Sunday, January 15, 2012

Residential Life: It’s Easy to Get In, But Hard to Get Out

It’s that time of the year again! Career Placement Fairs galore! If you live where I am, you have your pick of NASPA, ACPA, OPE, and several local placement exchanges that would give away my location if revealed. It’s obvious that job searching within Higher Education, Residential Life in particular, is a HUGE event that every school cannot ignore. However, for the individual searching, it can be the roughest few months of their lives.

When I graduated and was interviewing for Hall Director positions, it was easy to find jobs to which I could apply. All I had to do was visit a few local recruitment fairs and search to discover an abundance of open positions. Most had the same requirements and deadlines so writing resumes was a snap. I was amazed, although not completely surprised, when I was called for approximately 15 interviews, which led to 5 campus visits. Despite the grueling eight-hour interviews and miles of travel, it was one of the easiest job searches I have completed.

As I earned my experiences and built my resume, I was confident that my credentials would result in a simple step up the Residential Life ladder. However, the rung of said ladder kept creeping beyond my reach and I felt trapped in my current position. With each new RA staff and hall opening, I longed for a live-off position. I applied to job after job only to receive disappointment and rejection. Even the positions for which I landed an on-campus interview ended in, “thanks, but no thanks”. A cynical voice in the back of my head threatened that I will always be a hall director and my only hope out of the live-on position is to return to my table-waiting days.

This year MUST be different. I need to get a new job and feel the rush of paying rent to a landlord that has legal restrictions against entering my apartment unannounced. I need to experience the soul-crushing commute with other hardworking Americans each day. I need to feel like I have a job that really is separate from my personal life. At this point, I do not care if I have to drive 30 minutes to work, I need a change. So, just like the past few years, I polish up my resume, type cover letters until my fingers hurt, and desperately hope that this is the year I move out of a residence hall and into a moderately priced flat. 


  1. I am in the same place. Live off has become a necessity and if I can't find a Rezlife position that is live-off I'm afraid I'll be leaving the field. It pains me but I am no longer healthy and I've realized I can't give my life to my career- no matter how much I love it.
    Best wishes to you!

  2. The sad truth is, there are not enough AD and Director jobs out there, so people are either stuck as RHDs or get burned out and leave the field, feeling bitter. And the AD jobs that ARE out there have started upping the experience they want people to have. It used to be 3-4 years experience, now it's more like 4-6. It's a pretty vicious cycle- and good luck with your search!

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