Today’s post is by a PhD student who served as a resident advisor in on-campus graduate housing. He has a great note at the end of the post about knowing when to stop doing a side job.
University: Rice University
Department/Program:Electrical and Computer Engineering
1. What was your side or temporary job?
I was a Resident Assistant for a Graduate Housing residence.
2. How much did you earn?
I was not directly paid, instead I was allowed to live on campus graduate housing for approximately half the rent. Campus graduate housing highly prefers incoming students, thus the chances of having stayed there beyond my second year (and close to campus) would’ve been essentially zero otherwise.
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3. How did you balance your job with your graduate work?
I would read during my office hours. Any time I wasn’t doing an RA task was invested in reading. Having to be on-call over weekend nights gave some incentive/alleviated not going out at least one weekend a month.
4. Did your job complement your graduate work or advance your career?
There’s really no direct impact from that side job to my graduate work, other than a reading space. I was able to bring up my RA experience (specifically handling a fire emergency) during an interview. The company I was interviewing with is big on ‘safety’, so my experience had a big positive impact on me getting the internship.
5. How did you get started with your job?
While a resident I approached the RAs to learn how they got the job. This then helped me be on their radar, and management’s radar, for when they put out an email asking for people to apply.
6. Is there anything else you would like to share about your experience?
Being an RA for graduate housing is a lot different than being an RA for undergraduates. A lot less drama, but there’s a more serious tone to everything. Overall it was a good outlet for me to do something ‘other than research’ while still feeling productive. I do want to point out that, at some point along my PhD my time became more valuable than what I was getting paid/getting out of this experience and it was good for me to have recognized exactly when the tipping point was.