TPE is an amazing, exciting, anxiety-producing experience. Completing even one interview at TPE Onsite is a feat worth celebrating! Take time to be present and acknowledge your accomplishments as you wrap up your TPE experience. Remember the quest for that perfect opportunity does not end with The Placement Exchange. Here are a few things to consider doing after TPE Onsite, in no particular order.
Appropriately, of course. TPE Onsite is a big deal, and you should take the time to acknowledge the small victories along the way. The job search can be a whirlwind, so take time for yourself. Celebrating the little things can help you be mindful and present during the commotion of the job search.
2. Send Thank You and Follow-Up Emails
Employers are interviewing tons of candidates, so sending a quick thank you can go a long way. Send them after each interview round you have with an employer. I know it may seem trivial but, at an interview, I noticed that the employer had my hand written card in a folder with my resume and cover letter. You should follow up according to the timeline provided by the employer. Some employers will respond and others will not. Don't let that be an immediate indicator one way or another about where you are in the process. If the employer informs you of an additional application, let them know when you complete it. Complete the application as soon as it is available. If the employer asks you to wait for an application to open and they don't have a set date for the application to go live, follow up with them on a weekly or bi-weekly basis. It's likely that the employer will establish some schedule for updating candidates, but it shouldn’t hurt to be proactive if they have not communicated one.
3. Attend the Socials, if You’re Invited
Many employers have socials during TPE Onsite, and a fair amount may invite you to a social during the NASPA Conference. If you're invited to socials go and connect with the person(s) that invited you. Make sure
you converse with people and do your best to engage, even if you're not the most social person. Let the employer know if you get an invite to a social during the NASPA Conference, but don't plan to attend the conference. There's always a chance that the employer plans to introduce you to people.
4. Notify Employers if Your Plans Change
Don't make the mistake of failing to notify employers if you decide you're no longer interested in a position, or you've accepted another position. Notifying employers of changes is a professional courtesy that goes a long way.
5. Keep Applying to Jobs!
The search process doesn't stop until you've signed a contract with a prospective employer.
6.Continue to Check the TPE Website
There may be new job postings on the website, so continue to look until your contract is signed.
7. Compare Offers and Continually Evaluate Fit
As you get offers for on-campus interviews, continue to compare your offers and evaluate fit. Only take on-campus interviews if you feel that you can actually see yourself working there. Though it can be tough to decline an on-campus interview, notifying the employer allows them to continue their search process as well. Be mindful that everyone’s search looks different and so does the number of offers.
8. Ask the Right Questions
As you attend on-campus interviews, the questions you ask are critical. The questions, and how you ask them will determine the responses you get. For example, if you want to assess the level of collegiality in a department or on a
campus, don't just ask what collegiality looks like. Ask questions that solicit examples. Try asking, “can you give me some examples of projects that you're working on collaboratively within the department or a cross campus?” Follow up with, who are the key players in this project, (i.e., who is carrying out the work.). Understanding who is doing the work, may allude to how the power is distributed and what collegiality looks like in action at a given institution. Please note that the aforementioned questions are examples and may not be the “right” questions to ask during all interviews.
9. Avoid the Comparison Trap by Any Means Necessary
It can seem almost impossible to avoid comparing your job search and TPE experience to those around you. Evading comparisons can be especially hard if you're in a cohort and your cohort mates attend TPE Onsite. You'll want to compare notes after every interview and see how your experiences measure up. It'll be very tempting to compare experiences as people in your cohort or colleagues move further in searches or get offers. EVERY SEARCH LOOKS DIFFERENT! Cherish these words when you want to compare, particularly if you're searching outside of residence life and housing. Many of my colleagues in varying functional areas announced acceptances after colleagues in residence life publicly noted their positions. Timelines look different across functional areas and institution by institution.
10. Take Care of Yourself!
The very fact that "Take Care of Yourself” is the last tip in this blog post is problematic. The placement of “self-care” in this piece is, unfortunately, reflective of our field. We take care of our students, but not ourselves. We preach self-care, but often have a minimal idea of what it actually looks like in our own lives. Take care of yourself because the search process is exhausting. Find the thing that brings you peace in the midst of the chaos surrounding you. TPE Onsite is a really high energy and extroverted occasion, so it's really important to know yourself in that self-care piece. There's a quiet room at TPE Onsite, which is a great space for us on the introverted side. The reality is that you are searching for the next right thing in the midst if a critical juncture in the history of the profession of student affairs. The next decade will be a redefining period in our field and in our lives. Negotiating the “right fit” under current circumstances requires a whole lot of self-care. Here’s one bonus tip: read Where You Work Matters (Hirt, 2006)! I read this book during my last semester of graduate school. Now that I have changeed institution types, I see how relevant this book is. I was skeptical at first of a book that made broad generalizations about experiences across various institution types. The truth is this book is grounded in research, and is a very good guide for understanding institution types and the varying nuances amongst them.