Student Life, Work

Being a Don

Being a don is one of the most worth while life experiences that I have ever had. The position allows me to step out of my comfort zone and be creative as I have to be an advisor for students while trying to make their university experience fun and memorable. For the past two months of being in this position I have built and strengthened a few skills that I believe are necessary for every day life. These skills include organization, time management, creativity, and compassion. Although the position can be time consuming, it is a lot of fun and you experience growth as well.

Organization and Time Management
Organization is one the main skill sets that’s needed for this position. It is not easy managing school work and extracurriculars while planning events and meetings for your floor and the building. If you don’t organize your week and be disciplined in following your plan, then everything can be quite overwhelming and stressful. As a don, it is important to be available and not be stressed in front of your residents, because they see you as a role model and a leader who can manage their work and their job. I stay organized by writing all of my deadlines on a weekly basis and set days in which I have to have certain things that need to be finished by. My whole life is written in a planner and on a calendar and this helps in staying on track.

Creativity
This position forces you to be creative and it’s not as simple as you may think. One of the tasks as a don is to plan events for your floor, but the challenge is influencing residents to participate in the event. Some residents are either too busy or just don’t want to be involved in residence life and this is something every don should keep in mind. I have planned a few events during the past couple of months and I have had less than half of my floor attend. Even after the millions of emails, Facebook reminders, and knocking on their doors. It is a tricky task.

A picture of food during my games night event

This was one of my events that I hosted. It was a games night on my floor.

My main goal is to create inclusiveness, a small community within my floor, and make the best out of my resident’s university experience. In order for me to achieve this goal, I have to be creative and step out of my comfort zone. In my opinion, the most effective way of understanding what residents enjoy is by listening to their interests and building connections. This will make it easier to think of interesting event ideas that are engaging in the future.

Compassion
As a student we face many challenges in our lives. University is a time you escape the bird’s nest such as your parents home, and be an independent individual. However, being on your own is hard as school can add stress and pressure in addition to challenges one may be facing with health or family. Life can be daunting and this is the time most students figure out themselves and who they want to be. It is a don’s responsibility to ensure their residents are meeting their goals and advise if need be. They also act as emotional support, therefore, compassion is a major skill required for the position. So far I’ve had students who face troubles in their school work, and it’s easy to relate as I had troubles as well when I was in first year. I would give them advise and resources that I know would be helpful and the feeling that it has helped a student succeed is one the best feelings you’ll ever experience. It makes being a don worth while.

It only has been 2 months, but being a don has been an experience that I will cherish deeply. It has it’s ups and downs, but what keeps me going is ensuring that the residents are happy and are having fun. Even if there are certain challenges, I continue to learn from what has failed and try to improve. Talking to my residents, relating to them, and being a role model is something I truly enjoy and it’s important to not let the pressures of school destroy the interaction between you and your residents.