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Being an RA

As my second year at Juniata draws to a close, I’ve taken a bit of time to reflect upon this year.  One of the most major changes in my workload and responsibilities since last year is my position as a Resident Assistant, or RA.  As an RA, I am in charge of one floor of my building.  I help students with problems they face during the year, plan programs for my residents, and make sure the building stays in tip top shape.  It’s an interesting and demanding job that, despite its many ups and downs, is extremely rewarding as well.

As an RA, I spend a lot of time interacting with students, both through email and through face-to-face communication.  I am quite introverted and was a bit worried at first about the added interactions in my daily life.  Honestly, it’s something I don’t even think about most days anymore; it has become so normal to have to interact with more people that it hardly affects me.  By the same token, the number of unread emails in my inbox has increased dramatically with this job.  That aspect of the job has been more difficult to manage, and it took some getting used to at first.  With more emails, it’s harder to sort through them and decide what’s most important and to make sure no emails get lost.  What I’ve found to be most helpful with this aspect of Res Life is to maintain personal boundaries.  If I’m going on a walk and don’t want to be disturbed, I’ll turn off my phone or simply choose not to check emails during my “me” time.

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A big part of the job as an RA is being on duty on weekends.  On duty, you continually check the conditions of your building, deal with any issues with residents, and enforce quiet hours.  At first, I found it hard to adjust to staying up late on Friday night after a long week or getting back to a normal sleep schedule on Sunday night after staying up late on both Friday and Saturday nights on duty.  That particular aspect of residence life has gotten much easier with time.  Another aspect of being on duty is confidence, or lack thereof.  I found it difficult to be confident on duty the first few times, but every new experience builds confidence.

The most pleasant and awesome aspect of RA life is the community developed.  Even after all these months, I am still amazed by all of the new friends I have made.  Almost daily, I see other RAs or RDs around campus and we yell to each other from across the quad or stop for a quick conversation.  I have loved becoming friends with a lot of the RDs.  As they are older and have been in Res Life for a while, they have a lot of tips on being an RA.  Many of them are also just really nice to get to know and excellent mentors to have when things get tough.  Res Life can be a stressful job, so having an RD or veteran RA to talk to can be extremely helpful.

Becoming a Resident Assistant is a demanding yet rewarding job as a college student.  While it comes with lots of ups and downs, I’ve found it to be a generally positive experience.