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"It’s all part of the gig as a Sub-Warden"

Ruzel - Image

A warm place to live, secure employment and a role that positively impacts other students – it’s all part of the gig as a Sub-Warden.

Bachelor of Arts student Ruzel Stegen says she wouldn’t trade this job for anything and while it can be “full-on” it’s also rewarding.

“I started the role in February this year. It has definitely had its ups and downs, like all jobs do. You do get the hard stuff and the taking-care-of-people-stuff. You’re their safety net, it’s incredibly special to be that person for 28 residents.”

As a Sub-Warden for Unicol, Ruzel says there is never a dull day.

“Unicol is currently the biggest residential college with more than 500 residents. Each of us have between 14 to 36 residents to support.

“Your job is to take care of them, be their big brother or sister, the person whose door they can knock on when they need help.”

The third-year student says while they are there to support residents, there is also plenty of support for Sub-Wardens too.

“There is so much support in this job, people who we can turn to and say ‘hey I’ve had a really tough week, can I sit with you and vent?’.”

In her role as Sub-Warden every day is different. From planning social activities to emotionally supporting first year students, Ruzel says there’s always an interesting work story at the end of each day.

“It’s busy, I will not lie about it – there’s never a dull moment. There’s always a good story at the end of your shift. We also have regular training including mental health training which is really important. You don’t realise it during the training but you will end up using everything you learn.”

Currently, Ruzel is co-ordinating the College play which she says is an important outlet.

“For an hour each week they can forget about school life and have fun, just laugh, breathe. I think that’s very important. We also organise regular outings and activities. We have weekly Wednesday beach trips and on Sundays we go and watch the sunset and share some chips. We run tutorials each week for different papers, I even started a new event which was a best pick-up line competition,” she laughs. “There is a space for everyone.”

“While academics are important it’s also important to have hobbies and create a space for the students.”

With a role like this, you get out of it what you put in, Ruzel says. Many Sub-Wardens try to incorporate thoughtful touches into their work such as welcome back cards or exam packs.

“You can put 10% in and your residents won’t know who you are, or you can put in 100% and your presence is felt, and when you’re not there they notice.”

She would absolutely recommend being a Sub-Warden to anyone looking for a rewarding job for 2023.

She says while it’s a big job, you learn a lot about yourself and about caring for others.

“You learn patience, you learn kindness, you get to be creative and have fun. Your organisation skills grow, and your time management grows.

“There is so much support. There are 20 other people here I can count on to have my back, and to be there. We are all here to do one job and that job entails various different aspects we support each other in.”

She didn’t live in a college, she lived with her family after relocating from Auckland, but says it’s been a warm welcome and that shouldn’t dissuade anyone from applying for a role.

“It’s about willingness and putting yourself out there, believing you can do a good job. I was very nervous because I hadn’t been in a college, but I trusted that the Deputy Warden hired me for a reason.”

Ruzel is one of 15 Sub-Wardens at Unicol who live-in and says it’s a real plus side to the job.

“I get to have a good room, a warm bed, never have to worry about the power bill or food, we get fed three times a day, there’s always nutritious food.

“I wouldn’t trade this job for anything. There is nothing in this job that is brain dead. No time to get bored. There is always something happening.”

Applications for Sub Wardens in 2023 are opening soon. You can find out more about becoming a Sub-Warden online. Applications close Wednesday 27 July.

Kōrero by Internal Communications Adviser Chelsea McRae