The Great Job Search of 2017: Staying Positive, Patient, and Persistent

naspa graduate associate program gap

Ashley Jeffers, Southern Illinois University Edwardsville

March 28, 2017

Ask any second year second semester graduate student what their greatest fear is as the month of May becomes more and more imminent. Some may say defending their thesis. Others will surely comment on the overwhelming pressure of preparing for comprehensive exams. Both of these fears, and others as well, are incredibly valid and hold great truth. However, one common theme remains among young professionals as we all begin our journey towards the light at the end of the tunnel that is our graduate education: what’s next?

I, for one, can comment on the incredible pressure the job search process has on an already stressed individual. However, if I’ve learned anything from this wild and strenuous process, it is that even in the midst of the madness, we must all remember this mantra: remain positive, remain patient, and remain persistent.

Remain positive. You will be told no. In fact, you will often not be told anything at all. You will have schools that you spend hours creating the “perfect” resume and cover letter for, only to find out that not only did they not choose you, they did not even reach out to let you know that you were not selected for interview. Yet, you must remain positive and confident. You are still enough. You are still very capable. Your dreams are far from out of reach. While you are trudging through your job search process, committees are working diligently to select a candidate from a large pool of qualified individuals, weighing pros and cons, finding good fits for not only a specific office, but also for a more broad community. Their decision is not easy, just as the process to apply to these countless positions is not an easy task for you. Just because you’ve been knocked down a few times, it does not mean that you cannot stand back up. See nothing as a failure, but rather as an opportunity to become better and learn more. Your time will come. Remain positive.

Remain patient. For the lucky few, the perfect career will fall into their lap overnight. For the rest of us, that just won’t be the case. Many mentors have told me that these job openings come in waves. If you decide that The Placement Exchange through NASPA is not a good fit for you and you’re trying to find your first job the old fashioned way, you must remember that oftentimes universities and colleges will have a plethora of openings become available in mid to late March after these specialized job placement conferences conclude. Does this mean that you shouldn’t be applying early in the first place to try and get yourself out there for employers to see? Of course not! However, it does mean that if you don’t feel like you’re ever going to find a job, give it some time. Great things seldom happen overnight. Remain patient.

Remain persistent. This is probably one of the most difficult pieces of advice for myself to internalize, but it is one of the most important pieces to the puzzle. There comes a point where you begin to become fatigued of the application process, putting forth great amounts of effort only to find your hard work has been disregarded or not selected for interview or hire. Morale can drop after so much rejection; this is completely understandable. However, you must continue. When the going gets tough, the tough gets going. You will not find your career by giving up. You will not know what your future has in store if you do not keep moving forward. Even when you’re tired and feel like throwing in the towel, this is the time to dig deep and persevere. Remain persistent.

Advice: always easier said than done. Remember, though, I am writing this from an experiential standpoint. My education through my graduate program and involvement through NASPA have truly equipped me with an arsenal of understanding. I know what it is like to feel overwhelmed, yet ready to jump headfirst into this field. We are a profession of givers. We are a profession of passionate helpers. We are the future, and The Great Job Search, no matter what year it may be, is just a molehill next to the mountain of reality that is the impact we can make when we continue to remember this mantra: remain positive, remain patient, and remain persistent.

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