Roompact’s “Quick Tips” series highlights ideas and suggestions you can put into your practice as either a professional staff or student staff member working in residence life and education. Click to read more from the series.
Love being an RA? Maybe you’d like to consider working within housing and residence life as a career choice. Before you take that leap, consider these three quick tips:
1. Reflect on why you want to go into the field.
It is important to know why you want to go into the field. Because residence life positions require a diverse skill set, different individuals will be drawn to different aspects of the job. Does your motivation lie more in the administrative aspects? The counseling/helping aspects? Programmatic aspects? Different institutions will prioritize different skill sets in their positions. Take time to research whether a residence life position at a particular institution is a fit with your interests and strengths.
2. The RA role is different than the professional staff role.
Some Resident Assistants become inspired to work in residence life due to their positive experience being an RA. Many housing professionals started their journey this way. However, one thing you should realize before beginning this journey is that the duties of professional staff members in residence life are different from those of an RA. So even though you may have enjoyed being an RA, that doesn’t necessarily mean working as a professional in the field will be a good match. Take time to shadow a professional for a day or do an informational interview to find out what the job is really like.
3. Residence Life comes with lifestyle compromises.
Residence Life is a pretty unique profession, especially in entry-level roles. Because professionals live where they work and have on call-responsibilities, this can come with a unique set of lifestyle compromises that not every person is willing to make. This includes working at odd hours, increased expectations around availability, and having housing rules around pets, children, and domestic partners. Before you consider a career in housing, reflect how these realities may impact you and your family. You should also understand what entry level pay is like in residence life as it is often lower than in other positions requiring similar qualifications.
Roompact employs a number of staff members who were former housing and residence life professionals. The values of the field imbue our work and we have a passion for helping others on their journey. Feel free to reach out to us if you ever want to know about our own personal journeys.