What the staffing application process taught me

Opinion by Serena Lin
Feb. 24, 2017, 2:35 a.m.

In order to better build the reading experience, the writer suggests listening to “Coming Home” by Diddy-Dirty Money ft. Skylar Grey while reading.

When I entered the staffing process, I expected the awkward group interviews and the anxiety that comes with an extended application season, but I did not expect to come away with a much deeper insight on Stanford and Residential Education.

Perhaps you’ll find this naive. Of course, I should have expected to learn about the housing system just like I would learn about any company I applied to. I did, but perhaps I was most surprised by how many things I could take away from the whole experience, even if I do not end up with a position.

When I first stepped on campus freshman year, I felt so incredibly touched by freshman dorm staff in all the things that they did. I honestly teared up when I saw the “Gryffindonner” written on the dorm because it just felt like someplace I could be; I immediately felt drawn to what they were doing and knew that I would also embark on the application process down the line. The unexpected part comes in when I realized I also wanted to be able to support upperclassmen wherever I was staffing as well. You might tease me and attribute this to the fact that I ended up getting much fewer freshman dorm interviews. In reality, it stemmed from a combination of things. After living in a freshman dorm last year and going to four-class interviews, I have derived a couple of insights. We know how to help freshmen enjoy their first year, but our struggle comes from not knowing how to maintain that positive attitude for upperclassmen.

The difficulty of sophomore year for me came from appreciating my ability to get on by myself. This might seem counterintuitive, but my attitude of “just getting by” rather than thriving epitomizes this year so far for me. Because of how busy the quarter has been, I have come to terms that my busy schedule translates into me constantly working, and today I found myself feeling relieved to be in class because that meant I would not feel guilty about taking time for myself instead of “being productive.” Many people often associate those who work hard with needing others to support them. From my heavy independence, you might conclude that I need some strong communities to support me and genuinely care about me. I can assure you that is not the issue, and I am incredibly grateful for the amount of people who take time to check in on me and help me through what I’m going through. Support and care simply manifests itself differently when you know that everyone living within 100 feet of you would be happy to help in any way they can. I now want to build in a dorm that includes upperclassmen, revolves around the attitude of having a whole dorm support you and people you can immediately count on, even if you don’t know them all. It doesn’t mean I seek it out, but the overall support just encourages me to constantly push myself towards success, not just when I’m with my close communities.

Through interviews, I also began to get to know resident fellows better. My conversations with them made me realize how important some campus issues are to me. I also realized how much I missed having conversations with “real” adults, people who had different priorities than getting through school. It brought my attention to how much I needed that type of faculty mentorship, which many students on campus struggle to find.

Last but not least, I learned about the process and the people who applied with me. Every group interview I sat in, I felt that everyone seemed qualified and I would have no idea about how to make decisions on who to interview and who not to interview for the next round. It’s still a few weeks before staffing results, and I wish everyone the best of luck in the process. No matter where I’m living, I will take away what I have gotten from these interviews and apply them to my next residence. I’ll be sure to lend an ear to anyone I can and encourage people in any way I can, regardless of my position next year, because every single person contributes to a dorm community.  


Contact Serena Lin at serenal ‘at’ stanford.edu.

Serena Lin is a senior, currently studying English and hoping to attend medical school after college. Her column focuses on relationships of all kinds and explores various perspectives when interacting with different groups of people.

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