Twas the night before TPE, when all through the house
All my clothes were lined up– all my pants and each blouse
My new padfolio sat by my email with cheer
In hopes that some job offers would soon appear!
I’m leaving my house in 8 hours. My flight is so early, it’s practically a red-eye. Hey, when you’re paying your way through 3 conferences, you have to do the cheap option! But before I leave, I wanted to blog about how I was feeling and what to expect. Then after TPE**, I want to contrast my experience with my expectations and see how it all came full-circle!
** See note at bottom for TPE explanation if you are not in Student Affairs!
First: I am SO thankful that I started the job application process so early! (Shoutout to past Amanda!) Y’all, job applications are no joke. Especially when there are so many great positions open that I want to apply for! I came up with some great tricks to help speed up the process, but it’s still a lot of work. Thankfully I have been working hard and have some amazing interviews lined up for TPE, and I cannot WAIT to meet some of these people in person!
And now, my official pre-TPE thoughts/advice:
How will I keep myself organized at TPE?!
This has definitely been my #1 concern of TPE. I am an (overly) organized person, and staying organized also helps keep me sane. I pride myself on doing plenty of research and knowing a lot about the school and the interviewers before interviews, but being able to keep this information organized is what worries me the most. Thankfully I have a great template that a friend passed on that has the name of the school, name of interviewer, school number, date and time, and room for notes and research that I am filling out before each interview. That way I have a “cheat sheet” I can look at when I’m in the holding room to make sure that I am thinking of the correct school’s information before the interview.
Have you ever met someone and then further down the road seen them again, but you can’t remember their name, so it’s just awkward and embarrassing?! That’s what I’m worried it will be like– “I think I remember reading XYZ on your website, but I can’t remember if it was you or another school.” I want to make sure I go into each interview as prepared as possible, so I can focus on the personalities, fit, and additional information they provide instead of remembering the basics.
Will I have enough time for myself?
I am a very strong WOO. Even though I thrive in high-speed and social environments, sometimes I thrive so much that I forget to take time to rest and recharge. Especially being a WOO with anxiety, I can sometimes become easily overwhelmed internally (although you would never see it externally) if I don’t give myself time to properly process and prepare for each individual interview. So, I went through my TPE schedule and marked off a half hour before and a half hour after each interview. That way, I have to take time between each interview! (I also scheduled time to eat, because I know I can get REAL hangry if I don’t eat!)
Have ways to quickly recharge
My partner has asked me one way he can support me best during TPE (because he was just in my shoes a year ago and definitely remembers what the process is like!) and I told him to just be on-call for when I need to talk and recharge. I’m an external processor, so talking to him (even just about my day and my schedule) can help me mentally sort through things and make me feel more organized and calm. Also, I made sure to have some handy go-tos packed to help me stay fresh quickly– toothpaste/mints, a brush, and lipstick. That way even if I only have 10 minutes, I can go to the bathroom to freshen up, give him a call, and be pumped up and ready to go!
Figure out your mission for being there
Are you going strictly for the job search? For networking? For professional development? For education sessions? For adventure? Pick it and stick with it! At these types of conferences, if you try to do everything you may get burned out too quickly. Remember, it’s a race, not a marathon! My #1 priority is job searching. With that comes networking: with other professionals, with those in my Division of Student Affairs at UF, with other #SAGrads and young professionals, etc. While I definitely anticipate attending some great sessions during NASPA, I know that I may not be able to attend everything, and that’s okay. I’m going in with my goals and some realistic expectations of what I can accomplish without burning out, and that way I won’t be disappointed later when I feel like I couldn’t “do it all”.
I’m nervous, but I’m kinda glad I am
I think that nerves are a good thing. They are my encouragement to work hard and prepare hard. They are a reminder that this is important to me and that I am excited. Sometimes I get a little too nervous and the nerves turn into anxiety, but I remember that I am so prepared for this. I haven’t worked hard the last two years for nothing! I have to remember that TPE is an experience. Which leads me to my next point…
I will come out with knowledge– not a job offer
Sometimes it’s hard to remember that TPE is just a big step in the process. I won’t come out with a job offer. But you know what I will come out with? Connections. Stories. A better understanding of what type of institution I want to be at. More confidence for more on-campus interviews. A better vision for where to go next. I was fortunately offered an on-campus interview in early February with an offer a few weeks after (!!!). Although I was ecstatic for the offer, one of my biggest hesitations for accepting it was my inability to compare it to other institutions. Of course it sounded great by itself– but I had no way to compare it to other experiences and know if it was the right fit for me. That’s one reason I am so excited for TPE– through talking with different professionals from different institutions and from different functional areas, I hope to gain more clarity from what I want to what I need. I need an institution where I can execute my knowledge while being challenged to grow as a professional. I need a place where I can continue my life with my partner, and hopefully finally adopt a dog! I may think I know what I want now, but talking with professionals first-hand should help illuminate where I actually need to be.
I CAN DO THIS
I’m ready for this. I’ve put in the work. I keep the advice in my head from “your first job isn’t your final job” to “don’t settle if you’re going to be unhappy” and back to “you can live anywhere for 1-3 years” to “don’t waste your life in a place where you aren’t growing because you’re too unhappy”. But honestly? I know myself the best and I know what I need to do (well, hopefully I will know!). I’ve had the strong education and experience to get me to this point. I have the strongest support from the best team of family, friends, and colleagues. I’m ready to work harder and be one step closer to “Yes, I DO accept your offer and would LOVE to work at your institution!”
I can do this.
I have no idea if I’ll end up blogging at TPE or not, but remember to follow me on social media at @Amanda_Koslow for more casual updates! If you are going to #TPE2017 or #NASPA17, please let me know! I would love to meet up with you.
Also, if you’re an #SAGrad attending, don’t forget the social Sunday evening!
quote (motivation) of the day: “I am not lucky. You know what I am? I am smart, I am talented, I take advantage of the opportunities that come my way and I work really, really hard. Don’t call me lucky. Call me a badass.” – Shonda Rhimes, Year of Yes
** The Placement Exchange is the largest Student Affairs career placement resource.