It's my job: Concordia residence hall director enjoys mentoring students
Moorhead - Some people may feel like they live at their job, but Amanda Pieters actually does. She is a residence hall director and assistant director of orientation at Concordia College.
In addition to her office, she also has a small apartment in the basement of Park Region Hall.
Q. How did you become a residence hall director? My undergraduate was spent studying English education at the University of Wisconsin La Crosse. During that time, I was an RA (resident assistant) for two years. My senior year, I was the desk coordinator senior staff, which is sort of like the DA (director’s assistant) here.
I loved my time as an RA. I just couldn’t get enough of it. I didn’t realize you could do something like this as a job. You don’t grow up thinking, “I want to be a hall director.” You don’t even know what that is.
What are some of your duties as residence hall director? We wear a lot of hats and that’s part of what makes this job so great. The part I enjoy the most is relationship building with my team. I directly supervise six RAs, one ARA (associate resident assistant) and a DA.
A big part of my job is also just getting residents to feel like they have a home and are comfortable here. Part of our mission as a residence life department is really to foster a safe place to live, a safe place to learn, and a safe place to grow.
Residence hall directors are also trained to respond to emergency situations or students in crises. Depending on the situation, we might be the first responders and then get others involved as needed.
I also work with facilities management to make sure my facility is up to par. It’s a little bit of being a building manager of an apartment, but it’s also much more than that. My tenants are my students.
What are some of the challenges of your job? The biggest challenge for me is that some of the work doesn’t fit into 9 to 5. In those moments when you’re responding to a student crisis or emergency of some kind, ranging from a broken pipe to concerns about a student’s well-being, often those calls come in at 2 or 3 in the morning. It’s part of the job, but it can be challenging to find that workplace balance.
It is challenging sometimes to make the time to get away and go off campus. You need to have the chance to feel like you have a life outside your job because you live where you work. We have a great support staff so it’s easy to do, but I just have to carve it in.
How about the rewards? For me, having an education background and liking that relationship component, it’s an opportunity to be a teacher outside of the traditional classroom. The lessons I teach are not the typical, “Here is what a conjunction is.” It’s real-life stuff. It’s about being there for those folks when they’re having a hard time and saying, “You can get through this. Let’s work through it together.”
Seeing students from the time they start to graduation, that’s really awesome. … To be there during their trials and tribulations as well as their successes and to celebrate with them, that is what I love.
What is your long-term plan? The way it works with student affairs, hall directors really are more of an entry-level position within that field. It’s temporary. Directors typically stay in the position for between three and six years. Often times we’re looking for other paths within the field.
I’m very interested and excited to explore other areas. Social justice and diversity topics are a big passion of mine. I really like the idea of working with students in general. I’m actually finishing my master’s degree this year as well. I’ve been in a program at NDSU while working full time. Once that’s done, it will be a good career booster as well.