Ace the Resident Assistant Application

Public Relations Associate, Carnegie Communications

Dec   2011



You’ve decided to take the step to become an RA. So, now what? You most likely have a blank application and an appointment for an interview, but now, it’s just a matter of taking action. Here are a few pointers so you can ace the resident assistant interview and application process.

Do your research

The RA role is different at every school, so do your research, and make sure you know what you’re signing up for. Go on your residence life website or stop by the offices to learn more about the job. Better yet, talk to your own RA to get a first-hand point of view on the tasks. In my post, "Reasons to Be an RA" I discuss the reasons why I and many other RA alumni loved our experiences! Ask important questions about the time obligation, living situation, disciplinary role, activities, and overall commitment of being an RA. In addition, make sure you know all the prerequisites: many schools require a class or informal certification as part of the required qualifications.

Know what you’re getting into

Keep in mind that this position is not for everyone! Many students are lured into this role just for the perks, and oftentimes, those are the ones who don’t enjoy their job or simply aren’t very good RA’s. Take a close look at the application to figure out what kind of person your school is looking for to have as an RA. If you’re questioning any part of the job description, don’t be afraid to ask someone for more details. In the real world, you would never interview for a job you don’t like—that applies to this job as well!

Be yourself

An RA application is not the time to embellish your résumé. Be honest, and be yourself! Residence life professionals are attracted to students with those ideal qualities like organization and responsibility, but they also love people who are creative, open-minded, and outgoing. Your interview and application will ask a lot of situational questions; rather than giving what you think is the best answer, give an honest answer about your experiences (or lack thereof, and discuss how you plan on learning). You’re going to be in this position 24 hours a day, so don’t start your RA career by telling a few white lies!

Have fun

Residence life isn’t expecting you to walk into the interview with a business suit and briefcase, so don’t be afraid to have a little fun! If you love your school and love working with people, you will automatically make a great RA. Before your interview, think up some fun, unique activities you would like to do with your residents. Don’t be afraid to throw out a new, innovative idea, either; even if your interviewers don’t like the concept, they will most likely respond well to your enthusiasm.

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About Catherine Seraphin

Catherine Seraphin

Catherine Seraphin is the Digital Media Project Manager at Harvard University, formerly the Assistant Editor, Online Specialist for Carnegie Communications. Catherine graduated from Penn State University with a degree in journalism, a minor in English, and course concentrations in business. She was previously an in-depth arts reporter for Penn State’s student-run newspaper, The Daily Collegian, and interned as a features reporter at a paper based in Southern Massachusetts. Catherine previously had a full-year internship with a well-known higher education PR firm. Her favorite experiences during college include her two years as a resident assistant and her involvement in THON, the largest student-run philanthropy in the world. There, she was on the PR committee that helped THON become the third most tweeted topic worldwide. When she isn’t working, you can find Catherine shopping, reading, running, or updating her social media pages.

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