My journey to a graduate school destination started early – in the fall of 2021 I began meeting with the FLSA team to prepare for OPE. We met to talk about the OPE listing database, resume guidelines, interview tips and to be connected with our mentors.
My OPE mentor was Alyssa Reyes Bolante. Meeting with them was beyond helpful in my preparation and navigation of the graduate school search experience. We regularly met – they helped to talk me through identifying my non-negotiables versus things I was willing to explore, and prepared me for interviews by discussing with me how I could best showcase my experience in interviews. At first I was a bit hesitant to think that OPE would work for me because I had limited experience in Residence Life, but Alyssa and the rest of the staff showed me how I could best highlight the skills and experience I do have within student affairs, aligning them with the expectations of potential future employers.
In the first few months of 2022 I interviewed 23 times. After the decision was made for OPE to exist as listings only this year, the interview process changed. It was accelerated – interviews that were originally scheduled in late February were moved to January. The interviews were not of the type I was used to – most were virtual interviews, some were phone interviews. I experienced my fair share of technical issues, and definitely had to use a different skill set than what I would use for in-person interviews.
I applied to five schools for their Mental Health Counseling Master’s programs or their Higher Education Programs. I knew that I wanted to work with college students and incorporate mental health care and education into my work. I interviewed with those five schools, a few full-time positions, and a few other schools that had programs I hadn’t previously considered.
I was accepted to all five schools that I applied to. Of the interviews I had, I received an offer of employment for two full-time positions, and assistantship offers from all 7 schools that I interviewed with. Of those assistantship offers, I received a full-ride assistantship offer from three of the schools that I applied to, with the other two offering significant financial assistance.
I am excited to share that I have accepted a position in the Mental Health Counseling Master’s program at Minnesota State University, Mankato in their Counseling and Student Personnel department. I have also accepted a position as a Student Services Coordinator in the MNSU Mankato Residential Life department. Student Services Coordinators provide direct supervision to the front desk team in a living area of 450-750 students. This position covers full tuition, housing, meal plan, and professional development funding, among other benefits. When I went to visit for my in-person finalist interview at MNSU Mankato, I fell in love with the campus and community. I knew that Mankato was a place where I would be supported in my academic, personal, and professional development – it felt like home.