Life Skills I Have Learned as a UVic Community Leader
This August, I moved into Tower, a building in UVic Residence. This is my fourth year living on campus, and my third year working as a Community Leader (CL) with UVic Residence Life and Education.
Living in residence looks a little bit different this year. But, the strong community that initially drew me to apply to work as a CL is still very much intact. Working in residence has brought me some of the most challenging, rewarding, and incredible experiences of my degree.
Reflecting on my time in ResLife so far, here are six life skills I have learned as a Community Leader at UVic.
1. Active Listening.
I have learned that when someone shares something personal with you, the best thing you can do is listen. You can let them know you are listening through words and body language.
Learning concrete active listening skills has helped me be a better friend, and has helped me be more engaged in daily conversations. Most of the time, people don’t need you to instantaneously solve an issue – they just need you to listen.
2. Boundary Setting.
In any setting, it is important to set boundaries between your work life and your personal life. When you live where you work, it is essential. I learned pretty early on that being a CL does not mean being available 24 hours a day.
Setting boundaries that prioritize time for self-care, relaxation, and other important commitments (like schoolwork and sleep!) is necessary to live a balanced life.
Boundary setting is not always easy – for me, it is about checking in consistently with my own needs, and communicating them clearly and kindly.
3. Event Planning.
One of the best parts about being a CL is running fun programs for your community.
Determining what sort of program your residents would enjoy, developing a program plan, creating advertisements, and finally bringing your event to life is a valuable learning process.
Although at times I am still a nervous host, running programs for my residents has given me a chance to step outside of my comfort zone.
Some of my favourite programs I’ve organized so far include a trip to the pumpkin patch, a pool party, an ice cream sundae party, and a cupcake baking night!
In August, each CL is given a budget to spend on programming supplies and community essentials.
Learning how to divide my budget between eight months and prioritize which materials to buy has forced me to think about budget planning in a new way, and consider how I am staying on top of finances in my personal life.
5. Conflict Management.
As a CL, it is not uncommon to deal with a variety of high intensity situations. From guiding residents to mental health resources on campus, to helping residents access Campus Security and medical support, my time as a CL has taught me to stay calm when facing conflict.
It is so easy to lose a clear head in stressful situations like this. But, knowing that support, such as Neighborhood Managers on call, is available, makes conflict management feel achievable.
I also draw from skills learned in training. In training, we play out potential conduct scenarios as a team, with a focus on conflict de-escalation and community building.
6. A Healthy Dose of FUN!
A big part of being a CL is building the foundations for a community where residents feel excited to participate, and feel a sense of belonging in their residence building.
It is about encouraging residents to be themselves, fostering friendships, and using your skills to make a positive difference in your residents’ university experience. For me, a genuine love of living in residence and building community has made my CL experience fun and engaging. This is an energy that I hope to take into future jobs.
Applying to be a Community Leader has turned out to be one of the best experiences of my university career. Despite the challenges this job brings, it has brought many rewards as well.
This job has taught me how to effectively communicate with a huge variety of people, how to set personal boundaries, and how to assist others in crisis. Not only have I made some of my best friends in ResLife, ResLife has taught me how to be a better human.
Become a Community Leader
If you are thinking of applying to be a Community Leader, check out the UVic Housing Portal. Applications close February 1st!
Photo: Johnson Nguyen