My first year at UNBC was by far the most fun and the best year of my university journey. I found many amazing friends and I had so much fun with them and we created so many memories together in our dorms. Countless sleepless nights of studying together and laughing and suffering through school together. Honestly, looking back at it, all the fun, all the memories, and going through the hard times wouldn’t have been possible without my friends. I was lucky to meet them, and I’d argue that living in the residence was one of the best decisions that I’ve made because it allowed me to socialize easier and be in the middle of everything that was happing in school. This is my 5th year at UNBC, and this is my 3rd year at UNBC residence, and my 2nd year as a RA (Residence Assistant). I might be a little biased about how great living in residence is but I’m going to give you all the reasons and I’m going to pitch you in on why you should be an RA and how amazing this experience is!
When you live in residence everything is close to you. Library, Cafeteria, and all the resources that are offered all over the campus including copy services, research desk help, writing help, Academic Success Centre services, and much more. A 24 hours campus where you can go and study. But the best thing is being surrounded by your friends. When your friends are just walking distance from you, you guys can decide in minutes to plan things, cook together, study, and just hang out. That means your social life would be at its prime. So let’s compare that with living off campus. Well maybe you are closer to the city and grocery stores and that’s a bonus when you don’t eat at the cafeteria. I know what you are thinking. Yes, the meal plan can get a bit of a reputation, but most of the time there is good food and the option to make recipe suggestions. You can have a plate of vegetables and a plate of fruits beside your main dish; that’s healthy if you ask me AND you are saving so much time going to groceries, buying them, and cooking them. If you ask me, it’s like you have your very own personal chef at your service for most of the day; that’s pretty fancy lol. while you are live in residence, you’ll have three other roommates, which in my case it wasn’t bad at all, and me and my roommates never had any sort of conflicts with each other. But if you do experience any challenges with your roommates, the Residence Life Team is able to help you navigate them. Some also argue that UNBC housing is expensive, and I’d say well it’s definitely not the cheapest, but now with the rising cost of renting in Prince George, it’s not that bad. I think I did the renting calculations for living in residence with a friend and it turned out to be around $750. So you might say that yeah that is expensive for a room in a 4-bedroom apartment, sharing your bath and washroom with three other people and you are not wrong but may I also say that your wifi, utilities, and maintenance are also included. What I would say though is that you are also paying for many activities that residence life offers in your very own building! If you don’t know already, we have 8 floors and each floor has 2 RAs who each are responsible to have a monthly event. So we are talking about 16 events a month! That’s a lot of fun if you ask me.
Now let’s dive into why you should be an RA. Look, being an RA is one of the best university experiences you can ask for. Plus, it looks great on your resume. The training builds you up to be a campus leader and you are expected to be one of the faces of the university, so yes it is a big deal if you ask me. This experience is just like being involved in NUGSS or any other department at UNBC. When you become part of the Residence Life team, you are in the loop of what is happening around your campus. You will be more aware of all the resources that are around you. But the best part about being an RA is that you will become part of a team of 12+ that has your back with anything. These people become your friends, so you don’t even have to do anything for your social life and you will have lots of fun. Moreover, no more 4 bedroom apartments. You will now have a 2 bedroom and you share it with your RA partner which is much more convenient. You will also get paid! Guess what, RAs is compensated roughly $6500 which can cover the fee for Housing! And of course, adding to all this you will grow professionally.
What does an RA do?
To begin with, regular and specialty Residence Assistants are appointed for a total of 395 hours per Academic Year (September & January Semesters) and we are not required to work during the Christmas break (although you have the option to be an RA during the break as well). One of the primary responsibilities of a Residence Assistant is being On-Call. RAs are responsible for assisting professional staff members in maintaining and enforcing the safety & security of our buildings, as well as for our residents. A minimum of two Residence Assistants will be On-Call every night. The On-Call Schedule will be provided well in advance, and we are expected to plan our other personal, academic, and employment commitments around it. As Residence Assistants we are required to submit our time-off requests on the 1st of each month for the following month to our supervisor. This will allow us to manage our time according to our academic responsibilities and plan for when we would like to complete our other Residence Assistant duties. During the On-Call shift, we are responsible for taking & responding to all incoming calls to the On-Call phone; Assisting residents who may be locked out of their rooms. Completing Social Rounds and notifying the Coordinator On-Call and/or Campus Security of any critical situations that may arise. The other usual RA duties are Planning programming or floor meetings. Trying our best to connect with other Residence Life Student Leaders and residents to be aware of our residents’ needs and catching up on any administrative tasks related to our Residence Assistant role.
The application process for RA and interview tips:
Let me explain the application process. In the middle, or end of the January semester, applications for the resident assistant position open (It already has been opened on January 16th). They usually send an email from housing that calls all the residents to become RAs. Also, no you don’t have to be a resident at the UNBC dorm to be able to apply for the RA job. I had friends that were off campus and they applied for RA and they go it. Starting from this day, you can submit your application by attaching your resume and a cover letter to the housing email. Apparently, the application this year will happen all online this year through Microsoft Forms! Make sure your update your resume and tailor it so that it indicates the skills and work experiences associated with the work of a Resident Assistant. In your cover letter, elaborating on abilities such as successful teamwork, leadership, and the ability to communicate and adding examples of how you have implemented these qualities in past work, could be a great start and could show why you could be a perfect fit for this position. This first step of resume screening is usually not that hard and most people make the first round. Then, after reviewing all applications, it’s time to show yourself in a group interview, known as carousel. This step is different each year, but it usually involves a group activity during which they will evaluate your people skills and how you interact within a team. I want you to remember this tip. They want to see that you are professional, reliable, and a team member. Being a team member is very critical for the residence life team and imagine that if you were forming a team of 12, you want to make sure that everyone can have a good time together. So you have to show in your interview that you are easy to communicate with and a reliable friend that everyone can count on! So what could be the activity? As I said it is different each year but I’m going to guess it according to my judgment and experience. First, no doubt you guys are going to play a game as an icebreaker so that you all relax and just be yourself. This game is intended to bring everyone closer and allow you to get to know other students with whom you could potentially be a team in the future! So make sure you interact and have fun!! They like to see that you are having fun because the coordinators are planning in their heads to match people who could be potential team members in the future and who they could visualize bringing that positive energy to the wider residence community! The main activity could probably be about tackling a problem together or developing an event for students with all the details. For tackling the problem scenario make sure you include everyone’s opinion and be respectful and also engage in the activity. For the event, planning scenario make sure you pay attention to all the details! Such as, where, when, the purpose of the event, and a detailed budget. Be creative and detail oriented! however, do not think about it too much during the tasks. Just be yourself and enjoy the process. Then you have to wait for a couple of weeks for messages whether you have passed to the next stage or not. Hopefully, you made it!
Congratulations! Another final step is the interview with one or both coordinators. Make sure you prepare for it! and you are lucky that you are reading my article because I’m going to give you some good tips! Before I give you the tips, know that the interview is going to be very friendly, and the housing team peeps are very nice and understanding so relax. First tip focus on being professional! You are the future face of the university, and you have to show that in respectful body language and dressing and presenting professionally. My second general tip to you is not to be dry. RA job could sometimes be overwhelming, The RA job can sometimes be overwhelming, and having a team of dynamic and diverse personalities brings strength and positivity to the Residence Life Team!. So be that person! The next tip I got for you is to show you are accountable! Imagine you are leading the team; the most important thing for you is knowing you have members you can count on! Well, be that person and show them that the whole RA team can always count on you such as covering their shifts or attending the other RA events for support and more. The last tip to think about if you are considering if the RA role is the right fit for you is to remember that it is important to be empathetic in this role. You will support other residents through their university experience, which can entail navigating conflicts and responding to crisis, so you have to care about other people’s wellbeing and be understanding of other’s struggles. Finally regarding the potential interview questions, what I remember from my past experiences, were: Why do you like to be an RA; or situational questions such as tell me about a time that you solved a conflict between two or a group of people or tell me about a time that you solved an issue and what you did.
Hope this helped folks! Please don’t feel bad if you didn’t make it on your first attempt. It’s a competitive job and I didn’t make it on my first try. Just do your best and good luck!