Holy Grad School, Batman!

I’ve been preparing myself for how incredibly busy this last semester of grad school was going to be pretty much since I started last year. I knew, somewhere deep inside that place in my stomach where anxiety sleeps, that a full course load, my assistantship, advising, and job searching were going to steamroll me.

But I didn’t really understand until it happened. I was trying to schedule watching a movie with my friends today (not even in a theater, a DVD), and during every day and time that they suggested, I need to be doing homework. My job search process has blissfully wound down (more details at another time), but that time has certainly been replaced by the number of events and programs I need to plan and attend in the next few weeks. I’ll turn in my last assignment and presentation on the DAY of my graduate recognition ceremony, just hours before I’m hooded.

It appears that the final weeks of graduate school are going to progress much in the same vein as every other end-of-semester rush for me. Nose to the grindstone and don’t stop for air until May 5.

But let me tell you; on May 5, I’m probably going to start realizing how much I’m going to miss it.

Thou shalt love each other.

We all know job searching is not easy. Three months after starting my first professional job search, I will be the first person to tell you that. I’m no expert; indeed, I am not done with this process, rather, I’m just starting out. But since I have many opinions, I’m going to weigh in with some job searching advice.

Be nice to each other.

The life and times of grad students in our last semester is getting intense. Okay, maybe it’s always been intense.  But with our capstones/theses/comps, the normal rigor of other grad classes, the demands of assistantships, the pressures of real life just around the corner, and the job search process, stress is high. As I write, hundreds of my peers and colleagues are gearing up for TPE at orientation, and C3 at ACPA is just around the corner. And although I’m not going to a placement conference this year, I and countless others are scheduling phone interviews like crazy (one each day this week, for example).

Have I stressed you out yet? Probably if you are going through all of this, you are thinking either “Yeah, sure, that sounds about right” or engaging in some type of panicked behavior. If it’s the latter, I’m really sorry. Have a good cry and an ice cream, you deserve it.

My point here is not to stress everyone out though; my point is to subtly remind everyone of what’s important, meaningful, and lasting: our friendships. So let’s make sure that we stay nice to each other throughout this crazy rat race. Here’s the truth: we are applying to the same jobs. But honestly, we can each only take one. So there’s really no point in getting crazy and competitive about this whole business. Let’s be happy for each other. We’ve been through the trenches together, friends. We’ve spent the past 2 years in libraries and coffee shops, burning the midnight oil together. We’ve supported each other through campus tragedies, offered advice on working with student issues, volunteered at events and programs, celebrated in triumphs, and commiserated in failures. We have always been in this together, and things should be no different now.

So no matter what, let’s remember to be good to each other. Goodness knows, we all need a little extra love right now, don’t we?

Job Searching: Like an Extra Job that I Don’t Get Paid For (Yet)

My Google Calendar looks like a game of Tetris. I’m fairly convinced that the beginning of spring semester is so terribly busy because everyone at any given institution is refreshed, renewed, and ready to delegate, collaborate, (and by February, commiserate). January and February are a Student Affairs marathon: RA Recruitment and Selection, major new programs, events, and initiatives, recruitment for many student groups, presentations, conferences, retreats, grad program interview days, and so much more.

Don’t get me wrong, I down right love this stuff. I’m a human interaction junkie. But we all know that this time of year is completely exhausting. I am going to wake up some morning in March and have a student engagement hangover (this is characterized by a mild sinus infection and the sudden realization that I have an annotated bibliography due in 2 days).

And this year, for kicks, Job Searching has been tossed into the milieu of my life. Okay, it’s not really for kicks, it’s because I’m graduating and would very sincerely love to have gainful employment and a place to live.

THE JOB SEARCH (this is how I think of it, in all capital letters, also it’s in Sean Connery’s voice in my head) takes a considerable amount of time. Cover letters don’t write themselves? I can’t get a text alert every time a new job is posted? Whoopsies! If only this were the case, I wouldn’t be job searching during breakfast, lunch, and dinner. But one month into THE JOB SEARCH, I am determined to be aggressive and invest as much time as possible, because this is really my future. Dual job searching makes things even more lovely and amusing; I am seriously considering putting a map up on the wall and noting his and hers application locations. At least I feel that my prioritizing and organizational skills gained during grad school have prepared me to orchestrate an intense job search.

Perhaps the silver lining is that I’m still very optimistic; after all, it’s still a bit early for rejections.