Wednesday, March 9, 2011

4 Ways the SA Job Search is like Falling in Love...

We are in one of the busiest times of the year for Student Affairs professionals; recruitment season. So many of the wonderful Student Affairs professionals on twitter, commonly referred to by me as #sachat #sagrad and/or #wihsng tweeps, are right in the midst of searching for their first entry level position. Having been through this exciting time myself in 2009, I took it upon myself to tweet a few words of wisdom through the #opeadvice hash tag to all those preparing to interview at the Oshkosh Placement Exchange last week. One of the tweets that I shared was:

“Finding a SA position is like falling in me, you will know where you belong when you find it! Fit is important. #OPEadvice” ~@BDeniseCole

Within moments I received a wonderful message from Teri Bump, a wonderful Student Affairs professional from Texas. Her message stated “SA search like falling in love...this is a blog post... 7 ways SA search is like...”

As I set in the van on the 7 hour drive to Oshkosh, Wisconsin, I pondered this thought…”How many ways is the SA Search like Falling in Love…?”

After much thought, I came up with 4 and here they are: 4 ways the SA Job Search is like Falling in Love….

1. Falling In Love is SCARY!

Falling in any way shape or form is frightening and downright scary. You feel out of control. When falling in love specifically, you can sometimes feel as if something beyond you has taken control of your emotions and your life. Falling in love requires you to be vulnerable and put yourself in a situation where you have to trust another human being to have your best interests at heart and not damage your emotions.

How does this relate to the job search?
Well, the SA job search is SCARY! Not only are you competing with dozens of other people for a position, but you feel as if the rest of your life is being decided by someone else. Every institution can interview well and everyone can make their institution and department seem like the best place in the world, but how do you really know it is the right place for you.

How do you move past the fear?
ASK QUESTIONS! The best way to get over the fear associated with the vulnerability and lack of control within the job search process is to ask questions and get to know the institutions and the people you are interviewing with. Remember that you are interviewing them just like they are interviewing you. You are a prize! You come with experience, ambition, and passion that every institution would love to have. Never forget that you bring just as much to the table as the institution you are interviewing with.

2. Three Little Words

Do you remember the first time you said “I Love You” to a significant other? It was probably one of the most powerful moments in your life. How many times did you think about saying it before you actually did? How many times did you agonize over the perfect moment that you would allow the words to escape from your lips? Saying “I Love You” for the first time can be a special but scary moment. You want it to be right, you want to say it to the right person, and you never want to regret uttering the words.

How does this relate to the job search?
Think about the Two Little Words that you will eventually have to say at the end of this process. Do you know what words I am referring to?

“I Accept”.

As you are going through this process how many times you have thought about the moment that you are going to tell an institution that you accept their position? Have you agonized over whether or not you are going to say it to the right school? Have you thought about whether or not it is going to be the perfect moment? Saying “I Accept” to your first full time position is going to be one of the most powerful, special, and agonizing moments in your life. You will be super excited that you got a job offer, but then the overwhelming sense of urgency will hit you when you wonder if you are taking the best job for you. Is this a good fit? What if another school offers to me at a later time? What if this is the only place that offers to me? Remember in this moment that you can take some time to think over your decision, just because someone says “I love you” does not mean you have to say it back, and just because a school offers you a job that does not mean you have to accept that position on the spot. Take 24-72 hours to think over your decision and weigh the options. You never want to regret uttering two of the most powerful words at this stage of your life.

3. Unrequited Love

What happens when you love someone that does not love you back? R&B Singer, Brandy, has a song titled “Have you Ever” and the lyrics of the song clearly explain the pain associated with unrequited love.

Have you ever been in love
Been in love so bad
You'd do anything to make them understand
Have you ever had someone steal your heart away
You'd give anything up to make them feel the same
Have you ever searched for words to get you in their heart
But you don't know what to say
And you don't know where to start ~Brandy

This is exactly how we feel when our love is not returned from someone. We search and search for the perfect things to say or do in order to help that person to see that we are the right one for them.

How does this relate to the job search?
Not every institution/department that you love is going to love you back. You may believe that they are the perfect fit for you; however they may not believe that you are the perfect fit for them.

What do you do with that information?
You move on and focus your energies on those institutions that are interested in you. Remember that this is a process and a journey and you will be stronger because of it.

4. Falling in Love is easy…STAYING in Love is hard

We all know that there are stages in every relationship. Falling in love is in the first stage, the honeymoon or courtship stage. That is when everything is peaches and cream. You feel butterflies in your stomach when that person enters a room or says your name. You look forward to seeing that person and spending time with them, and you are genuinely interested in just about everything that comes out of their mouth. Yes, the honeymoon stage is lovely but it only lasts for a while. Eventually couples must move into the Realistic stage of their relationship, also known as the Disillusionment stage. This is where “people stop being polite and start acting real”. In this stage you will begin to see the flaws and shortcomings of your mate. It is in this stage that you have to work in order to keep your relationship going. For some people this stage can be disappointing and discouraging; however if you communicate openly and learn how to effectively manage conflicts that may arise you will see your relationship grow strong and begin to flourish.

How does this relate to the job search?
You may love an institution/department now, but it is going to take some work and effort on your part to maintain that love for the department. Every department and institution has their flaws and shortcomings. After you accept a position you should be prepared to deal with those flaws and shortcomings once they surface. Being open and honest with your communication is very important. Be sure to talk with your supervisor about your concerns when they arise and seek guidance about how to move forward. Take time to learn how to best manage any conflicts that arise within the workplace. Be professional, be transparent, and be constructive. Keep in mind that no one individual is perfect which means that no one department is perfect either.

To fall in love is easy, even to remain in it is not difficult; our human loneliness is cause enough. But it is a hard quest worth making to find a comrade through whose steady presence one becomes steadily the person one desires to be. --Anna Louise Strong

Love is 3/4 dream and 1/4 reality. Problems usually arise when you fall in love with the dream and not the reality. But, yet you find true love when you fall in love with both. --Author Unknown


  1. This is great!

  2. Bobbie- such a great, reflective post. Thanks for sharing! I think it's powerful to draw connections between different areas of our lives.

  3. Bobbie- Very insightful!