By Khoi Tran
For many graduate programs in student affairs, higher education, college student development, counselor education, etc., interview weekends are a great opportunity for prospective students to meet with others in the field and to learn about the campus community of each program. It’s a big deal for sure to be invited, and you’ll need to make the most of your opportunity once you’re there not only to best set yourself up for success but to also set the foundation for your professional trajectory! With that in mind, here are a few words of wisdom from someone that plays a big role in planning an interview weekend that could help you move up to the next level!
Pace yourself; these weekends are a marathon.
First of all, there’s a lot of content thrown at you during an interview weekend. Imagine your undergraduate orientation experience plus your first advising session and then add a few graduate assistantship interviews — you’ve got a lot of stacked against you but you will make it through! It’s important to be honest with yourself and know when you need to take a step back. Don’t be misled into thinking that you should short-change your mental health or to just keep pushing through exhaustion when you need your time. You wanna be at your best for every session, and if that means leaving a social event early or taking some personal time to meditate and reflect, you won’t be punished whatsoever!
Speak now, or forever hold your peace.
It goes without saying that many individuals feel like extroverts can only thrive at interview weekends since it’s a highly social environment. And in truth, it is highly social but you don’t need to be the most outgoing, talkative people to speak with good intentions. It goes without saying that on the interview weekends, you have access to a plethora of people to ask questions, get answers, and learn more from. You’ll also come to the conclusion quickly that after a weekend ends, most communication boils down to one or a few individuals through email, and that communication can often be a bit short or have big gaps in when you’ll hear back. Take the extra step to speak with as many as you’re comfortable with and talk, talk, talk. This weekend is all for you, so make it yours!
Discern what’s “nice” versus what’s “needed”.
Interview weekends come with a huge amount of opportunities for you to learn about the benefits of the program, institution, location, and the current students. Remember those college tours you may have gone on where you learned about the state-of-the-art wellness center or the fantastic dining options all surrounding the community? Interview weekends will take the time to highlight those great details once more, but it’s important to not get lost in the sauce! There are gonna be some nice extra amenities for sure, but you need to look past what’s “nice” and look to find answers for what you NEED to thrive! Whether that be a nearby airport for family travel or specific community groups for your identities, you should be able to read between the lines and find what you need!
Best of luck to you all, and I am excited for the next generation of professionals in the field!
Second year Masters Student at NC State