Proudly wearing a Gryffindor scarf (even though I’m technically a Hufflepuff) I watched as residents drank butterbeer and worked on Harry Potter coloring pages. After several weeks of planning, and promoting the Harry Potter themed social and trivia night, and a day spent baking, the event finally was happening, and residents were enjoying it!
That moment last quarter reminded me why I love being an RA. I was able to combine things I love – baking, Harry Potter, and hanging out with people – into an event that let residents take a break from studying and meet other people in our building.
Almost halfway through my second year as an RA, I’m still working to get the hang of this whole being an RA thing. Each week contains some things that are routine, like going to my WASH staff meeting, working a desk shift, attending the Willard exec meeting as the RA representative, spending time with residents to see how they are doing, and brainstorming and implementing event ideas. But there are also the random things that make each week different, like getting a Facebook message at 3:00 a.m. that there is really loud beeping coming from a room on my floor and having to call NUPD or getting to eat a delicious five course dinner with the awesome women of Hobart at their spring formal. There are a lot of times where I have to put my residents and my duties as an RA ahead of myself and in order to do that without becoming angry, I remind myself why I enjoy being an RA.
The main reason I choose to be an RA is because I want to care for people. It brings me joy when I’m able to support my residents and provide help. I enjoy event planning and the fact that I get paid to get to know people and be friends with them. One of the things that surprised me about the position is how much support and encouragement I receive from all the people in Residential Services, especially my staff team. I’ve become great friends with people on my staff team and have learned a lot from them in addition to being encouraged by them when I’m feeling stressed about the job. A large part of being an RA is personal development and teamwork. During training, staff meetings, and my one-on-one meetings with my Residence Director, I’ve learned about myself and gained skills like conflict management that I’ve then been able to apply.
Being a good RA takes time and effort and residents deserve to have a great RA. It takes a special person to do all that is asked of a Northwestern RA while balancing being a student and having a social life. Being an RA helped me to be a better friend, a better member of my sorority, and a better leader and member of my other student groups. This is the greatest job you can have as a student, but before applying, I urge you to consider if you are up to the task. Is being an RA in you?