Thursday, January 12, 2012

Small Town, Big (City) Dreams #2

Hey Res Life...Nothing Personal!

On top of having a specific dream-job location (NYC), I also have a specific dream of making the leap from Residence Life, where I currently serve as a Hall Director, to a live-off position, either in Career Services, Judicial Affairs, or Academic Advising.

I know what you’re thinking…I must be crazy! And there may be some truth to that…

To explain, graduate school was my first exposure to Residence Life. As an undergraduate student, becoming a RA did not even cross my radar screen for college involvement. Instead, I found myself invested in the Greek system, and consequently avoided any interaction with my RA, who I considered to be “out to get” anyone who crossed his path. Yes, I was the student who memorized when RAs did their rounds in order to avoid any trouble! It’s funny to think that residents probably think the same thing of me and my RA staff!

Anyways, I was proud of my commitment to search outside of Residence Life, until I found myself talking to current Res Lifers. Last semester, during a Holiday gathering, my Res Life colleague nearly spit out her punch when I explained I had dreams of leaving Residence Life. Her reaction is like many others I have encountered over the past few months. When I tell my colleagues, some react as though I have just confessed to a violent crime! Others take it very personal, as if I am breaking up with them after a blissful affair. I assure them that my decision has nothing about my colleagues, my current office, or experience in general. I simply want to look outside of Residence Life because I am a creature of routine, which probably goes without explanation to many of those reading this post.

I get it. For many of them, Res Life is the ONLY functional area in student affairs.

Instead of letting comments from my colleagues bother me, I tell myself that I am talking to die-hard Res-Lifers, and recommit to my choice with a much stronger conviction when I hear how difficult it is to search beyond the pearly white gates of Residence Life (don’t get me wrong, I feel blessed to have had this experience). Although my colleagues challenge my ability to take a stance, I secretly feel blessed when I encounter someone who tells me that I will never find a job, I will be financially unstable, and consequently unhappy. Their Res-Life prophecies, no matter how true, prepare me for what is to come even if they never do.

For now, I dream of the world outside of Residence Life. Even if, in that world, I find myself homeless, poor, and unemployed.

1 comment:

  1. Hey there! My first position in Res Life was as a graduate student too, and even then was very limited (I did late-night/weekend programming focusing on residential students and RA selection/recruitment/training), and went to being a Hall Director as my first professional position.

    I spoke very openly for awhile about how housing wasn't my first choice, but now being out of res life (3 years as a full-time HD), I am SO glad housing was my beginning. Stand fast in what you're looking for, but don't be afraid to waiver just a little bit! Good luck! Holler if you want to chat, :)