Being recommended and applying for, and being hired for a resident assistant position (RA) in college is an honor all. Not only is being an RA a fun and creative outlet, but it is also quite the resume builder. You will gain life lessons and skills through just a year, let alone three years on your college campus of being in this leadership role. Even after your work is done or you complete your undergrad, you will find yourself implementing traits and habits from this job into your life.
After you further develop your leadership skills which were a big part of you being recommended to become an RA, you will confidently notice yourself as a natural born leader. As an RA, you have an entire floor of residents, whether or not they are first year students, to watch out for, lead community building activities for, support, personally interact with, and so on. You really have to be willing to put yourself out there in order to ensure their success on campus. You are their lifeline when it comes to the residence hall.
Even if you only serve one year in residence life, you find that you are confident enough afterwords to want to be that guiding light in your friendships and even your future jobs. Having to deal with different ways of satisfying residents' needs will prepare you to find different ways to take that initiative and reach out. You'll find that you can pick up on detailed logistics much easier when it comes to the workplace so that you can potentially help co-workers understand them, too. Again, you become that lifeline all over again, which is a gratifying feeling.
As being a leader in residence life includes throwing yourself in several different directions to lead residents and yourself into developing more confidence, you will force yourself into managing your time successfully even when it is spent in so many ways. Academics, athletics, music, clubs, and of course, residence life are several examples of things that a typical RA has to learn how to balance successfully. Luckily, RAs have training and hall directors that assist in making the job a perfect fit. However, for the most part, RAs have to figure it out themselves in advance.
You may have to make checklist after checklist, but hey, any type of organization is helpful to keep you accountable, especially if you have learned the importance to do it ahead of schedule. In most cases, after residence life, your schedule will not be so thinned out between so many activities. More than likely, it may be easier to find the best ways to divide your time effectively now that you've been thrown into the fire of college life, let alone residence life.
Mediations are what most RAs have to go through at least once. There are sometimes conflicts between roommates. Sometimes there will be residents that you like more than others that happen to be in a conflict of sharing a room and so forth. However, a successful RA will learn how to be a successful diplomat. You will have to listen to both sides of a story before making an unbiased decision. If you do this successfully with no judgments whatsoever, then you will be able to be a major stress reliever when it comes to most minor family, friend, or co-worker disputes. This, in turn, will help you become that much more of a kind-hearted person.
Last but not least, if you were not a creative person before, you sure will add that facet into your life being an RA, and beyond. Bulletin boards, floor themes, and event advertisements are things that every RA will become exposed to. Rather than the cookie cutter poster and helvetica font, you will have to learn how to appeal to every part of your audience and in the most effective of ways. How will your theme, boards, and advertisements catch your residents' eyes right away? How will your job resume catch your employers' eyes instantly? How can you add some of your personality and charisma to a floor or board meeting? How will you adapt your Friday night downtown with your friends to make everyone feel welcome and included? Having to figure out these details is what will keep you ahead and with the times as you continuously network and meet new people.
The process of becoming an RA along with the job itself is one of the most humbling, fun, and multidimensional jobs you can have, not only in college, but in life. It teaches you so many life skills that will prepare you for what lies ahead in, really, anything in life.
We all want to become five-tool individuals of life. We want to know how to do it all. Some may say that it is an impossible task. However, nothing is impossible as you will find that out first-hand in the self-worth developed through your college's residence life department.
Everything you have to go through as an RA will teach you so much and put life in a whole different perspective; a perspective in which everything connects in one way or another. So, don't leave your tenure in residence life behind. Continue to lead, manage, be diplomatic, and create. Continue to be an RA in the real world.