Job Search Reflection

Since I have been working in career development for the past year and a half, I have never felt as prepared for a job search as I feel for this search, at the apex of my graduate school experience. In my position, I assist Mount Union students with resumes – students who are drafting their first resumes, and others who are adding their latest experience or achievement into their carefully crafted document. I have led workshops on where to find position listings and others on preparing for interviews. As I have completed those two presentations, I feel encouraged that I will be able to take my own advice in my job search.

Before graduate school, I completed two job search campaigns. During my first search, as a college senior, I sought an entry-level position in residence life. I attended the Oshkosh Placement Exchange and made every mistake in the book. I had not prepared for standard interview questions, I failed to thoroughly research a couple of potential employers, and I missed an interview completely by waiting in the wrong tower of Gruenhagen. I left highly discouraged. I continued looking, expanding my search to include admissions, financial aid, and even positions outside higher education. After applying for 30 jobs I can remember, I received two offers, one in residence life at an institution in Iowa, and a second as the International Specialist in the Office of Admission at Saint Xavier University. I accepted the latter.

In my second year at Saint Xavier University, I began to look for opportunities elsewhere. In the fall, before I had made up my mind to go to graduate school, I applied for three jobs in international student advising. For each, I made my way to at least the phone interview stage, and two institutions invited me for campus interviews. In one case, I was one of only three they had invited to campus, and the other invited five candidates for two open positions. For each, I heard later they filled the positions with candidates who had more experience in student services. Despite the unsuccessful conclusion to that search, I was encouraged to have made it as far as I did. I decided to gain more varied experience through a graduate preparatory program, and found a match in the program at Kent State University.

Prepared as I feel for this search, my situation is quite complex. I accepted a two-month position at the American University of Bulgaria some time ago. The internship, in their student affairs office, will run from May through mid-July. The late date I will be available to start is complicating my search, as many employers hope to have their new hires start earlier. I also am focusing my search on international student services and career development. I decided not to attend placement events, which offer few positions in those two areas, and to focus instead on position listings available through NAFSA and its constituent groups, and NACE, the National Association of Colleges and Employers, which offer the greatest selection of positions in my areas. NAFSA’s Job Registry and NACE’s Jobwire have been particularly helpful resources. Since I am young and have few roots, I am keeping myself available for the right opportunity. I have been focusing my search primarily on the Midwest region and institutions within eight hours of Chicago. I have set up automated job alerts from HigherEdJobs.com to email me jobs that meet my criteria, and Evernote has been an incredibly useful tool for keeping track of the jobs for which I have applied, the status of each application, and organizing information about each possible employer.

I have applied for several jobs so far and have completed a few screening interviews. I believe that my summer internship commitment is hampering me from going further in the interview process, but as time progresses, I am confident that I will to find a position which will be flexible enough to allow me to start after I return or an employer so interested in me as a fit for their position that delaying my first day will be worth having me in the office.
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