A huge part of college is upperclass students helping and mentoring younger students in their transition to college life. If you're interested in being a supportive part of the campus community, you should look into becoming a Resident Assistant (or Advisor). You'll have an application and interview process much like any other job, so it’s just a matter of taking action. Here are a few pointers so you can ace your RA application and interview.
1. 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. Ask important questions about the time obligation, living situation, disciplinary role, activities, and overall commitment to 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.
2. 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!
3. 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 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!
4. 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.
Being an RA can be an incredibly rewarding experience if you’re willing to put in the time and effort it takes you be one. With a little hard work and some enthusiasm, you can build bonds and facilitate relationships between students to make for a more welcoming and supportive college experience for you and your peers. If this at all sounds like the kind of thing that inspires you, fill out an application as soon as you can!
Not sure a job as an RA is right for you? Explore your options and take our quiz to find out Which Campus Job Is Right for You!