So You Want to be a resident assistant (RA)?

Some of the residents of the learning community and me with our snazzy shirts.

Some of the residents of the learning community and me with our snazzy shirts.

As the fall recruitment process begins, I get asked more frequently exactly what my RA position entails, what are some of the benefits, and if recommend applying.

Some background info on my particular position:

I am a resident assistant for a learning community which means that all my residents have similar if not the same major. This semester is a little different since I have a variety of residents with majors from pre-med, sound recording technology and of course mass communication.  My experience is probably different than a regular RA but nonetheless has the same requirements and benefits.

As a resident assistant you have many tasks to fulfill. You have to act as the reinforcer of policies and make sure the residents are following procedures. There are many administrative skills when you work the desk and do a lot of event planning. Along with formal tasks, you also act as a mentor when they have questions on anything from classes to career guidance or even advice with their personal lives.

Don’t worry! It isn’t all work, you also have free time to spend on the weekends with friends and still be involved in other activities. The benefits are also pretty appealing: free room, meal plan and a stipend every month. You also gain many friendships, leadership skills, builds your resume and make connections around campus that are useful for recommendations in the future.

My advice for the interview process is simple: show your personality and strengths.

It may not be the cliche “Be Yourself” but that definitely also applies. Recruiters want to see what kind of RA you would be and what kind of residence hall you would be the best fit for. The process changes a little every year but this year I can tell you that we are hiring for the department of housing instead of a particular hall so make sure you can show your variety of skills and adaptability.

Some other tips I have learned from seeing interviews go wrong:

1) Have a good balance of listening and contributing with ideas.

  • In the group interview, make sure you are cooperating with your team, no one likes a know it all and you also don’t want to be the shy candidate that has nothing to contribute to the team.

2) Be open minded.

  • Being an RA enables you to meet and interact with a variety of people so make sure you are able to see other’s points of views even if they don’t match your own.

3) Be creative.

  • This can be shown when you are making your name tag or when giving ideas. Show a different way of doing things that may be outside of the box.

4) Evaluate why you want this position.

  • If the only answer you can come up with is “free room and board” that is not enough. Trust me. This position is 24/7 and you must show an actual desire to help others that will get you through the tougher days.

5) Be excited about applying.

  • If you are genuinely interested and wanting this position, show it! Your enthusiasm will show through your answers and will make the interview process less stressful. Just don’t be overly excited, that might make you seem like you are trying too hard and not really being yourself.

If you enjoy helping others, have a desire to see people succeed and want to gain invaluable skills for any future career, I would definitely encourage you to apply. I am thankful I was able to be a resident assistant, it has been one of my best experiences in college!

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