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CSP students meet with Student Life staff

Student Life Reimagines Graduate Assistantship Matching to Employers

by Blake Weiss, special projects coordinator for the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Student Life

Blake Weiss, special projects coordinator for the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Student Life

Blake Weiss, special projects coordinator for the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Student Life

Each year, the Division of Student Life hosts the College Student Personnel (CSP) Recruitment Weekend in collaboration with the educational leadership and policy studies program in the College of Education, Health, and Human Sciences, as well as the College Student Personnel Association (CSPA). The CSP Recruitment Weekend is a two-day event hosting newly admitted master’s CSP students on campus for the purposes of meeting faculty and current students, and interviewing for graduate assistantships across the university. Student Life is primarily responsible for the graduate assistantship application, interview, and offer process.

Over the last few years of coordinating the CSP Recruitment Weekend, Student Life has worked to intentionally maximize the number of interviews each candidate receives to ensure they have a strong opportunity when they travel to Knoxville from across the country.

This year, the 35 candidates averaged five to six interviews during an incredibly competitive year of 17 possible graduate assistantships. Learning from last year’s virtual recruitment weekend, this year’s event also included a robust remote experience, hosting virtual interviews, streamed panels, and video tours, maximizing recruitment efforts further for those candidates who could not join us in Knoxville.

“I felt really positive after having so much time to talk with the current GA’s, the current staff, and future CSP students. It was an extremely welcoming experience, and I was genuinely sad for the weekend to end.”

—CSP Weekend participant

The recruitment weekend begins from the moment of admission for prospective graduate students. Newly admitted students receive a personalized email from Student Life congratulating them on their admission, inviting them to apply for assistantships, access to a group social media page, and a welcome video from the CSPA recruitment committee. After candidates submit resumes and answers to a few short essay questions in lieu of a cover letter, materials are shared with hiring offices for review. Prior to the recruitment weekend, each candidate receives a unique assistantship interview schedule.

Once the recruitment weekend concludes, our newly designed hiring and offer process begins. Similar to the Panhellenic Recruitment bid process, our post-interview hiring process involves each candidate and employer submitting a ranking of their top assistantships or candidates. Neither the candidate nor the employer receives the rankings. Rather, the chair of the CSP Recruitment Weekend matches candidates with available assistantships based on the submitted rankings, prioritizing mutual interest. If a match occurs, the employer receives the information to make an offer to the candidate. This year, 88 percent of assistantships matched a candidate. Of those matches, 95 percent of candidates matched with one of their top three assistantship choice. Ninety-three percent of employers matched with one of their top three candidates.

In a very competitive year for admitted prospective graduate students, the CSP Recruitment Weekend planning efforts sought to prioritize hospitality during the trip, equity in the interview and hiring process, and clear and consistent communications following the program.

86% of matches ranked each other in their top 2 choices

66% of matches ranked each other as their 1st choice