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The Impacts of the Resident Assistant Position on Post-Graduate Work

26 January 2019


The transition from student to alumni with full-time work is a significant part of student development and the college experience (NAEP, 2015). With the majority of students entering the job market after graduation, schools have long recognized the importance of career development and most campuses have centers dedicated to providing services around career readiness and employ-ability skills. Student affairs practitioners across departments should be invested in the career development of all their students, but especially their student employees. Student affairs practitioners have a heightened obligation to develop their student employees given the profession’s foundational mission of developing students.

However, there is currently a lack of literature at the intersection of student employment on campus and its impact on career readiness and employability (Cholodnuik, 2003; Peck, 2017). One area with significant opportunity for developing student employee career readiness and employability lies in residence life. Residence life programs tend to employ large numbers of resident assistants (RAs) and spend significant amounts of time training and supervising these student leaders over the course of the academic year. RAs are uniquely positioned to develop career readiness and employability skills in their hybrid educational/work setting within a well-woven safety net of full time professional staff invested in their success.

I argue that residence life programs, learning from career services colleagues, should more systematically explore how the RA role impacts graduates’ career readiness and employability and use that information to enhance the long term learning and benefits for RAs.


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