This is my third and final year on the job. I will continue to be Senior Resident Assistant, but this time for the First-Year Community! Even with a promotion I am not an expert, I am constantly learning and growing. I take suggestions on how to improve if you have them. Now, let the adventure continue!

If Martha Stewart was a Resident Assistant...

A notebook of things I want to do, have done, or wish I could do as a Resident Assistant

Hey there, I'm new to your blog and came across it since I will be a new RA this fall. I wanted to go through your blog so I could get some inspiration and came across a post where you were asking other RA's for advice on what to put on your resume when it came to describing what you do as an RA. Did you get an feedback? I'm working on my resume and was wondering how to put what I will do into words Sincerely, charmingchandu

Hey There!

I did get some feedback, and since then have also spoken with my boss and the career center to describe what I do as an RA. I’m also an SRA so there are some supervisory skills on my resume as well. Here is what I have put down for my RA job:

  • Advocate student needs and concerns to college administration
  • Act as a liaison between students and campus resources
  • Administer and schedule bi-monthly staff meetings
  • Create and manage monthly content marketing campaigns to address student concerns regarding community and social justice
  • Manage a $400 budget to develop and facilitate bi-monthly community development programs
  • Presented workshop on social media use at annual regional conference
  • Keynote Speaker at for 2013 Northern RAP — an annual conference for students in Residential Life
  • Mentors and supervises 10 Resident Assistants on staff
  • Maintain professionalism and confidentiality when dealing with residents

Is there something specific you feel is really awesome that you do that you wish you could put on your resume?  Also, reach out to your boss after a month or so on the job and ask him/her how she would present the job on the resume :)

I have started making my door tags for the upcoming semester!
Theme: Vintage California Surfer

Content Marketing and How You Might Already Be Doing It

As I have mentioned before, I really love reading articles on LinkedIn regarding leadership, management, and marketing. There has been a buzz word the past 6 months or so on LinkedIn and that buzz word is “content marketing.” Okay, so it’s actually two words, but still it’s something a lot of people are talking about and something that not many people know what it means. I couldn’t even figure it out the first few times I came across the phrase, but then I found an entry on the Jolt CMS website and it all made sense. It also became clear that content marketing is what a lot of Resident Assistants do every month through programming and bulletin boards. 

“Content market, at its core, is about providing USEFUL information to your customers and prospects. Information they will find valuable and helpful.” ~ Jolt CMS

 Does that sound familiar to you? Does that sound like your silent program regarding safe sex, or an active program promoting the use of public transit? As RAs we don’t have customers… but we have residents. Similar to customers they often don’t want to “buy” our product (by that I mean they don’t want to come to our programs). So it is up to us to create content/programming that peaks their interests, that is relatable, and that answers their questions. By effective marketing and programming you are able to draw them in, create relationships with them, and solve their problems.

 Jolt CMS continues to describe content marketing as:
“creating content – written content, video content, audio content – that helps people. Particularly people who might also be interested in buying your product or service. It answers questions they have. It addresses concerns they’re dealing with. It provides solutions to frustrations in their daily lives.”

Again, residents aren’t buying our programs, but they are buying into the idea of our program. When we hear there is an issue with poor study skills in our hall we create bulletins with study tips and we might host a study night where tutors attend to help residents. If there is a culture of underage drinking on your campus you create alternative programming during major holidays. We are here to serve our residents’ needs through listening and providing useful information.

Questions Jolt CMS asked regarding your brand and customers (i.e. your hall and your residents) are:

  • Who’s your ideal customer?
  • How do they consume content?
  • What types of problems do they have?
  • What’s your story?
  • How can that story be told to your audience through the content medium they prefer?
  • What “action” do we want our audience to take?

Hall programming should be intentional, both silent and active, because you never know when your programming will change a person’s life/perspective. In addition, as RAs we spend a considerable amount of time and energy preparing and hosting programs so we want our residents to not only attend, but to enjoy the program, tell others about it, and attend future programs.

Being an RA is like being a Marketing Manager. You have a brand (your hall), you have a product (your program) and you have customers (your residents) who you want to enjoy your brand and use your product. You can even take it a step further and keep stats on your programming, how many people attended on what date, what is the feedback, and track any trends you may discover. Not sure how you would even start? Well! There is an awesome five step process on the Jolt website that explains how to approach content marketing if you have never thought about it before. Take 30 minutes and sit down with a pad of paper and then about how these five steps would look in your hall.

I encourage everyone who is an RA to look into marketing theories and techniques, especially content marketing. Also, I encourage everyone to update their resumes saying that they have created and managed content marketing, because there is a good chance you already have been.

So go forth into the upcoming school year knowing that content marketing is not just something corporations create on their blogs, but it is a tangible tool you can incorporate into your hall and RA job.

Figured out my theme for Fall 2014 semester: Vintage California Surfer

Effective E-mail Marketing

Good morning! 

I woke up this morning, made my cup of coffee, logged into my e-mail and saw I had a notification from LinkedIn. Now, this is not a website I use frequently, but I do keep my resume up to date on it so it’s a website I utilize as necessary. One thing I discovered last year is how much I enjoy the articles posted on LinkedIn, especially regarding leadership, management and marketing. They are insightful articles often written by a Fortune 500 CEO about their personal insight into the matter. 

This morning I read the article, 7 Tips to Increasing Your Email Open Rate. It was a well written article with some insight and a lot of reinforcement of what I already thought about e-mails. This is an important subject matter especially in ResLife. I’m finding that more and more residents prefer e-mail as their form of communication, but that I will send out an e-mail and only half the floor has read it. So, in applying the article I read on LinkedIn (topics with an asterisks are pretty much straight from the article) and my own experience of what works well, here is an adapted list of how to send effective e-mails in ResLife.

  1. Don’t Send Too Many E-mails
    While e-mails are a quick way to communicate to the floor, sending an e-mail every day is going to lose it’s effect; it’s no longer an important e-mail from the RA, but instead a piece of spam mail. If you feel you need to send e-mails frequently because of upcoming events, or you forget to mention something in a meeting, try to keep it to a consistent Weekly Update then. This way they expect the weekly e-mail and they know there is important information in the e-mail each week. 
  2. Personalize Your E-mail*
    You can use mail merger to personally address each e-mail to each recipient. So instead of a general heading that says “Hey Ya’ll!” you can have it personal to “Good morning Jane!” While the recipient may know you did not send 48 individual e-mails to update the hall about the Nacho Bar Night, it shows that you did take that extra step. It makes the e-mail reading experience better.
  3. Create a Captivating E-mail Subject*
    "Emails are sent fast and furious every second of the day. The battle of email success is often won (and lost) with your email subject. Take the time to craft an email subject that will pique the interest of your subscribers, while giving them a glimpse at the meat of your message."
    So this means for your movie night pull a memorable quote from the movie as your subject line, “Why Are You So Obsessed With Me?!” Or for a trip to the Farmers Market you could make a subject line “E-I-E-I-O”. Subject lines can be silly, mysterious, or funny… they can be anything but boring to be an effective eye catcher. 
    Also, if you are holding a mandatory event/meeting, do not underestimate the all caps subject: “MANDATORY: Hall Meeting, 7pm TONIGHT”. You can also ask for a read receipt so you know who actually read the e-mail and then did or did not attend.
  4. Ensure Emails are Responsively Designed*
    "Ever visited a website from your smartphone that wasn’t designed responsively? The struggle is real, folks! Emails that are not responsively designed are just as annoying for mobile users"
    This isn’t typically a problem if you’re sending something through your school’s e-mail service or gmail, because they have an app that automatically adjusts as needed the email to be mobile friendly. 
    If you’re using a newsletter service, though, make sure you’re using a layout that is compatible with mobile devices. MailChimp is a branch of Survey Monkey and makes beautiful newsletter templates that are easy and free to use. If you’re interested in sending professional looking email newsletters check out MailChimp (they’re also fun to make!).
  5. Content is King*
    "Just like with blog posts and websites, content is king. Ensure that your email campaigns are purposeful and always include strong, quality content that is well balanced with text and images. Balance is key because too much text may overwhelm your reader and lead to your email being deleted as quickly as it’s opened. On the other hand, too many images or too big of an image may cause slow loading of your email."
    This is similar to my first point… don’t send too many e-mails and the one you do send make sure they are quality. 
    If you have images from a previous hall event it is fun to include them in an e-mail updating the hall or thanking them for attending. If you are showing a movie include the trailer of the movie in the e-mail as a teaser. Or include a cute kitten picture wishing them good luck on finals. 
    If all you really need to do is send a text filled (short) e-mail, try changing the color of the font on the important information they need to see. So if the hall meeting is mandatory change the color of the date time and location to a bright pink and make it bold. 

  6. Ask Residents What They Like Getting E-mails For
    You can’t personalize everyone’s e-mail experience, but you can serve the majority. If your hall wants e-mails about everything because they’re not in the hall often, then go for it, send them weekly e-mails.
    However, sometimes residents receive so many e-mails from their professors, jobs, and parents they don’t care what you have to say. This means you should only send them e-mails regarding the most important stuff and make sure you’re not relying on emails as your sole marketing strategy. This is something you can ask at the first hall meeting, but make sure you check in again mid-way through the semester, because habits change once stress begins. 

  7. Always, Always, Always BCC Group E-mails
    You need to make sure you’re BCCing group e-mails to the hall. Set up a group or an alias that includes your hall, and then use it to easily BCC the members. This is in compliance of FERPA (Family Education Rights and Privacy Act), you’re protecting your resident’s privacy when you BCC. All you need to do is send the email to yourself, or your boss, and then BCC everyone who the e-mail is meant for. This is one of the biggest mistakes I see in ResLife e-mails, and it’s an easy one to fix. 

So there is my list of email tricks. Feel free to respond with your own and add to the list. Any questions shoot me a message or refer to the original article! 

Good luck e-mailing!

Closing, Graduation, and Summer

So, I have not been very active on this blog for the past month or two because life got very busy. 

I graduated with my BA in Public Policy Analysis in May which was amazing! It feels great to be done with school for the summer and to take a break. I will be returning, however, in the Fall to earn my Masters in Public Policy. I will still be the Senior Resident Assistant as well! Next year though, I will be in the first-year community as the SRA. It’s going to be quite the juxtaposition between being a Grad student and living with first-years. My residents, however, will be continuing since I will be in the accessibility hall. It’s also going to be really different because most all my friends graduated with me, so I will be needing to make new friends and lead a new team next year. I keep describing it as a year where things are oddly similar, but horribly different. 

Over the summer I am interning for my hometown’s City Manager and relaxing. I really enjoy my summers home because it gives me time to recenter myself and spend time with family. Even though I only go to school 3 hours away I hardly ever visit during the school year. Some of the things I do while home for summer is gardening, baking, tanning, working out, reading… really nothing too crazy, but I enjoy it. 

I’ll start up door tags and planning my theme in July, so until then I will probably have a slow blog. But thank you to everyone who is still following me! I can’t wait to see what the RAs are planning for Fall semester, and if any questions come to mind I’ll still be around to answer them :)

This could be adapted very easily into a hall program

(Source: ris-and-alex, via fight-like--a---girl)


That’s me!

My graduation announcement

One of the RAs on the team just finished putting up her Silent Program. School ends in 17 days and the ResHall close so it’s about closing. 

I appreciate the Meme