Mission Unstoppable: The Job Search

naspa graduate associate program gap

Shinnomon Bartley

October 15, 2019

It’s about that time--the time many graduate students in Student Affairs centered programs are not quite ready for…job searching…and I’m one of them.

Now that we are approaching the job search season, I have been given the opportunity to reflect on the skills my experience has gifted me with, and how to showcase these skills to potential employers. How do you think I did this? You guessed it---through my resume and my potential cover letter (it’s not finished yet, oops). I procrastinated for so long on updating my resume because it is so hard for me to effectively describe what I do in a bulleted list. I know that I am more than what is on that bulleted list, but I also know that this format would be one of the ways that a potential employer would begin the process of getting to know me. It was at this point that I knew that I needed to reach out for help and get different perspectives and feedback on my resume.

I am so glad that I didn’t have to struggle through this process alone. After I mustered up the courage, I reached out for help and received a lot more than I knew I needed. My former internship supervisor, Candace Harrinarine, the Victim Services Coordinator at Florida Atlantic University, played a huge role in serving as my accountability partner through this process. Candace encouraged me to write out my goals for the academic year (updating my resume was one of them), and she created a timeline for me to get my resume and cover letter completed. Candace took the time to sit with me and review my resume, line by line and helped me to reword each bullet to ensure that my descriptions really showcased the work that I do. She helped me to see that I have been really selling myself short and that it’s okay to brag about the good work that I have done and are currently doing.

I also enlisted the help of one of my closest friends, Amy Timmerman. Amy and I met at our fall training for our graduate assistantship for the Housing and Residential Education Department, in July of 2018, and we have been friends ever since. Although we have only known each other for a year, I truly believe that I have not only found a friend, but also someone who will keep me accountable in both my professional and my personal life. It is comforting to know that I have someone who is going through the same job search process as me and that we are able to prepare for our next future steps together.

My program advisor, Dr. Jennifer Bloom, has also served as a great resource for me as well, by allowing me to send my resume to get “Bloom’d (revised).” I learned of the term “Bloom’d” in my first year as a graduate student and I thought it was so creative. The prestige of the name definitely explains how important this process is for many of my cohort members in this program. The time Dr. Bloom takes to revise our resumes and cover letters helps to reinforce the amount of care she truly has for us and our success. After all of this review and feedback, I am pleased to say that my resume is now updated and completed---now all I have left to complete is my cover letter. Any form of help is appreciated!

As I prepare the documents I will need to present to future interviewers, I can’t help but be nervous about my next steps. As we all may be aware, the NASPA Annual Conference is around the corner, and do you know what that means? So is The Placement Exchange, which is also known as TPE. I am nervous about the number of interviews I will potentially be doing, the interviews themselves, and the long days I will have to navigate as an introvert. Whew! I’m tired already! Although I am feeling these emotions, I am learning that I am not in this alone. I have been blessed with a supervisor who was an interview coach at TPE! How great is that? He has made it very clear that he is intent on preparing me for TPE, and for this, I am so grateful.

With all of this being said, there are a few things that I want you to remember:

  1. It’s okay to ask for help. I highly recommend that you do!  You’re not in this alone, so you shouldn’t struggle through the preparation process alone. Have people that you can trust pour their wisdom into you, and remember, you still have the power to take what advice you feel is right for you1 and leave what isn’t. Always empower yourself to do so.
  2. Send your resume and cover letter to various people.  Share your resume to people within the functional area that you are seeking a career in, as well as with professionals individuals who aren’t. It is important to receive feedback from all angles. Your interviewers will not all be the same, so you should treat your feedback process the same way.
  3. Finally, remember that you can do this. You are stronger than you think, and nothing can stop you, except for you. You will make mistakes along the way, and that’s okay. You can learn from them, and take the lessons that you need from them, and keep pushing towards greatness.

I wish you all the best in your future career endeavors, whether that is building your resume from scratch, updating your current resume, or mentally preparing yourself for the journey into the professional world, or all of the above. Whenever you are feeling discouraged on this journey, I hope you will find the courage and strength that I did by reading this article and letting it sink in and remind you that you can truly be all that you were made to be: https://www.naspa.org/constituent-groups/posts/be-more-than-your-resume-or-just-be-by-sara-furr.

If we did all the things we are capable of, we would literally astound ourselves.

                                                                                                            -Thomas Edison

Shinnomon Bartley is a 2nd-year graduate student in the Higher Education Leadership Program at Florida Atlantic University. She is currently focusing on finishing her graduate program in May 2020 and continuing to prepare for the job search process. Shinnomon is currently the graduate assistant who oversees the Hotel Housing Program at Florida Atlantic University, in the Department of Housing and Residential Education. She has seen her fair share of interesting incidents and situations within her role, and this has only helped to ignite her passion for working with students. She is the last child out of five children and loves watching The Golden Girls, reading a good book, and taking naps when she can. You can reach Shinnomon Bartley at sbartley2014@fau.edu or connect with her on LinkedIn at www.linkedin.com/in/shinnomon-bartley-026788170.

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