Being A Residence Advisor Helped Me Develop Key Professional Skills

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For two years of my university career, I was a residence advisor (RA).

Had I known back then how much that position and experience would help me in terms of expanding and honing my skill set, I would have told everyone I know to try their hand at being an RA.

Of course, not everyone has the time or the commitment in school to devote hours upon hours to the job, but if you can, it’s a good investment to make (of course, your main reason for involvement should be because you believe in what they do).

“I learned how to manage my time efficiently, how to deal with difficult situations and different types of people, and how to emerge from a mucky situation in a positive manner. These are all skills employers want in their future employees.” —Leeann Yee, University of Toronto Scarborough graduate

Employers nowadays are looking for those skills that they never explicitly mention, but are always looking for.

Things like:

  • Inclusive language
  • Conflict resolution
  • Active listening
  • Teamwork
  • Prioritizing

Employers are not only seeking out candidates who are qualified in terms of education – they want individuals who fit into the team and possesses a well-rounded set of social skills as well.

Working well within a team, understanding where co-workers are coming from, seeing explanations and ideas from different points of view, and inclusive communication are just a few skills that potential employers are trying to suss out of you during an interview.

When I was an RA, there was one very memorable instance during exam time when I had to get out of bed every half hour because of a situation that was so large and messy that it just couldn’t be resolved in one sitting. I had a partner to help, but it was extremely tiresome and frustrating, and decidedly inconvenient timing.

Eventually, the situation was resolved and I was able to get some much-needed sleep. The incident, as exhausting as it may have been, not only taught me how to deal with a conflict, but it also gave me insight into how I personally dealt with problems.

In turn, I learned how to manage my time efficiently, how to deal with difficult situations and different types of people, and how to emerge from a mucky situation in a positive manner. These are all skills employers want in their future employees.

Not only did the little debacle educate me on skills that are an absolute necessity in everyday life and in the workforce, but it taught me a great deal about myself  and how I react in a crisis. That is the beauty of being an RA; it has the ability to allow you to work on both your personal and professional growth.

Aside from the skills and knowledge you obtained during your years and school, being able to learn and communicate the type of employee, worker and teammate you are to a future employer is just as key to securing a job. Market yourself in the best way possible and show employers that you have many positive aspects to offer that can override your lack of experience or particular skill.

All these skills and lessons may seem quite expansive to gain from one single position, but for me – that was most certainly the case, and something that I did not really truly understand and appreciate until I bounded out into the world of job searching.

Photo credit: Show suite . . . student residences by University of Saskatchewan on Flickr
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About the author

Leeann Yee is a University of Toronto (Scarborough) alum. Studied English and History. A freelancer, blogger, aspiring writer, avid Harry Potter fan and loves to travel and eat pasta. Follow Leeann on Twitter: @leeannyee