"I truly found my professional self in this role"
Hometown: Yorktown, Virginia
When were you an RD: July 2013-October 2016
What is your current position:
Assistant Director for Career and Industry Advising in Career Services, Virginia Commonwealth University
Master of Education in Student Personnel Administration in Higher Education, The University of North Carolina at Greensboro
Bachelor of Science in Business Administration and Management, Virginia Commonwealth University
What makes UW Bothell unique?
Because of its size, student demographics and unique features, UW Bothell is an institution unlike any other. Being a part of the University of Washington system offers its students many incredible resources, but the campus size at Bothell provides a small community atmosphere that cannot be found on a larger campus. Specifically in Residential Life at UW Bothell, which is still a fairly new department, you get to be a part of not only the day to day, but the long term outlook. Above all else, the students at UW Bothell are what set it apart. They are hardworking, determined, passionate and there is never a dull moment- and to this day my life is forever impacted by the students I worked with while at UW Bothell.
What did you learn as a Resident Director at UW Bothell?
Since this was my first professional position, I was able to see my strengths and expand on them, while managing my weaknesses. Primarily, I learned that coaching and guiding students is where my passion lies and what gives me purpose along with thinking strategically about the purpose behind what we do. Additionally, I learned about all aspects of housing and residential life, including pieces that I don't think RDs at other institutions have the opportunity to be involved in. I was able to spearhead a major change to our programming approach- which led to revamping RA recruitment, RA training and generally shifted our approach to student learning in the department. I learned how to juggle varying responsibilities - prioritizing tasks while constantly switching gears in various situations, which demanded different skills and expertise. I learned how to be ready for anything, and to roll with the punches, and to never be afraid to ask when I am not sure about something. I truly found my professional self in this role because of the leader I was able to become with the autonomy and support I received while working at UW Bothell.
How has being an RD helped you in your current role?
Even in a role that is outside of residential life I have found that what I learned as an RD contributes to my work everyday! I currently work in career development, and provide career advising to students from all academic departments and stages in their academic careers. As an RD no two days are the same, and similarly, I don't ever see a student with the same issues, questions, or backgrounds. I am able to roll with whatever comes my way, while maintaining my composure and guide a student through the career development process and problem solve creatively. Additionally being able to work so autonomously and lead several large projects at UW Bothell prepared me to be confident in my ability to transition quickly in a new office and take on more tasks and responsibility. Because of my experience in leading our curriculum development, I am able to think and speak about learning outcomes and assessment within my new role. Coming from Res Life hasn't hindered me - it has brought a fresh perspective and enthusiasm to the office I am in.
What would you tell a candidate who is applying to work at UW Bothell?
This role will be unlike any other Resident Director position you might apply to at other institutions. While the number of students that live on campus is small, the number of professionals is as well, so you will become knowledgeable about all aspects of housing and residential life! Not only serving in an on-call duty rotation, supervising and training RAs and responding to student issues and incidents - but in strategic planning for the department and leading initiatives at the university. If you want an experience, or want to incorporate your interests in other functional areas into this role, you can absolutely have those experiences if you ask for them. You will work really hard, but you will gain so much from the varied experiences you will have while working at UW Bothell in Residential Life.
Any other thoughts for new professionals?
Generally I would say that being in Res Life is an amazing first step for preparing for your student affairs career. As someone who said "never housing" before, I am so thankful for my experience in Res Life- ESPECIALLY my unique experience at UW Bothell. I would advise you to think strategically about the experiences you gain if you choose to go into Residential Life, and how they can translate when and if you decide to move into another functional area. There are so many opportunities to weave other aspects into the role creatively. Being able to immerse yourself and have so much impact in a position is very rewarding (sometimes tiring) and unique. I believe that you will be prepared for anything after serving in a role like this.