By Jean Gan, MMS Class of 2013.
Being a graduate student at Fuqua doesn’t mean you can’t be an active part of Duke’s undergraduate community as well. You can live amongst, make friends with, and even powerfully shape our undergrad community. My two years as a Resident Assistant while a Duke senior and then MMSer were both the most challenging and rewarding of my time at Duke.
I can relate to the story that Kedamai Fisseha, MMS ’10, shared about his RA experience:
“During the MMS program, I was an RA in a freshman dorm. It was a lot of fun, and it helped me to really get immersed in the college experience at Duke. Once I got into the swing of things and got to know my residents, it became one of the most fulfilling jobs I’ve ever had.” Read more about his experience.
Serving as a RA during the MMS program is a remarkable opportunity that few students experience first-hand. I was a business student by day and a neighbor, mentor, resource, event planner, and academic advisor to 33 upperclassmen by night. On the long nights before a MMS team project was due, I sometimes wondered why I became a RA when I had so much other work. I had decided to serve as a RA for a second year because of the community I knew I would help build. My first RA team was like a second family to me and became my strongest support system. They supported me throughout my grad school application process, and I needed that same backbone in my first job search. In addition to my team, I never imagined the ongoing friendships I would make with my residents as a first-year RA. Living and learning with a hall of freshman ladies showed me the kind of legacy that I wanted to leave here at Duke. Through all the perks and frustrations, this role is more than a leadership position: it is a commitment to serving our university and adds a deeper dimension to our crowded student life.
As a RA, there are good aspects:
- Students view and respect you as a role model
- You learn how to be a mentor and gain other soft leadership skills
- You are responsible for making critical decisions
Then, there are challenges:
- You live on campus, apart from your MMS peers
- Various roles and teams pull you in many directions
- You need to make time for yourself and life balance
Being a RA will also prepare you for your career search. The intensive selection and training process mirror the fall recruiting season on-campus. As a RA, you will have no shortage of interview STAR stories and you’ll graduate with employable skills that are hard to learn solely in the classroom. If you are considering the RA position, learn more about the lifestyle and responsibilities, fall and spring application process, and read previous Duke RAs’ stories. The RA application and selection process starts very early, so if you’re a prospective student, start thinking now about whether you might want to be a RA.
For Fuqua grads today, it isn’t enough to be only business leaders. We must be leaders of ourselves, of communities, and of consequence. I chose to lead and serve as a Duke RA — what will be your “and”?