Often times in housing and residence life we never realize what kind of impact we have on others through our interactions with them. I believe this to be true of my RA during my freshman year in college. Without his kind words during my freshman year, I know that I would never have applied to be a RA. In fact, I’m not sure that I would have even graduated from college without the simple invitation he gave me.
The invitation was simple but yet sticks with me to this day. It was right around RA recruitment time and to be honest I never really paid any attention to all the publicity and signs he hung up on the floor (much to his chagrin I suppose). Out of the blue, he stopped by my room and asked me “have you ever thought about applying to be an RA?” Now, after my roommate stopped laughing at the thought of me being an RA, I gave a perplexed look to him and responded with “uh… no.” “You should really think about applying. I think you’d do a great job” was his reply. With that, he went on his way to class and I continued doing what I was doing at the time.
I mulled over the thought of applying for the RA position for well over a week after that short conversation. It honestly had never crossed my mind before he suggested it to me. I was really trying to find a “niche” on campus at the time and in the end I thought the RA position was something I might try out for a year. I was amazed to find that the RA position was a good fit for me. To me, hanging out with my staff and students was like having a party (minus all the negative attributes of course). I found that I enjoyed my RA position so much that I wanted to pursue Higher Education as a profession. From there, I went on to later to earn a Masters degree in Higher Education and currently work as a Student Affairs Professional all because my RA “invited” me to apply to be an RA.
As a professional, I’ve became a big proponent of utilizing Resident Advisors to invite members of their floor, friends, or people they admire on campus to apply for an RA position. This inexpensive and often underutilized recruitment tool can make a big difference in the candidate pool your department builds during RA selection season. At my current institution, our selection committee creates invitation cards and provides each staff with a stack of them to distribute to residents they believe could excel in the RA position. These cards invite candidates to an interest session to learn more about the job and are a way to provide recognition to hallway leaders. The results of providing invitation are obvious while conducting review sessions. During my interest sessions, I always ask candidates for the reason they decided to attend. At least 60% of those in attendance came only because they were invited by their Resident Advisor. It wasn’t the broadcast e-mails sent by our housing department to all residential students, nor was it the expensive posters that we plaster all over campus in hopes of recruiting a higher quantity and quality of student. It was a simple postcard sized invitation that was given to them by someone they admired, their RA. After all, everyone wants to be invited to the party!
Submitted by Pete Trentacoste, Community Director, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill