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How Do You Get a Job in Student Development?

If you're interested in working within the field of higher education, you may wonder how do you get a job in student development or student affairs and college counseling? It's a varied field with a wide array of specializations. Basically, becoming a higher education professional involves working to assist students in every aspect of their matriculation toward receiving a degree. Jobs in this field include working in departments like Academic Advising, Student Activities, Admissions, Financial Aid and Greek Life. Read on for some tips on how to get started as a higher education professional.

Ranking: 30 Best Master's Degrees in Student Affairs and College Counseling.

Gain Varied Experiences

The general rule of thumb for a tight job market is to gain as much hands-on experience as possible so that you'll stand out from the competition. This is true for working in higher ed, as well. Because there are so many different areas in which you could work, it's advisable to familiarize yourself with at least a few of them as you pursue your education. Most jobs in this field require a Master's degree. You'll be required to complete a practicum or internship in order to graduate. Try to find opportunities to get experience in various departments as an intern, volunteer, graduate assistant or student worker.

Consider Other Areas

Many people who wish to work in student development or student affairs and college counseling have a particular area of specialization in mind. It's not unusual to have a preference for providing students academic advisement or to favor the upbeat pace of student activities. However, getting hired in one's first choice may not be realistic. So career seekers should consider applying to jobs in various areas of higher education.

Try Smaller Institutions or Community Colleges

If applicants don't have much professional experience in the field or don't hold a Master's degree, it might make sense to look for jobs at small schools or community colleges. Maybe even a more rural institution might be good. These types of schools tend to have fewer employment requirements and applicants.

Try Part-Time

Even if someone needs full-time wages, it may make sense to consider applying for a part-time position in higher education. Doing so will provide some professional experience. It can also allow a foot in the door to an institution of interest. It's always possible to pick up another part-time job to supplement income.

Don't Forget to Network

Even if an applicant isn't able to get hired in higher education right away, it's advisable to stay connected to former networks. Past practicum supervisors or graduate program advisers can be a tremendous resource when it comes to hearing about job openings. It's also a smart idea to keep reading up on topics related to the profession. Doing so keeps job seekers in the right mindset and will be helpful when they do obtain job interviews with potential employers. As with many professions, this is a field that is constantly evolving. New research and practices become fashionable. Potential applicants are wise to remain in-the-know.

Try to avoid getting discouraged. The field is diverse, with lots of opportunities. Getting a job in student development or student affairs and college counseling may be difficult, but it isn't impossible.