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Accommodation

Your guide to being a Resident Assistant

By JForrester 01 Mar 2022

Are you thinking about becoming a Resident Assistant? The RA role is rewarding and busy, you'll be supporting students and helping the Accommodation Services staff with the day to day running of accommodation. We asked our Resident Assistants a bit about the job to help you decide if it might be the perfect role for you!

To apply for the job, you need to live within close walking distance to campus and you need to be registered as a student in the 2021/2022 academic year, if that's you,keep reading...

What's an average day like as an RA?

I usually try and get most of what I want to achieve that day by 5pm, so I have time to shower and get ready for work. 

We start work at 6pm, the first thing to do is collect the keys, the radio and RA phone from the accommodation office. After this I radio through to other members of staff, to let them know we are available and ready for work.

Hannah Organise GIF by HannahWitton

Then I check my emails and the handover from the RA who was on the previous night to see if there is anything I need to add to my to-do list. There might also be requests from other members of accommodation services with tasks for the evening.

I will then get started on logging the parcels. Once this has been completed, if I have time before I open I will check any letters that have not been able to be delivered for whatever reason and try and put them in the correct blue post boxes. We are currently opening the post room between 7-8pm, due to covid, there has been a significant increase in the number of deliveries.

Students may come in and need their fobs updating which we can easily do. Then at 8pm when the last student has visited the post room, I normally lock the door and then begin my patrol of Glenside and the Hollies, I will be checking for health and safety issues, checking all doors are shut correctly and also checking for any fire doors/kitchen doors that have been left open by students and reminding them that they need to be closed. This usually takes 30 mins.

When this is complete, I will then go back into the post room until 11pm and answer any email queries that need to be done and action things on my to-do list that I can do without disturbing students late in the evening. Just before the end of the shift, I write a handover, detailing what I have done that evening and passing on any information to the RA on the following evening and accommodation staff.

What are the best bits about the RA role?

The best part of being an RA, which has been hugely important this year, is the opportunity to meet lots of people on campus whether you are working in the post room, running errands around campus or simply stopping for a chat. It’s nice to know that you become a familiar and friendly face for people to go to if they have any questions or concerns (… not just about where their amazon parcel is!).

Ben Stiller Knowledge GIF

You become very knowledgeable about the campus quickly which is handy if you are a first-year and working alongside the security staff in the evenings has also been great, especially if you need a hand with anything whilst on shift.

Last but not least.. the team! Your fellow RA’s, the RA Coordinator and your line manager make the role even better. It’s a small team but really supportive, there is always someone at the end of the phone!

Words of Wisdom from an RA

Top 10 Tips

1. Make sure you have a plan of what you want to do each shift

2. Keep a professional relationship with the students

3. Be interested and engage with the residents, they’ll trust you more & actually work with you

4. Be prepared for weird, wonderful and unbelievable questions and answers (learning to keep a straight face helps)

Feelings Thoughts GIF by chuber channel

5. Be patient when listening to students, sometimes they just need someone to listen to them

6.Pass on student concerns if you’re worried about what find or hear

7. Ask for help if you’re not sure about something, don’t struggle with it

8. Make friends with the Reception & CSO staff they are a brilliant source of information

9. Communicate, communicate, communicate!!!

10. Don’t believe everything you’re told – there are always three sides to every story!

What other tasks might you have to do as an RA? 

About the Role
One thing I love about the role is how varied it is! As Resident Assistants, we have the opportunity to get involved in a lot of different things, so the job never gets boring.

Here are just a few of the things we get involved in as Resident Assistants:
Open Days:
Each year, the University holds multiple Open Days where potential students come and learn about the courses offered at UWE. They also get the chance to look around the University’s Accommodation if they plan to stay here. Usually, Resident Assistants live on campus and we have 2 flats that we live in. When these Open Days happen, we help out and show potential new freshers and their families the flats and answer any questions they may have.

a woman standing in front of a store window

Arrival’s weekend:
Unfortunately, this year due to the pandemic, we haven’t been able to do this, this year. However, at the start of every year, us Resident Assistants will go to each flat at Glenside & The Hollies where we will introduce ourselves, our team and give an introduction to life at Glenside. It gives us a chance to meet each resident and show them that we’re here to help along with answer any questions that they may have.

Moving out for the first time can be really daunting, so you can make a real impact on new students experience by welcoming them to campus. You might also help out with other things on arrivals weekend, like giving out keys, answering questions from students and their families and giving directions.

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HallsLife events:
The Students Union, partnered with Accommodation, hosts a range of events each year as part of Hallslife. These events are really varied and can be anything from a little coffee chat, a cooking competition, a walk around Bristol, a pizza evening or anything in between. We often get offered to help out at these events, not only providing something new and interesting to do but a bit of extra dosh too (Oh, and free pizza). We can also come up with events ourselves if we have any ideas.

Anything goes:
Whilst we do have a typical schedule of working in the post room and doing patrols. Regularly, a task will come up which we will help with on shift. Sometimes this is a student coming with a query or problem, other times it’s a task to be done that evening. These can sometimes be quite fun as we might have to judge a Hallslife competition like who has the best decorations then giving out the prize, while other times it might be facilitating a flat meeting about some issue such as cleaning or helping a student when they feel homesick.

Whatever happens though, we’re lucky to have a great team over at the main Accommodation office that we can rely on for help if we need it. I’ve never felt like I’m stuck and don’t know what to do as security or a member of accommodation can always help. We also have our own Resident Assistant group chat where we can pester each other for help or advice.

Tips on applying

  • Make sure you read really carefully through the personal specification and job role
  • Use all your past experience in previous jobs, voluntary roles and in education to show how you meet the criteria with lots of real-life examples
  • Try and answer every question in as much detail as possible
  • There is loads of information on UWE's web pages around applying for jobs and preparing for interviews - https://www.uwe.ac.uk/study/career-development/careers-toolkit-resources

To apply head over to  UWE's job pages.

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