It’s almost time to welcome new members to the Residence Life staff! On Feb. 1, prefect applications are due, and applicants may be starting to feel the pressure of their upcoming interviews. This time last year I was an applicant and had tons of questions of my own, so I figured, now with almost a year of ResLife under my belt, I’d give an inside look into what we do and ease your nerves going into this exciting, yet intimidating process. If you’re torn whether to apply or not, stick around and let’s see if I can spark your interest!
I’ll begin with the basics: What is a prefect?
A Prefect (Resident Assistant) is an individual who lives in the residence halls, not only as a resident, but as a resource for his or her peers. Prefects are students whom others can look to for guidance, support or whatever it may be. They create a sense of community within their pod/floor and hall to make students feel welcomed and safe in their residence hall. Prefects also implement fun programs throughout the year to bring their residents together. Of course, prefects also uphold school policy and document if that policy is broken, but that is just an extremely small part of this important job.
What is the interview process like?
The first round of interviews will be in a group interview format and will take place on Feb. 9. In this interview, applicants will be organized into random groups of typically 4-6 people and presented with a prompt. This prompt will describe a situation and as a group, you determine how you would approach the situation. This interview isn’t necessarily looking for the perfect solution, rather, how you interact with others to work as a team and confront the situation at hand.
The second round is an individual interview and will be the following weekend on Feb. 16. This interview is where you really want to present who you are and what intentions you have with this position. Sorry, no spoilers on questions because every interview is different, but if you are nervous about this portion, check out a new service from the Career Center called Big Interview. It lets you complete a mock interview while recording your answers, so you can watch yourself afterward. If you want specific feedback on your video, stop by the Career Center and you can schedule with a consultant. While you’re there, grab a Career Guide for even more interview tips.
It is after these two rounds that you’ll be notified whether or not you moved on to the third and final round. This is the presentation round and will occur on Feb. 23. You will prepare a presentation based on the prompt that is emailed to you and present solo. This presentation is a wonderful opportunity to, again, show off your personality and also to present anything you want to share that may not have been brought up in your individual interview.
Following your presentation, you’ll be notified over the next few weeks whether you were selected to be a part of the 2019-2020 staff. These few weeks of interviews may seem long and awaiting the letter is honestly tough because you’ll be so anxious to find out, but stay patient and hopeful! Last year was actually my second time applying, so I’ve been through the ups and downs of the application process myself. So, I also advise to not get discouraged if you do not get hired this time around. I applied during my freshman year and didn’t make it to the third round. Looking back, I’m glad I had another year to live on campus, grow and go into my sophomore year interviews much more mature. It was very beneficial when applying again and having a better idea of what to expect.
Following the results, it’s never a bad idea to have a follow-up interview with a Residence Life staff member to discuss your interview and prepare for next year if you plan to apply again. They can offer great insight and guide you in the right direction. There is also an option to fill out a form that will put your name on an alternate list in case any hired staff members study abroad or leave the position for any reason.
What are they looking for in an applicant?
I was told this before I applied, and I can confirm that it holds true: there is no cookie-cutter prefect. Everyone on staff is unique and puts his or her own spin on our job requirements. So, don’t feel like you have to mold to a certain standard during your interview. That’s my biggest tip and I think one that any prefect would tell you: just be yourself. They’re not looking for a stereotypical prefect, because there isn’t one! They’re looking for authenticity and a genuine drive to put your best foot forward as you take on a leadership role on campus.
How does your lifestyle change?
From my experience, my lifestyle has changed quite a bit, but in a good way. It’s not all about me anymore and I have a lot more responsibility. I’ve only been a prefect for about eight months, but I’ve seen a huge change in myself, one that I don’t think would have occurred otherwise. It’s a very grounding job; it keeps me organized and alert. My social skills have improved tremendously and I’m more comfortable putting myself out there and even with having tough conversations. I put time aside in my schedule for ResLife duties like staff meetings, rounds and duty weekends, but I’m on the job 24/7, so I’ve also learned to be flexible with that schedule.
I’ve met some amazing people and made a bond with my staff and with my residents. It’s a special kind of relationship that I never understood until I was hired. I’ve learned a lot about the college and how things work around here. It’s humbling to be a part of it all and have a significant role in others’ college experiences.
Being a part of the Residence Life staff has truly enhanced my own college experience and I wouldn’t change a thing. I’m thankful I persisted after my first round of applying and am here as a prefect today to tell you it’s worth the weeks of interviews and anticipation. If this inspired you to apply, stop by the Student Affairs Office on the first floor of Alfred Hall and give yourself time before the Feb. 1 due date to fill out an application. Feel free to talk with your own prefect if you have any more questions about the position or application process. I’m also available by email: firstname.lastname@example.org for any additional res-life related things that I didn’t cover in this blog!
Wishing you luck!