Job 1, Week 1: Honesty is the Best Policy

By Ryan Manning — Monday was the first day of the rest of my life. I began my new position as a Resident Director at the University of Maryland. While I’ve only been on the job for a few days, I’m pretty sure that I love my job.

Since I’ve come in during the middle of the semester, I won’t have the typical training that usually happens for new staff in the summer, I’m sort of gradually easing into the position and picking things up as a I go along. Thankfully, as I find myself diving head-first into the deep end, there’s not much that my time at Marquette hasn’t prepared me for, and if I’m ever stuck I’m lucky to have already been able to meet a number of colleagues willing to help out. All in all, a pretty great first week.

But to be honest, there is one thing that I am pretty nervous about. My favorite part of my work in residence life is definitely developing a great relationship with a Resident Assistant staff. In the past, the RAs have been my source of energy when the job gets exhausting, and I like to think I had a similar effect on them. I know how tough, and at times thankless, the RA position can be, so as a supervisor, I try to make sure that the connection I build with an RA staff gives them the motivation to get through the tougher parts of the job.

Knowing how strong the relationship between an RA and their supervisor can be, starting all over mid-semester is definitely something I’m hesitant about. Some may have been very close to my predecessor, and so may be somewhat resentful to have to start over with someone new; some may not have had a great relationship previously and so may expect a lot of change; some may just have grown accustomed to how things were and may just be reluctant to change. I may even begin to feel similarly as I miss many of the amazing students I worked with at Marquette (though I know I will meet ones here just as fantastic).

For me, it’s a matter of being transparent with my new team. So far, being honest about the transition that will be taking place is important, letting them know that I may be just as nervous as they are about starting over. It creates an opening to have a conversation about mutual expectations and the benefits of new leadership. So, despite my nerves, I’m very very excited. Tonight was our first staff meeting with myself and the RAs, and I must say, they’re a pretty amazing bunch.

Overall, if the first few days have been any indication, I have definitely found a great fit for me. Everything from the students I’ve met, to my interactions with colleagues, to the classical revival architecture (which could only excite a Latin major like myself) , to the weather (PERFECT for my massive sweater collection) just seems right. I’m excited to see where the rest of the year takes me!

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