Job Search Conversation: Sean Eddington

Sean Eddington is a Residence Education Coordinator at Purdue University. This is Sean’s 5 year in higher education, we was an RA as an undergrad. Sean received his master’s degree from Northwest Missouri State University.

He attended Purdue University where he was a History major with a Political Science minor- he has planned on going to law school but a boss had talked about Student Affairs to him. He found out more on Higher Education as a career and was able to go to OPE with placement right after undergrad. He went to Northwestern Missouri while working full time and taking classes that were half online and half in person. Sean took a year to work at a residential high school program, and then landed back at Purdue University.

I was able to have a phone conversation with Sean about the job search. Below are some things that Sean had to say about the questions I asked him.

What should I do before I jump into the job search?

First thing is to figure out what area of Student Affairs you are going into, see if you can touch base with the professionals you are working for and with to look at your  resume and give you guidance.

We have a lot of people in our field willing to help and they can touch on their connections to help you out.

Sean mentions that using Twitter puts you on the radar. Twitter can connect you with professionals that are at the institution you want to be at.

Resumes & Cover Letters are tough to get just ‘right’, what are some pieces of advice you have for grads in the search process?

Once you have it tailored, resume, for the job you want. Sean says to keep it the same.

The cover letter is where you can be more applicable to the university- show you have done your research about the institution and the department.

Sean mentioned incorporating the mission of university in your cover letter and how you and your skills can align with the mission.

Describe some of the toughest situations you’ve faced in the job search.

An institution Sean interviewed with at OPE he was able to, within minutes, figured out that this was not right for him.

Sean said that when you don’t have the connection, those gut feelings…then you know it is not going to work.

Engagement within those interviews is tough and you can feel like you are digging a hole with every answer.

I’ve received word that I am up for an interview, so what should I be doing to help myself prepare for it?

The phone interview is a little tough, no face-to-face and no body language can make it harder than usual.

Sean says the goal is to be concise, expand where you need to and where you can but don’t overdo it.

Be willing to do your research and ask questions to what’s going on in the university and the programs that you will be working with.

On campus- what’s it all about?

The institution needs to see if you are the right fit for them. Universities won’t bring you in if they don’t already think that you would be a great fit.

As a candidate, make sure that campus fits with you, your values, and where you would like to develop as a professional.  Ask about what the university will do for your own professional development.

When you were going through your job search, what were some resources that you found helpful?

  • HigherEdJobs.com
  • Any of the hiring job sites
  • The NASPA KC (Knowledge Communities)
  • The different Facebook groups
  • Twitter
  • Chronicle and other Higher Education news sources (for trends)

What advice would you give to a graduate student who is in the job search?

Fail forward. You will have great interviews and interviews you will bomb but you need to learn to learn from each. Every experience will help you move on. You might not have the best interview but recognize it and learn.

Don’t get upset on the bad interview…It happens. Keep your head up when mistakes happen and learn from your mistakes.

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I’d like to thank Sean for his time and help, not only to help me but to you my readers and fellow grad students.

Connect with Sean on Twitter!

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