Life of an RA
For those who still own a flip phone, looking to be a part-time babysitter, holding down the dorms and aiding to college students beck and call, being a resident assistant is the job for you. A resident assistant, or an RA, is a student supervisor and guidance counselor combined into one. RAs live in the dorms amongst their residents and their job is to aid students in their buildings through linking them to campus resources, organizing events, and even by providing emotional support.
Three RAs go into detail of what the life of an RA is like and describe the up's and down's of being a resident assistant at MSU.
What pulls you in ... the benefits
Free housing. A room all to yourself. Resume booster. These are a few pros of being an RA. However, students also choose to become RA's due to benefits that are not as self-serving.
"I just like the idea of helping people," sophomore Akers RA Tyler Carnes said.
RAs can serve their residents in a variety of ways, including connecting students to useful academic resources on campus.
"If you connect them to academic counseling or tutoring and they get a better grade on their next test, that's awesome to find out that is something you helped them to navigate," senior Holden RA Santana Mcintyre said.
RAs may play a role in the substantial impacts on incoming college freshman, due to the big transition from home to college life, it’s the first time many student’s are living on their own. RAs need to be people who freshmen can rely on not just academically, but emotionally, as student's enter a new stage in their lives.
"Obviously, the RA is kind of their go-to person for a lot of different things," senior and former RA Miya Hourani said. "I really liked that aspect of being the person that was there to help them if they needed help and to give them a good living experience for trying to transition to college."
It can and will be stressful
No job is stress-free at all times. Even the most enjoyable job in the world can have moments where you can feel a little overwhelmed. RAs are responsible for a multitude of things regarding their residents. These tasks include: frequently sending out emails and reminders to residents, organizing social events and posting bulletin boards throughout their building to keep residents updated on upcoming events and resources.
While Carnes said that RAs at MSU receive their monthly schedules of all their duties well in advance, the early adjustment period from being a regular student to becoming an RA was not easy for the first time resident assistant.
"The only time I really felt frustrated was in the beginning when I was trying to perfect my routine and get in to that groove; but I feel like that's something that any student will experience," Carnes said.
Hourani said what drove her decision to discontinue being an RA after spending just one year on the job was the affect that her mounting responsibilities as a resident assistant had on her social life.
"As an RA, I don't want to say that you're secluded, but you have so many things you have to be doing," Hourani said. "I wanted the experience of living with my friends and not having 500,000 things to do every single day."
An essential job description of an RA is to enforce policies and regulations for their residents who are, after all, college students that want to have a good time. For many college students, a good time comes in the form of alcohol.
RAs at MSU have duty calls throughout the week, Sunday through Wednesday, and weekend duty calls that begin on Thursday that run until Saturday. When RAs are on duty they go on "rounds", or walks around the building to make sure there are no incidents amongst residents. Duty calls for resident assistants usually include rounds at three different times of the day: 7 p.m., 10 p.m., and 12 a.m., except for on weekends, when there is an additional 2 a.m. round added.
While Carnes noted that he has only had a couple incidents pertaining to his residents this semester up to this point, Hourani voiced a different sentiment regarding dealing with residents in the past.
"I had several calls of drunken students, so that was probably the most common call at three in the morning, at least for me. ... That was probably my least favorite part of the job," Hourani said.
Due to RAs being required to report any potential safety concerns to their supervisors, they must always be prepared to document incidents involving residents, regardless if they are on duty or not. Mcintyre said this can frustrating due to the unpredictable times at which such incidents can occur.
"We might be on our way to class, or we might be studying for an exam we have the next day; but due to this hat we wear as mandatory reporters, we have to initiate this process," Mcintyre said. "So that can be kind of stressful just because we're not just RAs, we are students and are also employees of potentially other jobs."
The lasting effects
"Developing a sense of dependability with others is great in this role, because I think through this role I've become a person that people can come to," Carnes said. "That will help in the future with any job, like being a dependable person really helps."
For Carnes and Hourani, becoming an RA for reasons that are not self-serving, but instead to genuinely help others; has benefitted both of them from a personal aspect and pursuing professional careers.
"If you asked me to do it again, right now, after I've lived off campus for two years, I would 100 percent want to be an RA again," Hourani said. "You really do have the opportunity to impact these people's lives."