March 9, 2015
May the odds be ever in your favor as the resident assistant hiring process begins.
With free room and board as compensation, being an RA is one of the more popular jobs on campus.
Molly Kinne, the associate director for Residence Life, said that around 70 people showed up during the rounds of information sessions that were held in the last week of January and throughout February.
Anybody who will be enrolled as a UCCS student for the 2015-2016 school year was allowed to apply. 65 applications were received.
“We’ve had students from other campuses apply, when they know they’re transferring in,” Kinne said.
But it is rare for freshmen to apply since they usually do not know about the position and would not know enough about campus and resources.
According to senior biology major Christian Fergins, the hiring process can be very rigorous for students. Fergins was an RA for two years.
The process starts with an application that includes a resume, two references and a few essay questions.
From there applicants go into a group process that is, as Kinne noted, an assimilation of team building exercises that evaluate an applicant’s leadership, communication and listening skills.
Next, individual interviews are held with a panel consisting of professional staff, a senior RA and a campus administrator. A select few then go on to have final interviews with Kinne and Ralph Giese, director of Residence Life.
Applicants typically find out if they got the job in early April. If somebody does not make it on that top list, they are put on an alternate list, which is what happened to Fergins.
“If they get placed on the alternate list like I did, not to despair because many alternate spots become actual positions,” he said. “Just because somebody gets that acceptance letter does not mean they are going to follow through actually accepting that position.”
The fact that there are only a few positions available each year is what makes the process competitive.
Giese gave some insight into what makes an applicant stand out.
“They have to have a passion for wanting to help,” he said. “They have to have really great communication skills and certainly display leadership skills. Those things are really important.”
“Room and board shouldn’t be the sole reason that someone wants to be an RA because there is so much other stuff that you will have to deal with. It doesn’t end up being a good experience if that is their only reason,” she said.
Kinne also explained that being an RA is great for resumes.
“I’ve heard from a lot of folks that are even not necessarily affiliated with the university, but they see that someone was an RA on their resume and it’s like they are automatically hired.”
RAs develop skills that often set them apart when applying for jobs.
“It really gives that person, who becomes an RA, some really incredible and transferable skills into all different fields,” Giese said.
RAs learn how to plan events, manage crises and also “have to be pretty intimately involved in the knowledge of campus resources from everything from excel centers to the counseling center.”
Fergins reiterated that being an RA is not for everyone.
“This is not an easy job … Some people don’t make it.”
Training sessions give first year RAs a taste of what their job will look like.
“Sometimes training is too much for people and sometimes people will leave mid-year because it’s too much for them,” Fergins said.
As challenging as it is, Giese, who was also an RA while in college, encourages students to see the benefits of the jobs.
“It was a life changing experience, and although it doesn’t impact everyone that way, it can really change the way you look at what you want to do with your life.”