EOT 343- What is an RA?

Aria Keyser sits down with Jonathon Eigenmann to talk about what goes into being an RA at NC State as well as the responsibilities, goals, and impact it has on her school and professional life. They will also dig a little deeper into what Covid has done to impact her role and how she has adjusted to the times to do the duties she has been told to do.

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Jonathan 0:19
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Jonathan 0:48
Most students who come to NC State usually in one way or another end up meeting with and getting to know many people in their suite and surrounding floors. One person in particular is someone who has a lot of responsibility despite only managing one floor in their dorm. That person is a resident advisor or RA for short. Their job is to help out students on their floor in any way possible in order to help them enjoy their time here at NC State. In order to dive deep into the job of a Resident Advisor and who a Resident Advisor is. I will speak to Aria Keizer, a junior here at NC State studying human biology in charge of the sixth floor in Building E of the Avent Ferry complex. She will sit down with me to talk about what goes into being an RA at NC State as well as responsibilities, goals and impact it has had on her school and professional life. We will also dig a little deeper into what COVID has done to impact her role as an RA and how she has adjusted to the time to do the duties she has been told to do. Miss Keiser, Welcome to Eye on the Triangle.

Aria 1:40
I'm so excited to be here.

Jonathan 1:41
Thank you. So we start off the show a little bit just telling the listeners about a little bit about yourself just kind of like who you are. What's your major? That kind of stuff? What you know?

Aria 1:52
Yeah, absolutely. So I'm a student at NC State. And it's my third year here, and I'm studying human biology. Um, I'm also like, pretty involved with the Spanish club here I'm the secretary. And I'm minoring in Spanish, so I hopefully would like to speak Spanish and use that in a future job. Yeah, that's a little bit about me.

Jonathan 2:16
So I guess the major question we go into talking about what is a Resident Advisor, is why did you want to become one? Well, what was your motivation?

Aria 2:25
My motivation to become a resident advisor was I guess I wanted to be involved on campus more. And like, I knew I wanted to have a job where I could do that, and just be immersed into the community. So this is like a great job that does that. And I'm exposed to lots of different cultures and people, and so I really love that aspect of the job. So, yeah.

Jonathan 2:52
So when did you start become an RA? Like, what was your like, first semester as an RA?

Aria 2:57
This is my first semester. So Fall 2021.

Jonathan 2:58
Personally, as someone who has applied for being an RA, I know a little bit about the process. But can you talk? Can you tell us more about the process of becoming an RA and your experiences and trials you had to go through in order to become one?

Aria 3:14
Absolutely. So I've only been exposed to like the online version, and like the COVID, safe application for RA's. So there is an online application, I think it's on like E-Pack, or NCSU job posting page. And so it's like a application you fill out and it talks, and there's like some questions about like, diversity, and like, why you want to be an RA? And like, who you would like to be around? And like, you're like, just like, why would you want to do this? Um, so you fill out an application, and then that's usually the first step, and after that someone would reach out to you to schedule an interview. And then they asked, you would go to an interview, and they ask you like questions about like your interest and how you plan to get everyone involved and things like that. And then after the interview, that's when that's like, basically the application, so then they would just tell you, if they liked you enough to hire you or not.

Jonathan 4:09
And then I know as part of, you know, being RA, you have to take a class, could you describe like, what kind of like you stuff you do in that class maybe? Like, just overall, like, is it hard? Is it easy? it's just, it's just whatever?

Aria 4:21
I think they had a ticket class in the past, but this I think this might have been like, the first year where like, it's not required or like we don't have to do so I actually none of my colleagues had to take it or are taking it either. So.

Jonathan 4:35
Digging deep into a little bit of the responsibilities and job duties that you have to do, what do you usually have to do on a weekly basis as required for your job like what, like every week, I'm assuming you probably have something you have to do or something you have a quota you have to me or maybe duty you have to do every week? What kind of stuff are you involved with as part of being an RA?

Aria 4:53
So one thing that all RA's do every month is we plan events for the community so that can be events for like culture and diversity, and getting people involved in that, or we can plan events, just to get people talking and to meet people around the complex and things like that. So we'll work on that weekly and have that dispersed out there throughout the month. And then the other thing is, every week, we have at least one to two shifts. And in those shifts that can that comprises of, like, walking around the building every little bit to make sure like, everything's okay. And like, there's like no floods or lights out, or people locked out, or anything like that. And if you're on duty, that means like, you're like, on call. So like if someone calls, then your like you have to respond and like that might just look like someone's locked out of the building. So then you would just like let them in. So some things like that.

Jonathan 5:45
Have you been called a lot when your on duty so far? Has it been pretty quiet?

Aria 5:50
Um, typically towards the beginning of the semester, it's really busy, because like, people are just moving in, they have like a lot of questions, people and like sometimes people get locked out because they're getting adjusted to like college life. But like right now, not really like sometimes we'll get noise complaints, and things like that, but it usually it's pretty quiet, hopefully.

Jonathan 6:11
And one thing I've always kind of been curious about as someone who's lived in dorms for most of his college life has been about the monthly checkups, or I forgot I forgot the exact term they're called, but the monthly checkups that resident fighters have to do when they sit down with a resident and talk about their, you know, what's going on during campus? How are they feeling, their mental health, what they want, how's it out and making friends and all that stuff? Do you think that what what, how it set up is the best way to reach out to your residents? Or do you feel like it could be done another way?

Aria 6:40
So pack chats, I think they are set up pretty well. I like how they are like, but we like we're mandated to ask, like certain types of questions. So like, I feel like sometimes the questions don't really work. But I mean, you kind of just like work around it. And everyone has like a different way of asking it. So I mean, I usually just use it as a way to just to talk to residents like, just to see how they are and not really like, go like strictly by like, all the questions. I ask them, but in my own way, you know, but yeah, I like how they're done. I usually have them in my room or in a lounge anywhere like my residents feel comfortable. So, yeah.

Jonathan 7:22
And then obviously, since we're in a pandemic, COVID has had an impact on everything that's gone on, obviously, you as being an RA, how was it? How's your role of being an RA been affected by COVID? And how have you adapted to be able to navigate the storm of the pandemic that we're in right now?

Aria 7:41
Um, I don't know, like how much has really changed our work rather than like, I know, our training over the summer was like all virtual like over Zoom. So I guess that might have changed, like how efficient our training was. But like right now, I like when I'm working, it doesn't really change. I mean, I guess I could see it in our programs and events, we do have to think like, Oh, if we're serving food, and like we have to be careful, or like, if we can hold it outside, we will because that's- outside is usually a little bit better with like, COVID, because there's like free air. But yeah, I'd say was like programming events, we do have to be more careful, and like considering we do- considering, like how many people we would think would show up and things like that.

Jonathan 8:26
And do you usually have a lot of people show up for your events? Or do you find out a struggle to get people out there because people are kind of just like, sheltered in and don't really want to come out?

Aria 8:38
Um. It's a little bit of both. It depends on the event really, and the day of the event. So are we getting events, we usually get a lot more people we do see a lot of like repeat residents. So we'll see like certain residents that go to a lot of the events and like sometimes we'll see like a brand new resident that we haven't seen at any other events were just like, oh, okay, awesome. It does depend on like, the time and the day, because I I've heard a lot of feedback from my own residents saying, oh, yeah, I just couldn't go because the time or the day, I had a lab I had just had that had that. So we do have to like listen to the feedback. And is this a good day? Is it not a good day? Is it a good time? Is it too late? Is it too early? So yeah, there's a lot of considerations when planning events like that.

Jonathan 9:18
And then obviously, you you send us your first semester so you've been through you've been an RA for a few months. So I guess you could you could say now what what would be a positive and a negative you would say that comes with being an RA like what? What what is a positive that you found and what is maybe a negative or maybe just a- maybe something that needs to be worked on that you feel as an RA in the future?

Aria 9:42
I'm definitely positive for me it's like learning more about other people. I grew up in a really like sheltered home so I didn't really learn about different cultures and things like that. So being an RA I'm kind of forced to because I am getting to know my residents that are all from like different backgrounds. I have some foreign exchange students and people from different states and that's super cool to like, just to get to know them and like talk casually and not like a really program setting, and just to get to know them so that that's probably been my best, my number one positive. And one thing that I've been working on personally is like my conflict, right, like conflict, problem solving things like that, like, we do have to do things where we have to, like, address people and be like, okay, like, yeah, you do have to follow the rules. And that kind of just sucks because like, we are like, we are there to support our residents and to be there, if they need us, but we do have to, we do also have to like follow the rules as well, and make sure they're being followed by everyone. So I guess that is a negative.

Jonathan 10:44
So are you, so I guess the more elaborate are you saying, like there's a struggle kind of between being like a boss and like, kind of being like a another student on campus? Like that struggled to kind of just be be the resident advisor, but also be kind of just one one of those suitemates on the floor.

Aria 10:59
Yeah, sometimes. I want them to come to me if they want to, I don't want them to see me as like somebody can come to but like, they're not gonna want to come to so and that's like, telling them to do stuff, you know, so it's hard to find that balance with them sometimes.

Jonathan 11:12
And then I understand that you get compensation as part of the job, obviously, of any job, you are not just going to do for free unless it's, you know, a volunteer trip or some kind of club or something like that, um, without going to too much personal detail. Like, I'm not trying to get like into your personal stuff. Could you describe just how that conversation works? Or just like, overall, maybe for like a typical RA, like, what did they tell you is like what you get due to your work as an RA?

Aria 11:36
Um, so I know that this is in our contract. So I think it's like pretty much public knowledge. And you get to like, you can see it when you apply, so I think it's pretty okay. So our housing is covered, and we live here and we like, I feel like that's pretty fair, we do get some money for a meal plan. And then we get like paid bi-weekly. So that's pretty much our compensation. It's pretty fair amongst all RA's too, it's all the same.

Jonathan 12:05
And then like as you got chosen for being an RA, did you actually get to choose where you live? Or were you just kind of like randomly chosen out of like maybe some options, you get kind of like how like when we when you first join NC State, you kind of have to pick like three places. And they kind of pick from those three places kind of where you end up.

Aria 12:23
Actually, on the application, when you apply, you select what kind of students you would like to be an RA for. So if you want to be with first year students, or for transfer students, or foreign exchange students, students with families, so like that maybe like a department. So then you can rank those and what you would like to do. So personally, I selected transfer students and first year students as like my number two, but like, as for location, I think I could I put my top three, and then they just put you wherever, but we are RA's so they will place us wherever it is needed. And I also lived here in the Avent Ferry complex last year. So I already know the area pretty well. So I think that's kind of why I was placed here, and that might also like decide where you live as well.

Jonathan 13:08
Now, obviously, this is a job. So obviously, you're gonna put this on your resume, this is something you're going to talk about to your future employers and future interviewees or whatever, who maybe might be in my position asking you about a job. What impact has it had on you in a professional sense? Like has it led to more opportunities? Has it allowed you to grow as an individual or leader, like what impact has it had?

Aria 13:31
Um, I definitely I didn't see myself as a leader before this job, so it has improved like my own like self esteem, I feel more confident talking to people like especially like strangers. So it's improved, like my like confidence and my like just people skills. So like, I think that's what this job really gives us as like really great people skills also improved my conflict problems skills, so. And like you and like, like programming skills, I suppose. Like, just like constantly having to stay on trend and like thinking, like how to do stuff. And of course, like listening to everyone and saying, like, what would be good. So I think those are like, my top like professional skills I've, like learned.

Jonathan 14:18
And this is kind of a question I've been asking a lot of people I've been interviewing, but how how important to you is like social interaction? Especially when you're in you're in a position where you basically have to interact with people that's basically in your job description. But like how important to you is social interaction and how important do you think it is for students to be socially interacting with each other even if they're online or you know, only texting in a groupme?

Aria 14:44
I think it is pretty important. Especially since we've been in a pandemic, when we don't have social interaction, we tend to feel more down or maybe more isolated. So I usually try to check in with my residents when I can or if I see them around I'll you know say hi and see what's up. And then you, I obviously noticed some residents that don't come out of the room or some residents they just like to be by theirself. So that's fine, until like, I noticed, like, it might be a problem, I think there's a, there's a good amount of social interaction that a person can have for, you know, it's like probably too much like, I also I'm the type of person that might not want to talk all the time, like my social battery runs out pretty quick. So there's, there's like a little, there's a perfect gray area where there's, you can get just enough, but like, you're getting just enough, it's not too little, but not too much. So I think there should just be incorporated in every life every day.

Jonathan 15:37
And then this was more of like, an opinion type question. So like, if someone was listening to this and asking, like, Oh, what, what do I need to do? Or what qualifications do I need to have to become an RA? What advice or what things would you tell them just in order to help them, maybe achieve, maybe a goal like becoming an RA? Because I know, being an RA is it's kind of something that allows, like you said, allows you to be involved on campus. So what would what advice or qualifications would you say they would need or need to know in order to become an RA?

Aria 16:10
Yeah so my number one thing would probably be like, find your reason why, and if that if it's just to be an RA, like, why do you want to be RA? Because that's what they're going to ask, and you got to know that answer, and it can't just be like for the compensations. Obviously, that's a great benefit. But you also, like my reason I wanted to be immersed into the community and have that like, driving force to make me get to know people. So I really love that aspect. But it's different for absolutely everyone. So you really got to find your reason why, as far as like what someone should do to become an RA. Um, I would say just like, if you have like steady good grades, that's like a pretty good indicator. Yeah, I mean, in. If you have good people skills, you'll probably do okay. I know, you can't have can be an RA, if you have, like, pending, like Student Conduct things going on. So like, generally, like a good student, like, and you like do pretty good on your interview, you should be you should be okay. I mean, I don't know, exactly, but that's kind of like how I was I had pretty good grades. I didn't have any student conduct things. So yeah.

Jonathan 17:17
Yeah, my last question is pretty simple. Can you just tell the listeners what they can expect from resident advisors? Maybe some people maybe incoming freshmen that are gonna come in the spring? Or maybe just people who were going to start moving into a dorm or that kind of stuff? Like, what can I expect from a resident advisor? And then maybe like, what resources on campus overall, that you tend to offer people when they come here as to allow them to kind of integrate themselves better on campus?

Aria 17:45
Yeah, absolutely. So for all my incoming students, whether they're transfer, or they've already lived here, before their first year students, or it's spring connect students, I always welcome them, and show them around the complex if they need to, and I always let them know like, where everything's at. So that just depends on where they live. So I would just look out for that from your RA's for the introduction, and be like welcoming, I've met a lot of my residents, parents and guardians and family. So that might also happen. Our main job is really just to be there as support and helping you do well, in the semester and in the year. So definitely lean on your RA and take advantage of them and ask questions. A lot of resources I give, if asked is maybe connecting them with like the Counseling Center, or I know there's a lot of like, resources in Talley or like the gym. And there's like a wide variety of resources that can be offered to students. So it really just depends on like, what they would need.

Jonathan 18:50
And then I guess I'm gonna add like one tiny question. Um, I guess, have you enjoyed your semesters being an RA? Just, yeah, simple.

Aria 18:59
Yeah I love being an RA. And getting to know like all my residents, it's great. And even like different residents on different floors, like, just get to know a lot of people.

Jonathan 19:06
Well, that is all the questions I have for today. Thank you, Aria for joining me today. I know it was kind of sudden, but I appreciate you joining me and talking with me about this today.

Aria 19:19
Yeah, thanks so much for having me.

Jonathan 19:20
Music In today's episode was Sailing by Delicate Steve through YouTube audio library license. Thank you for listening to the episode today. If you want to listen to more episodes go to wknc.org/podcast as we have new episodes coming out every Sunday. This is Johnson Eichmann reporting for Eye on the Triangle signing off.

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