Justin Jackson | Cary Quad RA
Major: Law and Society, Psychology
Years as an RA: Two
Why did you decide to become an RA?
I’ve always been interested in helping people. Having a psychology background, and I used to want to do mental health counseling, I thought I might get a little peek into that by just helping people with their life problems and things they encounter every day. To help people build relationships and make friendships.
What is your favorite part of the job?
My favorite part of the job is that I get to meet new people every day. I think it’s pretty awesome to just talk to somebody and hear about their life, differences they have and where they came from, and get to know them.
What are some tasks you have that you were not expecting?
We have to shovel snow some mornings at 5 a.m. so that when students go to class they have a path. The service staff doesn’t get there until 8 a.m. sometimes, and they want the areas 10-15 feet from the doors and entrances to be clear of snow and ice. We have to lay down salt the night before and in the morning get up at 5 a.m. and shovel. So that was unexpected.
Other than that, as you get to know the job other people will come to you and ask questions, and that takes a lot of time and energy just explaining things to them and helping them through situations. That’s more in the second year, being a veteran and being able to help other people doing the job.
What is the biggest challenge?
My biggest challenge as far as being an RA is getting people to step out of their comfort zone. There are quite a bit of guys on my floor this year that are comfortable just playing computer games and don’t ever want to leave their room and talk to people. Specifically that has been difficult trying to get them to open up and actually speak to people and have a social life.
What advice would you give to a resident who wants to become an RA?
Well, if you plan on being involved in a lot of other stuff while being an RA, don’t. Most of the time people don’t anticipate it being as much work as it really is, and random stuff comes up all the time. I feel like you can really only be committed to one or two organizations outside of it because you have your own schoolwork and you have your job. Depending on how much time and work another organization or involvement would be, it’s probably going to overload you if you try to do too much.
How can you apply your experience as an RA to your future career in the real world?
They talk about being an RA as a huge leadership role, and I’ve found that probably 95 percent of the time I am leading the people on my floor to do things that are productive and helping them be successful. I am constantly trying to be a leader for my staff and go through procedures and administrative tasks the way they ought to be and not trying to cut corners. So I think helping to understand leadership and how that can benefit me and help an organization to work well if I am leading people to do the right things.
Why should students want to live in Cary?
A lot of people will argue that it is the best hall on campus. But that’s mostly people that live in Cary. I would say the thing about Cary is we have significantly lower conduct problems than other halls, so there are not a lot of people getting written up. People find pride in their community here and they are taking ownership of things in their hallways and getting involved in meeting new people constantly. I think those things lead to lower conduct issues.
What is your favorite thing to eat in the dining courts?
If you could have any TV/movie character as your best friend, who would it be and why?
Probably Matt Damon, because I love Boston accents and he has the best Boston accent. He’s just a super awesome actor and it would be awesome to hear his Boston accent all the time.
If you have what it takes to be an RA, click here to apply!