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Over the past month I had my own version of March Madness; instead of basketball mine was filled with professional development and job searching. From Wednesday the 9th to Wednesday the 16th I lived in a hotel room in Indianapolis as I participated in The Placement Exchange and then attended the 2016 NASPA Annual Conference. This was my first time going out of state for professional development and attending a national conference. But, as an emerging student affairs professional I have learned that no experience is complete until one has had the time for . . .  REFLECTION!

placeexchange_logo__largeThe Placement Exchange

TPE is much more terrifying in name and reputation than in person. Before on site candidate orientation I felt overwhelmed. But after I arrived and especially after my first two interviews I fell into a routine. Some other bloggers are writing longer posts including perspectives from a variety of other TPE attendees. Check @hannahetorrance  post here and @RockyTM7 post here  (and follow them on Twitter!)

What made you decide to go to TPE?

I am searching nationally and what better time was there to search nationally than right before a national conference?

Do you feel like TPE is worth it? Why/why not?

If measured only by my placement in a job then “worth it” would be pretty simple to measure, but it is never that simple. I may or may not obtain a job from the conversations I had, but I certainly met many student affairs professionals from around the country (hooray networking). I progressively got better at interviewing throughout the process. In one of my last interviews I utilized scholarly research two or three times. Fit is really important in student affairs and I most certainly had a red flag or two during my interviews. By interviewing with so many different types of institutions, I believe I am better able to identify what fits me.


I was superbly impressed with the NASPA conference. My registration was seamless and the registration area looked superbly official. Every facet of the convention center had the theme and logo (except the part where there was a cheerleading competition happening on the other side of the center).  At no time would I have not known that it was a NASPA conference. My first national conference really put it into perspective for me that it was at a completely different level than anything I had ever attended before.

There were easily fifteen or more choices for each session, making it difficult for me to choose. I had two or three sessions chosen and waited until the last moment to decide. I felt there was a pretty wide variety: I attended sessions focusing on diversity, residence life, and student activities. There was a lot that I returned and shared with my colleagues at Notre Dame College. I learned about fundraising for my department’s events, a think-tank’s thoughts on learning communities, how to discuss privilege with privileged groups, and about a resilience development program for first year students amongst many other topics.

One thing that stood out to me, more than anything else, was the camaraderie of the persons at the conference. I attended the Region IV East general meeting and I felt that it was more of a family. Everyone may not have known one another, but they were willing to introduce themselves and talk to me about the beginning of my student affairs journey. I met with my first time attendee mentor and had a really good chat about my journey as well as their journey too. Writing this post reminds me that I need to reach out to them to set up some time to chat outside of the NASPA conference too! At a later social, I met with and spoke with senior student affairs officers, including NASPA board member about their journeys. It was a wonderful experience and I learned so much from a wide variety of different persons. In the midst of all these awesome happenings, I knew that I wanted to become more involved. After a successful #sasearch I want to become more involved with NASPA. I joined several knowledge communities already and hope to be more engaged with them after graduation. I am excited for this next stage of my life.

A friend and colleague of mine made a very good point in the midst of the conference. She felt refreshed and reaffirmed that her choice to go into student affairs was the correct one. Attending NASPA and meeting with dozens of student affairs professionals, seeing colleagues excitedly discussing their own contexts; it was a motivational experience itself. Despite having undergone TPE and barely slept, I too felt refreshed and reaffirmed. No matter all the discouragement from struggling to balance coursework, commuting, and assistantship I knew that I was talking the right path. I may not know what direction I am going nor my destination but it just feels right.