Career Center partners with Housing and Residence Life


Courtesy of Lisa Mann

Headshot of Lisa Mann.

Cody Ferguson, [email protected] , News Writer

New partnerships bring new opportunities and bolster the responsibilities for future resident assistants at UNC Asheville.

“The Career Center has received additional funding and wanted to share it with campus partners. Meghan Harte Weyant asked us to use this funding to bolster the RA Program. We thought that was a great idea,” Career Center Director Lisa Mann said.

The changes in place are meant to elevate the reputation of the resident assistant position. As an RA, one can expect to have one-on-one relationships with students, senior staff, faculty and members of the UNC Asheville community. Assistant Director of Housing and Residence Life Dylan Lawing said these things all stem from the partnership between Housing and Residence Life and the Career Center.

“Employers know what resident assistants are and they like seeing that type of experience on a resume,” Mann said.

The Career Center is entirely optional for students at UNCA, but embedding this resource into the RA program allows for students to receive a plethora of resources so they can go on, after their time at UNCA, to start a fruitful career.

“We want to make sure students are prepared to market themselves with the RA position. This is why we’re requiring a resume on the application,” Lawing said.

The partnership with the Career Center and the subsequent requirement of a resume on the RA application was put in place to give applicants experience with a legitimate, real-world application. Lawing said he felt unprepared when leaving school, going into a real interview and getting involved with a professional process. He said he doesn’t want that experience to befall any student, especially those going into their RA career.

“I can imagine there are concerns about the new resume requirement for application, but I want students to know there are a lot of resources available to get resumes reviewed and created,” Area Director Grace Bergt said. “It’s okay if it’s the first time any student has made or thought about making a resume.”

Along with the resume, there are going to be heightened expectations all around in the 2023-2024 academic year. With great compensation comes great responsibility, as one might expect. Students can plan on a deep-dive into communication, conflict management, conflict mitigation and developing deep interpersonal skills to round out their skillset as a resident assistant.

“We are also planning to give some targeted career assistance to the RA staff. We want to ask about their networking, their resume, how we can get them the best opportunities during career fairs and any small thing to help RA staff get ahead in their career,” Mann said.

Lawing said workshops are something to be implemented by the Career Center in order to better prepare resident assistants for navigating the workplace and conflicts that may come up within their professional lives.

“I have been working with Dylan Lawing on several offerings to RA staff including behind the scenes with local employers, local career treks and other unconfirmed ideas,” Mann said.

The partnership with the Career Center adds another layer to the training and development of RAs. There are conversations to be had about what things their department wants to implement, whether it be workshops, year-long development practices or career readiness, Lawing said.

“Part of all of this is asking ‘do students want it,’” Mann said. “Sometimes people like myself come up with ideas we think are fantastic, but students will tell us it sounds like an awful time. This partnership will be a lot of talking with RA staff on what they want.”

Lawing said this partnership hopes to give future RA staff the ability to market their skills and experiences in the professional world.

“Hopefully we can see a lot of good outcomes from these changes, students feel a sense of belonging, feel excited and look back positively on their experiences in college,” Bergt said.

New funding given to the Career Center is the catalyst for all of these changes, and this funding was given through the state legislative funding increase. Mann said there may be a reduction soon due to enrollment, but their partnership stands.

“There are so many things students can do and the studies here allow students to really delve into how things connect together in the real world. We just haven’t been able to show students what those types of connections look like for a future career,” said Mann.

In years past, the Career Center was a four-person team that only had the ability to do the bare minimum. Now with the relocation to Ramsey Library, extra funding and an additional two people, the Career Center is able to partner with other campus resources, support RA programs and afford to send students to D.C. Mann said they’ve received a lot of financial support and don’t want it being stubbornly held away from other programs who can use it.

“Careers can be changed at any time and you never have to be stuck,” Mann said. “We can connect students with possibility and that’s what I love.”