Being a computer assistant is not an easy job, but every year at least 25 new students sign up for the challenge.
This past Friday, Information Technology Services finished its selection process for next year’s CAs, who will be replacing graduating seniors. CAs are best known for helping out stressed freshman, but they also staff computer clusters and repair hardware and software.
Every year ITS begins the CA hiring process after spring break, with the goal of hiring at least 25 students. CAs are chosen by residential college, with four picked from each, and competition for the job varies from college to college. This year more than 40 students applied for positions, which entailed filling out applications and doing an interview. ITS will announce next year’s CAs by the middle of this week.
Though ITS officially stopped accepting applications last week, students still interested in the job can get an application at www.yale.edu/cas.
The new CAs will join a core group of more than 20 CAs still on the job.
“The CA job is one that most people don’t leave,” said David Davies, manager of student computing for ITS and head of the hiring process. “Most students tend to grow fond of the job and stick with it throughout their time at Yale. When the freshmen arrive on campus, CAs become very popular and oftentimes find meeting new and different people exciting.”
Prospective CAs do not have to be experts on technology or computer science majors, but they are required to be familiar with Yale networking and to have a functional knowledge of Macintosh and PC hardware. Like most jobs that require social interaction, prospective CAs are also chosen by how well they can handle stressful situations and by their level of patience.
“This isn’t a purely technical or purely social job,” Davies said. “Of course we need people who are good with computers but we also know that most students, particularly freshmen, tend to get stressed out when they are having trouble with their computers or the network. For that reason we need students who can remain calm and fix problems under pressure.”
Chosen CAs undergo an intensive three-day training program in late August. During the program, CAs receive an overview of Yale computing technology, experience with troubleshooting and several hours of technical training. The typical commitment for a CA is 10 hours a week, though that time is doubled during the first month of school, Davies said.
Jacob Brookover ’02 said he became a CA for Morse College two years ago to become more experienced with computers.
“I’m a computer science major but being a CA gives me more hands-on experience with computer networking than I could ever hope for in class,” said Brookover, who will stay with the job through his senior year. “It’s a great job and also gives me a chance to interact with people I wouldn’t normally meet.”
One prospective CA said she hopes to get the job so she can combine technology with helping people.
“I love working with computers and I’ve always enjoyed fixing things,” said Jennifer Bourey ’03. “I also want to help out people in my college and I think this would be a fun and informative way to do that.”