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What have I gained from being a Residence Life Assistant

By AngelosRLA 11 Jan 2021

Having been a Residence Life Assistant for three years has been a very rewarding and enriching experience. Three years ago, I saw a video advertising for a Residence Life Assistant position. This video made me think of my first year at university, when I lived in the halls of residence. Ι felt nostalgic as it was one of the best years of my life and I thought it would be amazing if I was given the opportunity to improve the new students’ university experience. And so I ended up applying for the role. It turns out it was one of the best decisions I have ever made.

First of all, this role has been extremely useful for gaining and improving a variety of skills. As part of the role we plan and host events, signpost students to university services, answer students’ questions, work in the reception, help security, promote positive behaviour and help create a sense of community within the residences. As part of those experiences and activities we get to improve skills such as teamwork, communication skills, problem-solving, time management, listening skills and many others. This year, due to the current circumstances, our role has shifted online, which has created opportunities for developing a new set of additional skills. Since we run online events, write articles for the Residence Life website and make content for Instagram, we have become more efficient users of computers and technology (e.g. using software for preparing posters for our events and online content) and we have improved our written communication, adaptability and creativity skills. To prepare us for the role, there is a whole week of training in the beginning of the academic year, with many useful talks and sessions, such as a First Aid class. All these skills and experiences make for a successful CV.

Secondly, the role involves many fun activities and experiences. Each one of our events has a different theme, with some events being more relaxing, others more energetic and others more informative. Hosting and participating in the events is an absolute joy. Another great thing is the ability to combine the role with our own interests. For example, I enjoy learning about cultures, so my first event was about culture share. I also love reading books about wellbeing, so the majority of my articles are wellbeing-related. What’s more, we also have lots of holiday-related events, which are great fun as I really enjoy celebrations. Being able to combine my interests with this role makes me feel more engaged and enthusiastic.

One of my favourite things about this job is being part of a wonderful and inclusive team. The team is made of the Residence Life Manager, the Residence Life Coordinators and the Residence Life Assistants (RLAs). Everyone in the team is very friendly and supportive. We all met during training in the beginning of the year and we did lots of activities together, such as have food together, play games and have conversations. During the year we host and plan events together and we usually work in pairs, depending on who is on shift that day. The whole team meets again at the end of January for a big dinner and again at the end of the year for a spectacular End of Year Celebration. We also live with other RLAs, which allows for great friendships to develop. I am very grateful to have formed amazing friendships with all my RLA flatmates during those three years.

Being able to help other students makes this job very fulfilling and rewarding. Whether it’s something seemingly small such as answering a question or something bigger, such as listening to a student who needs to talk to someone or signposting them to a specific department that could offer them direct support, we’ve made a positive impact on someone’s life. Students, much like adults, struggle with all sorts of problems. They get introduced in the environment that they will be living in the next few years and the pressure is immense. The pressure to adapt to the university (or country's) lifestyle, the pressure to make friends, to be liked, to be successful and to be happy in their new home. It makes me feel good that I can offer them help, or at least to know that there is someone there for them. This is a chance to make a positive impact on someone's life in such an important time of their life.

Last but not least, in exchange of our role we receive free accommodation for the whole academic year in the university halls of residence. I love living here because the environment is social and it makes me feel full of energy. Being around students offers me the opportunity to meet people and socialise, raises my awareness about many different issues that students face during their time at university, keeps me informed and makes me happier. I love being in a social environment, so I chose to live in a lively accommodation, but RLAs also have the choice to live in a quieter accommodation should they wish. Other perks of the role include free Residence Life hoodies, free food and snacks as part of some of our events and free accommodation (and lunch) during training week.

Overall, being part of the Residence Life Team is a life experience and a big part of my university life. It has contributed to my personal-development, it has enabled me to meet some lovely people and form great friendships, it has enhanced my knowledge and skills, it has allowed me to make a positive impact on other people’s lives and it has given me unforgettable memories.

Here is what other Residence Life Assistants think about the role:

Being an RLA has been a wonderful opportunity for self- development and to increase my self-awareness. I've developed my communication skills, presentation skills and event planning skills in such a short period of time. This has improved my confidence greatly. I've also been able to identify my strengths and weaknesses a lot more easily as I've become more self-aware. Thus, I can work on weaknesses and hopefully turn them into strengths. I've also befriended and bonded really well with people, whom I wouldn't have had the chance to interact with if not for this unique role. You will be stretched in this role, you will develop, and you'll definitely grow. It's been a pleasant and exciting journey so far, and I'm excited for what's to come!

- Mercy from South Campus

I think most importantly through Res Life I gained a better understanding of student life and what challenges students face while studying at university. I also improved my communication skills and learned how to listen and talk to students about any problems they might have. Overall, my experience with Res Life has been nothing but positive, and it has really helped me grow as a person.

– Damjan from South Campus

Residence Life is a big team of colleagues and friends, everyone is friendly and welcoming. It gives you lifetime skills that you can apply to any part of your life: job, academic work, social aspects etc. I’ve met the best people being an RLA, made lots of friends and can’t wait to work more with an amazing team, because this work truly makes you and students happier.

- Liza from South Campus

Working as an RLA helped me manage my time better than ever and of course I got a great bunch of friends and had an awesome working environment.

– Shardul from South Campus

If you would like to apply, search 'Residence Life Assistants' on the intranet now  - applications close at midnight on Friday 15th January 2021!


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