay to have those written down in your binder. It's also okay to have questions written down beforehand. (I always assumed it reflected badly on your preparatory skills if you couldn't memorize your questions or talking points beforehand. Guess I was wrong!)

Know Your Core Values
Know your core values, and don't apologize for it. The principal cited his own interview for a vice principal position at a high school in California. Someone from the search committee demanded to know what he wanted to be when he grew up. The now-principal stood up and said, "I want to run a school in an urban district and implement policies and practices that will help underrepresented populations pursue higher education." BAM. He was hired for the position. The point is that you want to find the right fit, so don't be shy about voicing your values.

When scheduling the interview, ask who you are interviewing with. This will prepare you for what to expect during the interview. At the principal's high school, candidates will interview with the search committee, students, and parents. One candidate cried during an interview because he was entirely unaware that he was interviewing students and parents too. (Back when I interviewed for a position in December, I really wished I had asked who I was interviewing with. This would have helped immensely when I wrote my thank-you letters. I had to do some serious investigating to remember who was on the search committee.)

Visit the School
Ask for a visit before the interview. This will give you the opportunity to get a sense of the school's culture and student body. (For us higher ed people, I've always been encouraged to visit the campus before the interview. It's a great time to talk to students about current issues on campus, and then you can later incorporate these conversations during the interview.) 

Hope these tips helped! :)

Monday, March 3, 2014

The Other Side of the Desk: A former recruiter’s perspective #8

Resume Miranda Rights: Anything (no really, anything) you say can and will be used against you in a job search

For this week's blog post, as I'm still no further with the job hunt, I was thinking about writing a semi-reflectively post about a great InsideHigherEd article I read about treating students as customers. BUT, I just had a major question come up while working on my resume just now that warrants some thought: to what extend could an employer discriminate against me based on what I put on my resume? 

A little back story: All throughout my resume, it is evident that I have a lot of experience interacting with the deaf community*. From ASL classes to my thesis topic/an upcoming conference presentation (which studies the college experiences of students who are deaf), it's hard to miss that I have some relationship to the communityTherefore, there is a likelihood than an employer could very well assume that I'm deaf, and just maybe decide to discard me from the pile because of it.

This is controversial to even think, much less say, and I hate to believe this might be the case. Realistically speaking from my previous experience though, I know how much time and energy hiring takes, and I have also witnessed how employers make snap judgments when picking candidates to ensure a hassle-free interview process. Thus, depending on the subjective nature of the employer, including words or phrases in a resume that disclose certain identities might cause them to reconsider a candidate due to bias or prejudice. 

Such thoughts give way to a slippery slope known as the political game of social identity. Race, class, gender, sexual orientation, disability, you name it, these identities still suffer at the hand of those who are in positions of power and privilege. Those who are not interested in adjusting their work environment to accommodate individuals who are not like them. While we as practitioners fight the good social justice, fight, we cannot ignore that not all of peers in the field are willing to die on the hill for equity and equality for causes they don't believe in. I recognize such beliefs stemming from the socially constructed perspective of perceived threat and survival - that goes beyond simple explanation here.  

So, while I have no answers for how we overcome those people, I just continue to hope that institutional/organizational push for exposure to and appreciation for difference and diversity remains a priority.

I close really by arguing that words matter on the resume that go beyond grammar and syntax (which are important too!), and I wonder what is the right path to take in such a situation when we, plebeians of the student affairs world, are at the mercy of the gatekeepers known as the hiring manager or HR? I suppose that if this reality exists during my interview process, then I'm better off being turned down for jobs, instead of hiding pieces of me that are genuinely important. I embrace my identities, so my employer had better embrace them too.

Perhaps I'm over thinking all of this, but if such thoughts have crossed your mind, please share your story with me!

*My interest started when I moved to northeast 5 years ago, and I noticed people signing everywhere. My interest turned into a hobby and a hobby into a passion, and I have dedicated myself as an advocate for the deaf and hard of hearing community ever since.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

The Beeline Broadcast, #8

Motivation for the Melancholy

I feel like I’m in limbo. This week I didn't find any job listings that fit my criteria, and I haven't heard back from any of the positions I previously applied for. Actually, I did hear back about one job posting. They didn’t select my application for further review. I'm not really surprised because I was a little underqualified. it was a position for a Writing Center Director, and based on the job description the search committee was looking for candidates with a serious background in rhetoric and composition theory. I figured I'd try to swing it anyway, since rhet/comp is something I have studied before and would like to study in the future. Although I'm not exactly surprised that the search committee didn’t select my application, the rejection is still a little disappointing.

I’m also in stasis because there are possible job openings at the institutions I'm currently interning at. The departments are definitely aware that I'm interested, but there's nothing I can do to take more action. I have to wait for search committees to convene, job positions to post online, and so on and so forth. It’s hard to sit back and wait!

I keep reminding myself that the hiring cycle for higher ed doesn't really happen until the summer. Also, I should relax. Also, I need to stop being such a whiner.

Here's an inspirational quote, courtesy of my bffl Pinterest, that's encouraging me to keep plugging away: