You can Google jobs in your field and cold apply, you can ask mentors in your field if they know of any openings or have any connections that could possibly help, or you can go to a job fair for the field that you’re interested in.
For my search so far, I’ve used all of those techniques. I have interviews lined up from some of those jobs that I cold-applied to, and as I mentioned in my last post, I had 13 interviews at the Southern Placement Exchange that I just attended. I am obviously no expert yet, as I haven’t been offered any positions, but I think it’d be useful to share what I’ve learned so far. Here goes [and to clarify for new readers: I'm interested in Residence Life, hence the Higher Education Student Personnel Administration degree]:
1) Do Your Research: All of these Residence positions that I interviewed for were at higher ed institutions, obviously. Schools with traditions and a mission statement and school pride like crazy [especially because they were all Southern schools]. Inevitably, one of the first questions they’d ask was “Why do you want to work at the University of _____?”.
I had a feeling they’d be asking something like this, so I made a cheat sheet for every school. I researched their values and their vision, the Residence Life staff structure and halls, and just overall got a feel for this school. In the 15 minutes before my interview, I’d always read over my cheat sheet and memorize these little facts that ended up making such a big difference. This way, when I was asked this question, I could work my knowledge into my answer, teaming it with how I can help advance their mission, or how I’d fit in well at their school. It takes 15 minutes to make a cheat sheet of the school, business, or corporation you’re interviewing with & 15 minutes to memorize it, but it makes a world of difference.
2) Know Your Stuff: During my interviews, I was so thankful for what I’ve been learning at MSPP. With the knowledge I’ve gained so far about Student Development and Higher Education in general, I felt comfortable mentioning relevant theories and facts in my interview. We never had full blown discussions about a theory, but dropping little facts into my answers made me feel like I really do know what I’m talking about, helping me to feel qualified for the positions. It’s not something that you want to hit your interviewers over the head with, but being able to prove that you know what you’re talking about it is necessary in interviews.
3) Be Yourself: For anyone to be able to make a truly informed decision regarding hiring you, they need to know who you are. If you’re a quiet introvert, be that in your interview. Certainly you need to be friendly and answer questions, but it’d be disappointing if a company hires you thinking that you’re this outgoing, enthusiastic person and then you get there and you’re really shy. Or vice versa. It also goes the other way: you also need to be able to see how you’d get along with your supervisors and colleagues on a day to day basis, being the real you. Pretending to be someone that you’re not just to get hired will lead to disappointment on your end and on theirs.
That’s it. If you do these three things plus you have some awesome business cards [like the ones above], then you can say you’ve given it everything you’ve got. And that is bound to get you somewhere.