The #SASearch.

Hello and welcome to the adventures of Joel Kaskinen!


A few weeks ago I attended the Oshkosh Placement Exchange, in Oshkosh, Wisconsin.  For those of you who don’t know what that means…this is a conference for Higher Education professionals to connect with others and to interview potential candidates for open positions at their institution (click link above for more information).  I participated as a candidate and I interviewed with nine amazing schools for both graduate assistant positions as well as full time entry level positions.

I had the opportunity to meet many like minded students who are just as passionate and in love with the world of Student Affairs as I am.  This was my favorite part.  I didn’t have to hide, I wasn’t told to shut up, I didn’t have the blank stares or questioning faces from those who don’t understand what it is that I do-or rather what it is that I love.  It was so refreshing.  I found myself falling in love with Student Affairs all over again.

This brings me to the reason for starting this blog.

I am pursuing a future in Student Affairs.  I love college.  I love influencing students and watching them grow and develop.  I love leadership and involvement.  And I love the underdog.  This is why my long-term goal is to work with underrepresented student populations, and empower them to grow and develop as students, leaders, and learners as well as to succeed academically and socially and achieve their goals with as few obstacles as possible.

The first step toward my future is to start searching for jobs and graduate programs.  So that is just what I am doing.  And this led me to The OPE.


February 26-28, 2016.  A weekend I will never forget.  I attended The Oshkosh Placement Exchange and I interviewed with nine schools.

That list includes:

  • University of South Dakota- Graduate Assistant Fraternity position
  • Truman State University- Residence Hall Director
  • North Dakota State University- Hall Director
  • University of Central Missouri- Graduate Assistant position
  • Northern Arizona University- Graduate Assistant position
  • University of Wisconsin-Whitewater- Assistant Complex Director
  • Michigan Technological University- Residence Life Coordinator
  • University of New Mexico- Graduate Assistant Hall Coordinator
  • Montana State University- Graduate Assistant Resident Director

Each of my interviews with these institutions went well and I met some amazing staff from each institution.

This brings me to the next point that I’d like to make about this weekend.  There are some amazing people in the world of Student Affairs, and I met just a fraction of them at The OPE.


Not only did I have the privilege of attending this conference with eight of the most amazing people from Northern Michigan University, but the students that I met from other institutions added to my experience as well.

I need to give a shoutout to a few incredible individuals…

  • Tevin Byers: my roommate at The OPE, you were so encouraging throughout my interview process and you were so much fun to be around.  It was truly awesome getting to know you and seeing connecting immediately with someone who shares my passion for Student Affairs.  Allow this passion for students to lead you as a person and as a professional.  I hope that we are able to reconnect soon.  Hopefully, in a new city, with a new job, and a few beers in our hands.
  • Samantha Hull: My spirit animal.  I am so happy that I was able to meet you this Fall at SVSU, and then to reconnect at OPE.  Seriously though, I’ve never met someone who has as much pride in their university as you do.  Your passion for student life and activities excites me and fuels me with energy knowing that students will get to work with and learn from you.  Keep up the hard work, it will pay off!
  • Trevor Barnes: Thank you for always finding me in waiting rooms and for helping me lighten the mood.  You are confident, driven, and skillful in conversation and language.  Use your power of voice to empower the young students that you work with and provide voice to those students who can’t seem to find theirs.
  • Freddie Bourne: Honestly one of the most genuine and down to earth young men I have ever met.  You were easy to talk to, get to know, and connect with on a meaningful level.  I loved your willingness to open up and speak real, raw, vulnerable truth.  Whether it was deeply personal or it was just that you were nervous for an interview, you were raw and real in every moment.  This takes strength, Freddie.  It’s inspiring to see someone so naturally strong in social settings. Good luck with your search!
  • Alexis Kelsch: Thank you for being my guiding light this weekend!  You have OPE experience and you currently work at Oshkosh.  Having this familiarity really helped me to get to know, listen to, and trust you-and the OPE/hiring process in general.  You had great words of advice to give and you had this air of confidence about you, that I have never seen.  I hope that we end up together again-in Montana, or elsewhere.

These amazing individuals and many others are the young professionals that I want to continue to get to know and grow with.  I hope that we stay in contact, and that the future is good to us.  I hope we all meet up again someday at a conference or an airport or wherever it may be.  And I hope that the world of Student Affairs is everything that we are hoping for.  I can’t wait to see where this road will lead and what the next chapter for each of us will be.


Since returning from OPE, a lot has happened.

  • I have had a second phase interview with the University of South Dakota via Skype
  • I received an email from the University of New Mexico stating that I have been placed on a “wait-list”
  • I received an email from Northern Arizona University stating that I am no longer being considered for a position in housing but am being considered for other Graduate Assistant positions available on their campus
  • I have been offered an interview with Northern Arizona University’s Health Promotion Office for a Sexual Assault and Relationship Violence Prevention Graduate Assistant position
  • I have been offered the Live-in Fraternity Graduate Assistant position at the University of South Dakota

As you can see, I have been on an emotional roller coaster ride with all of this news.  I have been excited and sad and stressed out all at the same time.  The job search is tough.  But it’s exhilarating.

I will fill you in as I make decisions or if I hear from any other schools.

Wish me Luck!