The Post-Conference Reflection

Today is the first day I’ve been in my office since March 10. In going to TPE to search for jobs, NASPA to network and learn, then almost immediately turn around and go to an on campus interview, it’s been a long 17 days, my friends! As that stands, It’s given me some time to think about my time at the conference and how I’d like to reframe this blog in the future. So from the beginning…

Hahaha no, I won’t give you 17 days of play-by-play action. Instead, I’ll say that TPE (The Placement Exchange) is a rewarding but exhausting experience. If any of you are reading this as SA grads who haven’t searched yet, I’m going to give you some unsolicited advice.

  • First, don’t shotgun your job search. From someone who is extremely extroverted, I promise you that 25 interviews in 3 days is way too many. I don’t regret my choice to do so many, but I was edging on regret by Saturday evening.
  • Second, you have to eat during the day. No, I’m not talking about a few Clif Bars here and there (made that mistake). Thursday I thought I could get away with interviewing from 9am-7pm and only eating them. NOPE. Wanted to cry by 7pm. The next day I took the time to run to Jimmy John’s for a sandwich and it made a marked difference for the second half of my day. Don’t sacrifice meals for interviews.
  • Third, you are interviewing from the time your pretty little self lands in the airport to the time you’re back in your home. Talking poorly about other candidates or employers shouldn’t ever happen, and especially shouldn’t happen in public places. Additionally, there are ALWAYS conference people around you (in the bathroom, on the escalator, in the parking garage, on the street corner…you catch my drift), so even if you’re not talking about a specific person or school, if you’re being a Negative Nancy, someone’s bound to hear it…
  • …And when those people hear it, they’re going to tell someone who’s interested in you because—my fourth and final point—everybody knows somebody. I know anyone of us who has a mentor has heard this time and again, but it’s really true. My mentor from undergrad knew someone on the search team at one of my top schools. My former supervisor knew someone who knew an AD at a different top school and we ended up sitting next to each other at a social. It will inevitably happen that someone you know knows someone who interview someone who knows you…you get where I’m going.

While some of this advice is also applicable to NASPA attendance, there are some other points about NASPA that I think warrant pointing out.

  • Your presenters are people too. I had a total fangirl moment when I went to the #BloggingBravely session because there were some #SAChat powerhouses presenting, but it was truly just a conversation when we all met up afterwards and chatted. After a session about college jargon and the impact on low income students who can’t talk the talk, I spoke to the presenter and got her contact info. If you really like someone’s topic, don’t hesitate to reach out to them.
  • In public spaces, engage with the other people sitting around. I met so many people sitting at a charging station or in line for coffee or just by sharing a table with them. I understand that some people need their “me” time, but these public spaces are for making those connections.
  • See number three above. It’s still applicable during NASPA.
  • Keep business cards on you. I gave away and received more cards than I ever have before just to be able to connect with people, so bring a stack with you!

As I round out this post, I think it’s important to note for some of my followers that I know this is a very work-related post on what is usually a personal blog. I don’t believe in having a work and personal account for things (blog to come on this topic), so I’ll still be doing personal posts, but I will also be moving this toward being a blog about my professional experiences as well. Hope y’all enjoyed!

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