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A Brief Message from your Sponsor

Hello friends,

It has been a while since I have been active and there are many personal and professional reasons for absence. However, I believe that the past several weeks have rekindled my dedication for providing my perspective and reflection in written format. Enough about me. Let’s get to my thoughts!

The Real Content

There are several graduate assistants who are taking the plunge and job searching at Southern Illinois University Carbondale. The department spent a portion of our spring refresher training/onboarding drawing on the knowledge of the department to assist in giving an overview of what the job search, most specifically The Placement Exchange (TPE), looks like from our collective experiences. I have written previously bout my experience at TPE, but a new post might be worth it.

Below is a list about TPE that stems from my experience. There is 100% chance that you are not me and it is possible that some of the advice I give is not applicable to you. That’s okay. I do not have all the answers and know that you can fill my knowledge/experience gaps with your own awesome talent(s).

Before You Arrive:

  • MONEY: Just a couple of the costs are registration, hotel, travel, food while there
  • Hidden Costs: “Professional” clothing is the standard at TPE as well as business cards, thank you notes, and other potential branding costs
  • Prepare in Advance: Do your research on institutions before you arrive to TPE. Depending on your schedule, you may not have time to prepare before an interview. Furthermore, it would be better to use that time to prepare for your second round interviews instead.
  • Set time to yourself early: You may want to interview for all the jobs, but there is a high probability you will starve yourself if you do not take a lunch break. Build time for you in your TPE calendar. This is also applicable to scheduling back to back interviews.


When You Are There:

  • Arrive to the city early: I arrived with only 30 minutes until the first Orientation, thinking that a hotel check in would be easy . . . it was not and it never is.
  • Traveling during TPE: You are in a city with hundreds of additional candidates as well as early arrivals for the NASPA conference immediately after TPE. That coffee shop nearest the conference center is going to take more time out of your morning than originally thought
  • SLEEP: Do not forget to do this. Yes, it is stressful and you need to prepare for the interviews, but the lethargy you feel the next day while waiting 45 minutes for a coffee is not worth it
  • Expect the unexpected: Did I expect that the button on my brand new suit was going to pop off? No. Did I expect to wait 45 minutes for a burger diner? Definitely not.


After You Leave:

  • Do not stop applying to jobs! You may have had a great interview with X school, but that does not mean X school will hire you. If you follow TPE on Twitter, employers may continue to post new positions on the portal as well.
  • Prepare for the possibility of an on campus interview, if you have not done so already. Do you have reliable transportation? A coworker/friend willing to take you to the airport? Furthermore, you are likely to get the call about an on-campus interview at a terribly inconvenient time. I received my first call as I was in the middle of Orientation.

Final Thoughts

You will be surprised: No matter how much you prepare for this experience something will still happen that throws you for a loop. I was given a compliment during an interview once and I was completely thrown off my game after that. You might find a position that looks FANTASTIC, but then you get to the interview and the aspects you were excited about do not shine through. It is the nature of job searching, especially far and wide.

What advice do you have for your peers? Add a comment with what worked well for you!