7 questions to ask before applying to be an RA

No student housing would succeed without the work residents assistants (or RAs) do to support residents and the community—everything from event planning to just saying a simple good morning.

Being an RA is fun and rewarding, but it also can be time-consuming and challenging. Here’s seven questions you should ask yourself before applying to be an RA.

1. What will I get out of being an RA?

Let’s start with the work experience and skills you’ll gain, including conflict resolution, event planning, interpersonal, critical thinking, team building and leadership skills—just to name a few.

Many famous people started their careers as RAs: Hilary Clinton, Adam Sandler, and Donald Glover are just a few of the many people who were RAs and who continue to shape our world.

Being an RA gives you skills that are transferable to almost any job. You also get paid as an RA, so it’s a great opportunity to make some money while working where you live.

2. How many hours do I work as an RA?

Being an RA means committing your time to weekly team meetings, community support shifts, hanging out with your residents and check-ins. This can all take a few hours a week to do.

Only you know you best. You know what your capacity is and how much time you will be able to commit to the role. Are you planning to be an executive in a club? A varsity team? Will you be working in a lab? What about becoming an orientation mentor? Remember, you came to university to be a student, so be sure you are capable of taking on more responsibilities before deciding to be an RA.

3. Where will I live as an RA?

RAs live and work in any of our residence buildings! Some of the residence buildings even have specific RA rooms: larger rooms, some with double beds, private bathrooms and, at times, even your very own...(drum roll) sink! RA specific rooms vary from building to building, but they are always the most sought after rooms.

You also get to choose which residence building you want to live and work in as an RA. When you apply to be an RA, you will be able to specify which communities you would like to work in. What’s more is if you make it to an individual interview, you will be able to reselect the communities you want to work and live in, just in case your preference changed from when you first applied.

4. What are the different leadership positions I can apply for?

RA positions are not the only type of leadership position you can apply for in residence. In fact, there are a variety of different leadership positions that you can apply for, even some that you don’t require you to live in residence. Be sure to check our jobs in residence page where we post all our leadership opportunities.

5. How do I decide which role I should apply for?

There are opportunities for every type of person. For instance, if you really like dodgeball and all I want to do is live in Lister, play dodgeball and lead a team to win the JP Cup, you can apply to be our Dodgeball Liaison (JP cup not included)! Do you want to advocate for different genders and sexual minorities but also enjoy running fun events? Yes? We have a role for you too! The SGM Programmer! Check out all of our leadership roles on our jobs in residence page.

6. Do I need prior job experience to be an RA?

Prior work experience is always an asset when applying for jobs. However, it is not a requirement to be an RA. Instead of past work experience, talk about the other life experiences you have (extracurriculars, volunteering, studying abroad, dodgeball, etc.) in your application and in your interview. These experiences set you apart from others and give you skills that could help you in an RA role.

7. How do I stand out among other candidates?

Be yourself! Every year, the residence services gets hundreds of applications to be student leaders in residence. We strive to create diverse leadership teams. The most successful candidates in our leadership roles are the ones that are themselves throughout the application process.