The Placement Exchange, better known as TPE, is just six days away! Those three letters “T”, “P”, and “E”, carry a variety of emotions for candidates, previous candidates, and even for the employers involved! While we can be met with feeling nervous, excited, or an odd, ever-changing mixture of the two, it’s important to remember that we have the potential to shape this experience for ourselves.
I was curious about how those who have participated in TPE Onsite made meaning out of their experience- beyond the results they may have received. I can find the logistical answers about the TPE Onsite event and can practice additional interview questions, however, I really wanted to learn how those who have been at TPE Onsite before me navigated their processing of TPE, and what advice they could offer from their processing. Fortunately, I was able to connect with a few professionals who were previous candidates at TPE. I asked them to reflect on their TPE experience, and consider what their own definition of “TPE” was.
Maren Reisch, a Project Coordinator at the MIT Sloan School of Management offered:
Proactively manage your
“Think about what you want to accomplish before you get to TPE Onsite. How do you want to connect with interviewers? Choose to engage with institutions and roles you think you'll connect with, but keep an open mind because other places will reach out to you. Proactively manage your expectations. It's so easy to get your hopes up about a particular role or institution, and that makes it much harder if things don't work out. Thinking strategically and proactively can put you in a much better mental space to engage meaningfully with interviewers. Keep your mind and heart open!”
I appreciated how Maren spoke to the reality that is this: we may fall in love with a position and it simply may not work out. It can be difficult to predict how we may respond to position notifications. Yet, if we engage authentically and think about TPE beyond landing a job, it can help many of us from diving too deep into disappointment.
Grace Bagunu, the Student Affairs SOLES Collaborative Coordinator at the University of San Diego, also contributed a definition around the significance of being process-oriented:
“I always say it's a full-time job to get a full-time job, and you have to trust the process; seriously, if you put in the time and the effort you will find that job that is meant for you.”
After reading Grace’s words, I was reminded that the process is what it is for a reason. Being intentional about how we conduct the job search, whether through TPE or outside of it, will only allow for better-fitting opportunities to come our way.
Mario Garibay, the Coordinator of Student Activities for Warren College at the University of California, San Diego, spoke to his experience of gauging the high-energy environment.
“For someone who borders extrovert and introvert, the TPE experience had a slow start for me. I had to find my rhythm. Once I did though, I loved it. I really got into my groove (albeit a bit later in the game). I equated it to the Go-See episode of America’s Next Top Model. Adrenaline pumping as you go interview to interview.”
TPE Onsite can be quite the marathon, but definitely not like the ones some of us may be used to on Netflix or Hulu! I enjoyed Mario’s take on the definition. The charm I personally found in his words was to be patient with yourself. It can be helpful to take time to adjust to the experience and do our best to not compare experiences.
The last professional I was able to connect with was Marina Mantos, the Assistant Director for Greek Life at the University of California, Irvine. Marina gave advice based on three main themes:
Time: Timing is important at TPE because you’ll want to make sure you don’t overcommit yourself. Be sure to carve out time for meals, snacks, and homework if you have it! TPE may feel like a separate world, and in a sense it is, but you’ll have to go back to your normal day to day eventually.
Place: You will spend so much time in the same area that you may see the TPE space in your dreams. Utilize your time in between interviews to not only prepare, but to explore the space a bit. It will help keep you active, and you may be able to find a nice place to nap when you have a longer break!
Experiential: Take time to enjoy the experience, connect with your future colleagues, maybe even set up a meeting to have coffee with someone you met using #SAGrad on Twitter. Unless you do TPE again, when will you be able to say you had 15+ interviews in the span of a few days? When will you be able to meet fellow new and mid-level professionals from a multitude of campuses across the nation in one place? TPE, while it can be stressful, tiring, and hectic, is by far one of my favorite experiences I’ve had in the profession, and I cannot emphasize enough how important it is to just embrace the experience for what it is worth.
I loved these four professionals’ interpretations of “TPE” based on their personal experiences! I wonder what three words will resonate with me most after my TPE experience, even after one, five, or ten years later!
As of right now, my definition is this: TPE is The Personal Experience. In six days, I will be in a space of hundreds of people. Each individual, including myself, will have unique and unforgettable experiences that are all worth embracing. I am looking forward to how my experiences take shape and hope to meet those inside the Interview Hall who would be open to sharing their story, too, as we craft them and make meaning of our experience day to day, interview to interview, at TPE!