By Amari Foster

Residential Advisors have the opportunity to be deemed mentors and leaders in the residence halls of colleges, universities, and other similar institutions. In college, the job not only is a great way to build personal and professional skills, but it bridges a connection to the residents in forms of leadership, service, and involvement opportunities on campus. But how do you get the position as Residential Advisor and start your role?

I have currently been a Residential Advisor-Peer Learning Assistant for these past four months, and I would love to give more insight on things I wish I knew before applying for this position.

Before even starting the application for this position, it is important to understand your own values and goals. What transferable skills can you contribute to this large organization? How is your communication with people that have a different style of communication with you? While you will gain experience in problem-solving and team collaboration, ask yourself if you are willing to place yourself in urgent situations.

It is imperative that you meticulously research the organization and what the job entails. That way, you will be well versed in what the company is looking for in a redeemable candidate for the position. When it comes to being a RA, many people consider the position as an RA for the economic benefits that come along with the job.  Some of the benefits may include free room and board and a dining plan. This job consists of a lot of work and there will be a disconnect in the relationships you have with residents if you are only into this job for personal gain. You definitely have to have an additional passion for helping people and for being a leader.

“Before applying, you should really evaluate your motivations and talk to others in the position,” explains Davia Rose Lassiter, who worked as a resident assistant at the University of Southern Mississippi in the early 2000s. “If you are [only] motivated by the financial benefits, you will not be successful in this role. However, if you enjoy serving others and want to have a significant role in the lives of students while adding to your own personal development, then go for it.”

There are some key strategies in which you will need to highlight in your interview! Knowing how to respond to behavioral situations with clear, concise information is imperative for a demanding job like this position. For instance, an article published by LinkedIn Talent Solutions notified that RAs will have to negotiate conflicts with residents. This means that an applicant needs to be ready to respond with an answer that caters towards listening and mediating solutions.

Finally, while Residential Advisors carry a large role in the residence hall, this position is meant to give people an opportunity to boost that branding as an undergraduate. This job can consume a person’s life if they let it; however,  it connects people across all academic levels and builds trust among people that may have been nervous to reach out in the first place. It is important to find behind the balance of a Residential Advisor and a student, and this position is an amazing learning process to master in college before applying for an internship and other work studies.

Foster is a sophmore majoring in advertising at the University of Missouri.