Division of Student Affairs
2011 NASPA Conference
Ten Tips to Surviving the Placement Exchange and NASPA Conference
By: Anna Costa
As a graduate student, the job search is something that both excites and frightens you. Taking part in placement exchanges can be overwhelming and tiring. I was able to attend The Placement Exchange and NASPA conference with the help of Graduate Assistant Professional Development funding and survived. Here are the ten tips I have for individuals who will be searching in the future or helping a graduate student search in the future:
- Stay for the conference! There are so many receptions and socials for the institutions with which you interviewed. It is important to stay and take advantage of more networking opportunities. Additionally, you can take advantage of the information given at sessions. Having the opportunity to explore different philosophies and best practices is something that will help you in the job search and your future job.
- Be selective! Only apply for jobs you know you would take or places you would consider working. It is important that you have the best intentions when interacting with professionals who will soon be your colleagues. Remember, the field is small.
- Be smart about scheduling! One thing I wish I knew is that some schools will interview on the half hour and some will interview on the hour. When starting to schedule, be sure you schedule on the hour so you can accommodate different institutions. Try the best you can to leave at least a half hour between interviews. This half hour gives you time to prep for the interview, send a thank you, use the restroom, and make sure you are in the right place. Most institutions will want to do second interviews on Friday or Saturday, so be sure to save some time to fit these in.
- Reach out! The best part of the placement for me was making new friends. In the candidate waiting rooms, there is time to socialize, so do not be afraid to introduce yourself. Before you know it, you will have your own little support team made up of candidates from around the country. You will have some future colleagues to visit with during the conference as well.
- Take a chance! If you are interested in some of the positions posted, but did not have the chance to apply beforehand, put together a packet for the employer with your resume and a generic cover letter to express your interest in the position. You may be pleasantly surprised and have the chance to schedule an interview.
- Remember the golden rule! Treat others as you wish to be treated. Your appreciation for your cohort and peers will grow vastly during this time. Show them the same support you would like to receive. Do not think of each other as competitors, it is important to be there for one another during the search. Your peers can help you decode messages from employers, get ready for a social, or prepare you for an interview.
- Make the most out of your time! It is so easy to get tired and frustrated during placement. Try to remember that going through placement and having interviews scheduled is an opportunity, not a burden. Make it a point to give your best and go to any socials you are invited to.
- Be prepared! Make it a point to research the institutions you are interviewing. Know what you are getting yourself into! Do not wait until last minute to research employers. Have extra copies of everything on-hand.
- Be yourself! In the end, you have to be happy where you are. Make sure you are making yourself happy in this process.
Breathe and take time for yourself! Try to make time to explore the conference city to get away and reflect for a while.
The Sidney A. Ribeau President's Leadership Academy at NASPA
The 2011 NASPA conference in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania provided a wonderful opportunity for others in the profession to hear about the Sidney A. Ribeau President's Leadership Academy (PLA). Dr. Julie Snyder, Associate Dean of Students and Director of the PLA, and I, a PLA doctoral intern, presented a session at the conference titled, “Encouraging a Life of Purpose Through Servant Leadership” on March 14. The Student Leadership Programs Knowledge Community also selected the program as one of three sponsored sessions.
The session explored how student leadership programs can be a central vehicle for helping to create citizens who live a life of purpose. The PLA at Bowling Green State University was presented as an excellent example of such a program. The session focused on the comprehensive, four-year, cohort-based leadership development program that has existed for over 10 years at BGSU and that has a curriculum grounded in the Social Change Model of Leadership and steeped in the theory of servant-leadership. The session explored the successful practices used to achieve higher academic success rates for students of color compared to institutional and national averages. Dr. Snyder and I highlighted curricular components, best practices, and assessment data that could help to develop servant leaders on any campus.
In addition to highlighting BGSU’s PLA during this conference session, PLA alumni and staff were able to gather at the annual NASPA BGSU reception to share past PLA stories and hear how current scholars in the program are finding success on and off the campus at BGSU. Past and current PLA staff present at the NASPA reception included: Deanna Vatan Woodhouse, Jeff Kegolis, Jacob Clemens, and Julie Snyder. PLA alumni attending the reception included Dan Stypa (2004), Preston Reilly (2005), and Paunita Jones (2005).
2011 NASPA Conference in Philadelphia
Philadelphia. The first things that come to my mind are the Liberty Bell, Ben Franklin, and cheesesteaks. However, there is so much more. Since having the opportunity to be immersed in Philadelphia culture for nearly a week as a NASPA participant, I feel fortunate to have witnessed the impressive expansion of the convention center, enjoyed the scrumptious delights at Reading Terminal, and of course, participated in the 2011 NASPA Conference.
This is not my first annual conference. As someone who has attended ACPA and NASPA for over 10 years, I know what to expect. However, this year was different. There was a constant white elephant looming around by the name of “Consolidation.” Near the registration area of the convention center were tables with messages urging members to vote yes or no for consolidation. The town hall meeting called to order to discuss pros, cons, and projected ramifications further evidenced this. However, it did not detract from the conference theme, sessions, annual events, or camaraderie—it presented a unique dynamic and challenged members think about the future and direction of our professional associations.
Personally, this conference was amazing! I am one of the co-chair elects for the Student Leadership Programs Knowledge Community (SLP KC), however at this conference I served as the Team Leader for Conference Programs. This entailed ensuring all things conference-related went smoothly. The journey began with the full-day pre-conference workshop sponsored by the SLP KC. Over 25 attendees had an opportunity to learn more about leadership theory practice and to engage in a leadership expert panel with guests including Dr. Susan Komives and Dr. Laura Olsteen. There were KC-sponsored programs, membership meetings to coordinate, materials to distribute, and of course, the graduate/communities fair. This year the KC also launched a mentorship program. I volunteered and had a lovely time getting to know and serve as a mentor for Julia, a first-year master’s student at Indiana University who is interested in residence life and orientation attending NASPA for the first time. This year NASPA was very busy, but a productive and meaningful use of time to contribute back to a profession I adore.
Are you still wondering about professional development and BGSU? Aside from the KC-related professional networking, development, and competencies I am gaining, I was able to attend sessions. The most intriguing session I attended was about helping students make meaning of their lives and develop purpose through a mentoring lens. This featured session spoke to appropriately challenging students to evaluate and answer life’s questions that are more difficult; find a meaning and purpose for their existence and contributions they can make to society. Not only is there a new book associated with this session, but panelists were present to share dialogues they have had with students related to the content in the book.
As far as BGSU, I had the phenomenal opportunity to assist with the graduate fair and interact with prospective masters and doctoral students interested in the Higher Education and Student Affairs program. Alongside faculty and master’s student representation, we spoke with many individuals intrigued by what BGSU has to offer. Many were impressed by the study abroad options, internships offered at other institutions, and diverse internship/assistantship opportunities. I was also pleasantly surprised by the number of alums who stopped by just to say hello, particularly to our beloved Dr. Robert DeBard, who many are sad to see retire this year.
For anyone who has yet to experience NASPA (or ACPA) and is interested in knowing more about the organizations or ways to participate, please do not hesitate to contact me.
Thank you to the Division of Student Affairs for the generous scholarship supporting my attendance at NASPA this year!