Undergraduate students who manage other students living in University housing, also called resident assistants (RAs), recently shared their experiences regarding the responsibilities and challenges they face as RAs.
RAs are responsible for being an effective resource for students living in various types of on-campus housing, including residence halls and apartments, according to the University’s residence life website.
As such, they have regular responsibilities and are also required to be readily accessible to their residents, especially in emergency situations and unexpected events. These positions are compensated with free housing and dining through a single room and a 150-block meal plan per semester, according to the website.
Parnika Anand, a Rutgers Business School senior, said that she became an RA in order to give back to the community and create an inclusive environment for her residents.
She said that she was an RA in the Livingston Apartments last year and enjoyed talking to her residents and helping them in any way possible.
Brian Behr, a School of Arts and Sciences senior and an RA in Hardenbergh Hall on the College Avenue campus, said that he applied to be an RA in order to prepare himself for a future career in the education field.
He said that he wanted to establish a diverse and inclusive environment for students, which falls into RA responsibilities. Behr also said that he enjoys how each day as an RA is unique.
“You have a bunch of residents that you’re consistently interacting with,” he said. “Some days the residents are in a good mood, and some days they might feel a little off due to other instances in their lives. You’re tasked with making each day a better day than before for them.”
Raj Mitaliya, a Rutgers Business School junior, said that he enjoys the perks of being an RA, including the free housing and meal plan.
He also said that RAs have to be prepared for situations that arise during their roles that they have received training for. Although they are trained primarily as a precaution, they are still responsible for handling unexpected events if they occur, he said.
Heli Sheth, also a Rutgers Business School junior, said that one of the challenges she faced as an RA so far was finding a work-life balance because RAs are required to work in the same place that they live.
That means that the boundaries between work and personal life were thin, so it was challenging to handle responsibilities at times, she said.
Behr also said that he faced similar challenges, especially because his residents sometimes would forget that he was also a full-time student and had many other responsibilities.
In regard to managing her many responsibilities, Anand said that she created her own schedule to balance her RA responsibilities with other schoolwork and extracurricular activities.
“Making a schedule really helps,” she said. “Including all the deadlines and meetings in your planner means you will never miss a responsibility for the RA role in addition to your schoolwork.”
Similarly, Behr said that it is important to consider taking one step at a time in terms of managing work and job duties.
“No matter the amount of commitments or obligations you have, you’re a human first. You’re allowed to not feel up to it on some days,” he said. “But just knowing that at the end of (the) day that you’re trying your best, to me, is enough.”