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Lessons Learned in ResLife

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at IUP chapter.

As I write this, I am sitting at my desk staring at a walkie-talkie and an early version of an iPhone. It is 10:22PM on a Friday night and the majority of my night will be spent at my desk or in my bed. Why? This is how weekends go when I am on duty.

Most colleges refer to my job as a resident assistant (RA); however, at IUP the job is called a community assistant (CA). Don’t get too hung up on that, we all do the same thing varying slightly depending on the size of school.

I get asked about my job a lot. Questions range from how I feel about it to if I ever get to go home to what exactly do I do. These questions come from everyone—friends, family, residents, residents’ guardians. I don’t mind the questions though because they force me to pause and reflect on my job.

This is my second year working in reslife and with all the wonderful perks of my jobs, I have learned some very valuable lessons.


Lesson one: Life is tough. Be resilient.

My first year was a doozy and I struggled with changes in my personal life and changes in my job. I admit that I didn’t bounce back nearly as quickly as I should have and it took a lot of personal struggle to move past some of those things.

Lesson two: Not everyone is going to like you, try to talk to them anyway.

This is a lesson that applies to everyone. Being liked in this job does not determine how well one can do it. Does it make it easier? Yes. This job has taught me how to foster relationships with people who are very different from me and that has affected my personal life for the better.

Lesson three: Learn when to say no.

My job is put at twenty hours a week. Sometimes it feels like twenty hours a day, but that is because I make it that way. You should always love what you do, but never to sacrifice your personal well-being for it. If you’re already juggling more than you can handle, do not take on another thing. It’s okay to let someone else take control.

Lesson four: Keep laughing.

Some things in life are absolutely not funny, but others are. Cling to those moments and remember them when things get rough. Laugh when you have no idea what to do. Laugh when you are so tired it hurts. Laugh when it’s completely silent. Just laugh and keep laughing because the majority of the things you are worried about right now will not matter in five years.

Lesson five: Learn how to fail.

Failure is inevitable. In this job, I feel like I fail in some way every single day. I have used those failures to grow myself as a person and to force me to realize that there is more than one way to do something. Learn how to fail with grace and how to admit your mistakes. In life, you are going to fail, don’t let that stop you from trying.

I love my job. I love working with college students and I love learning things about myself while I do it. If you are interested in being a CA, RA, or whatever. I highly recommend it. This job has taught me valuable lessons and I am so excited to see where it takes me.

Danielle Jones is from Jeannette, Pennsylvania--a small town with big pride. As an English, Writing major with a minor is Business Administration she loves words and truly believes in their power. She is currently one of two Campus Correspondents for Her Campus at IUP. In her free time, Danielle enjoys reading, writing, and all things Shonda Rhimes.