There are many different reasons for people deciding to leave the field. Many have completed their degrees and are looking into a larger responsibility with another university. Others may feel that they have had their fill of residence life and are looking to transition their skills into other opportunities. Whatever the reason, if you have an idea that you will not be at your current institution after the summer, here are a few ways to make sure you have a place to land.
Update your resume
Make sure that you have an updated resume so that you can try to find new employment close to and around your date of leaving. Working with the career center on your campus may be a good idea for someone who has been at his or her institution the past two or three years, and could use some help writing a new resume. Also, touch base with professionals both in and outside of the field to have a good supply of references. If you have informed your current employer that you are leaving after this year, they may even be willing to be a good reference for you at your next position wherever it may be. If you are switching into a new field you may need to switch to a skill based resume to show potential employers you have the skills needed to do the job. Your cover letter will also be a key aspect of your application, so work with career services or someone who is currently in the field you hope to go into, to help you write it.
Put aside a little extra money
If you don’t have a position right after you leave your current position, it won’t be the end of the world. Try to put aside a little bit of your paycheck for two to three months before leaving. Putting this money away, even if you don’t have to use it, allows you to have a little bit of savings to buy some things for your new place if you decide not to have another live on position. Remember, outside of the residence hall, apartments and town houses expect you to have security deposits and two months’ rent in some instances. It’s a good idea to have a little nest egg of cash in case you run into any difficulty down the line.
Find a position where you can establish yourself
Making a job transition outside of residence life can be a challenge for some. Find a position that you feel you could establish yourself in for the next couple years. Taking a position until you find another one is not only costly and time consuming, but also makes future employers look at all of your transitioning as someone who may not be reliable for their organization. Take the time to “do your homework” and find a job that will be a good fit for your personality.
Try to find some people who are currently in the field you are looking to work in. Ask them if you can do an informational interview. This should be a short (30 minutes max) meeting or meal where you can ask them about the field. You should include questions about how they got into the field, trends, types of positions you should be looking for and any thing else that sparks your interest. This is not a chance to sell yourself, but a chance to understand a new field. Most often the person you speak with will be glad not only to share what they know, but share some key contacts with you.
Interviews for housing and residence life are usually daylong affairs where you speak to everyone from the Dean of Students to RAs. There are very specific questions involving confrontation, advising, etc. If your plan is to change fields it would be very beneficial to do a mock interview. Many companies interview you for 3 hours or less. This does not give you a lot of time to make an impression. The types of questions will also be very different, so it is a good idea to practice so you can plan ahead for the types of things you may be asked. Again, your career center is a good place to start.
Remember that your residence life career may be ending or changing, but keeping the contacts you have made can be very important down the line. They can help you in finding new positions that open up both inside and outside of residence life. Make sure to touch base with your old employers so they will keep you in mind if they see any positions opening up. Don’t burn any bridges, as eventually, you may want to cross them again.
Submitted by Christian Belko, Area Director, Monmouth University