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Remembering Your Value As An SAGrad: Final Year Of Grad School

Region II Graduate New Professional Undergraduate
November 23, 2020 Jack Nesmith Ramapo College of New Jersey

The final semester/year of graduate school can be an exciting time for student affairs graduate students as they prepare for the job searching journey known as the SASearch. For many student affairs professionals, the story of how they went from SAGrad to SAPro is filled with emotions, milestones, wins, tough days, and of course, the moment when they accepted a full-time position during the final stages of their personal search.

As current graduate students prepare for their future job search, the pressures of finding the right position, knowing your personal fit, and balancing graduate school during a pandemic can be a stressful time with a ton of unknown factors for aspiring professionals within the field.

During my SASearch, I used the following tips to help find my balance and personal motivation to keep going as a Graduate Residence Director while handing the daily responsibilities of my graduate role, preparing for my comprehensive exam, and planning my future path as an SAPro.

1. Create your vision for success- The SASearch can be an exciting, nerve-wracking, and amazing journey for SAGrads to start. From your first day of graduate school, the thought of what field, position, and type of environment you would like to work in are some thoughts you may have in your mind. Before you start those applications, make sure you see your success and tell yourself that you will become an amazing student affairs professional.

2. Find your circle and let them expand your growth- From friends to mentors, make sure you find people that will help you grow and feel empowered during your search. During those days waiting for application updates, preparing for interviews, and needing pep talks, keep those people in your circle close. Remember, you’re never alone during your SASearch and the people who love you will always be by your side.

3. Create your SA motivational playlist- During my time in graduate school, I created an SASearch playlist of music from anime I love (shoutout to Naruto, Dragonball Z, and Pokémon fans), hip-hop, rock, and pro wrestling themes to help me feel powerful.

Some of my personal favorite tracks on my job searching playlist:

  • “The Man” - Aloe Blacc
  • “Rosa Parks” – Outkast
  • “Champion” - Kayne West
  • “Alright” - Kendrick Lamarr
  • WWE Entrances (Sasha Banks, Shinsuke Nakamura, Bayley, Johnny Gargano, and a ton more!)
  • Anime Themes (DBZ, Naruto, FullMetal Alchemist, Pokémon, etc.)
  • Video Game Soundtracks (Pokémon Gold and Silver, Sonic The Hedgehog, Sonic 2, and Kingdom Hearts)

Music has always been an amazing motivator during my academic and professional positions and was a huge inspiration during the longer days of my job search. So before you have that interview, work on an assignment, or apply for a position, play a song that makes you feel stronger and go for the gold!

4. Keep track of your wins (big, small, and personal)- As you prepare for your job search, remember to reflect on how far you have come as a graduate student. You were accepted and will complete an amazing program while earning your Master’s degree (which is a big deal) and you should be proud! Remember that every win you have from an “A” on your research paper to sending in a job application is something to celebrate.
During my SAGrad days, I made a “win document” which had all my milestones I earned
during each month.

5. Self-Care: Make it a part of your planner- Don’t forget to reward yourself for all your hard work as a graduate student. You’re tackling your assistantship, classes, and other roles daily and you need a break. Take that day for yourself to watch a film, cook a new meal (or order out), and remember to treat yourself. Self-care can also mean taking time to “unplug” from the search and not think about the future or what your next move will be at this moment. Never felt guilty for taking care of yourself and remember to recharge those batteries so you can be 100% ready for your next goal.

Bonus: Enjoy your own journey- Everyone during their own SASearch will have a different timeline, goals, and results towards becoming a professional within this field. Some may earn positions before, during, or after graduation while others may find their positions months later. Enjoy the moment that happens for you to reply to your acceptance email, know that you
deserve it!

Your personal journey is one worth reading so make your book of success a bestseller and focus on your own wins during this stage of your student affairs experience.

Good luck to every SAGrad as they take on this upcoming SASearch with confidence, motivation, and determination for success. Remember your worth and that you got this!