Every job field is hard to break into. Companies, organizations, and institutions want to hire applicants with experience, but it’s difficult to get experience if no one will hire you.
Student Affairs seems to be no different. Thankfully, however, there seem to be many opportunities available to help Higher Education students become professionals. After much research and a few frustrated punches into my pillow, these seem to be the ways that I’ve found to get into the field [but take my advice with a grain of salt because I just started the search process myself]:
1) Job search websites are the best thing that happened since sliced bread. Sites such as Higher Ed Jobs, The Chronicle of Higher Education and Women in Higher Education have hundreds of jobs listed, broken down by type of position, region they’re located in, salary, etc. It’s easy to find jobs and it’s free.
2) Job conferences are a great opportunity, if you can swing it. Multiple times a year, Student Affairs placement exchanges are held, bringing employers and candidates together for concentrated interviews and job searching. They tend to be costly, both financially and timely [due to travel and taking off of work], but they have the potential to pay off in the end.
3) Field work and internships are free experience! A good way to get Student Affairs experience is to offer your services to a higher education institution free of charge. As I mentioned before, we have to complete a field work project as online Higher Ed: Student Personnel Administration students. This field work project is allowing me to work with a well-established professional in my field and learn all that I can from her, while simultaneously working on projects that will benefit her school as well. Institutions are more likely to take you on as an intern than as an employee because who doesn’t love free work?
Those are my tips. I probably shouldn’t have shared them because I am on the job hunt, after all, and I want as little competition as possible, but hopefully this will help some of you students out there who are nervous about trying to become a professional.