Many college students think their Resident Assistant’s main goal is to bust parties and write people up. As an RA myself, I can tell you that breaking up parties is not my main goal and is (arguably) the worst part of the job. I am currently an RA in Davenport A, a second-year dorm located right behind the Carter fields, and this is my first year being an RA!
The best part about being an RA is working with an incredible team of other RAs, Graduate Assistant(s), and a Residence Director to be a resource for our residents. You’ve probably heard that phrase a lot, “be a resource,” but what does it actually mean? In the context of ResLife, being a resource means being someone that residents can go to if they have questions, are struggling with something, or want to talk. Being an RA is an all-encompassing job. We are trained on everything from emergency management to diversity and inclusion to Title IX policy to mediation. The idea is that no RA or RD will have all the answers off the top of their head, but we will be able to help you find the right person to ask or the right place to look to find an answer. Truthfully, in the Covid-19-era, a lot of the time, the answer to a resident’s question is, “I don’t know.” We don’t know when Covid-19 restrictions will be eased, we don’t know how covid will affect classes in the coming semesters, and we don’t know how long Covid-19 is going to last.
As an RA in a second-year dorm, I hear a lot about the co-op search. I’ve completed one co-op myself, and I remember the feelings of uneasiness that accompanied November’s arrival when I still hadn’t secured a co-op. My LinkedIn feed was full of posts that read, “I am so excited to announce that I have accepted my first co-op at XYZ company…” etc. I hear that same frustration I felt echoed by residents around the dorm. Unfortunately, this go-around, students are struggling even more to find a co-op. The effects of Covid-19 on the co-op search are beginning to become evident. There are fewer co-ops available, and of those that are available, less of them are paid. As an RA, my job is not to promise a resident that they will secure the co-op they want, but help them find resources that they can use to help themselves. I can help residents with NU Works if they need it. I’ll review their resumes and cover letters. I recently held a (virtual) program where residents could ask questions about the co-op process.
This is a tough time to be a college student – and it’s okay to admit that. If you’re a student living on-campus, reach out to your RA if you have questions. I can almost guarantee you that they won’t have all the answers, but they’ll be able to help you find them.