Friday, February 27, 2009

RA Interviews

So the grand total of interview calls I've received is now up to nine. One of them actually I was not able to schedule (they only gave me two time slots, and I couldn't do either one because of OTHER interviews I'd already scheduled), so that leaves me eight.

Three down so far.

It has been fascinating to go around to the various dorms. I didn't do my undergrad here, so I didn't get to experience the whole culture. But every dorm, and each floor, has its own identity and sense of community. Some known for the smart kids, some for the party kids (well, as much of a party school as this math and science place is...). For instance, in one dorm the RA keeps a stash of candy outside his door for the kids. In another, the RA keeps a jar of condoms.

Each place has its own traditions. In one dorm, all events are scheduled for :17 past the hour. Just because. Another floor has a half gallon of milk in its own dedicated fridge that is 14 years, six months old. They have a birthday party for it each year, but it's in a biohazard container now as it ate through the original carton. The older dorms are pretty much a free-for-all for each person to customize their own rooms and floors with painting, shelving, and general modification. Ceiling tiles painted, loft beds constructed, things suspended from the ceiling, you name it some kid has done it. This leads to some pretty nerd-tastic decorating. I've seen chess boards pinned to walls that people move as they walk by. I've seen a mural of the xkcd Map of the Internet comic, and an archway painted with the Stargate Atlantis ring. I love it! A few of the dorms even have woodworking shops in their basements - I'm hooked! I love me my tools. Of course, I have my own if the dorm doesn't supply them... :)

I kinda miss the dorm life sometimes from my undergrad days. Walking around these dorms watching kids playing cards on the floor, hearing random bursts of laughter from those hard at work on problem sets, noting the rows of empty bottles in the kitchen (cheap vodka FTW). Seeing doors open, people heating Ramen in the kitchen, boys fixated on Halo in the lounges.

On the other hand, I don't miss it enough to make it worth it without the free rent. Free rent ROCKS! I make sure to check what kind of rooms each dorm has available for the RAs. Some dorms just give a regular room to the RAs, making a room that is usually a double into a single. Those are not so nice, especially if you have to use the community bathroom. But the newest dorms have dedicated apartments built in for the RA. One I got to see had a bedroom, kitchen, living/dining room, walk in closet, nice big personal bathroom with walk in shower. Very modern, very city, very chic. One RA had his apartment set up with an HD projector pointed at one blank wall - which gives an awesome six foot screen - sweet! So yeah, if I had my druthers, living in an apartment inside an undergrad dorm would be perfect.

I am really excited about possibly getting one of these jobs. I know it sounds silly, but I really have a heart for these kids. I see myself so clearly in the undergrads here, and I am so thrilled to live in a place where the undergrads are so unique, driven, brilliant, and passionate. I love the fact that they are so independent, like I am. One of the housemasters told us the story of an email that went out at 9am one Saturday (at which point I said - 9am? they were up? and he said that they had just not yet gone to bed...) where some residents of the dorm announced they were going to build a DDR system. They figured out what they needed, and sent out a list, and said their goal was to have to built by 7pm and then to throw a party. And do you know, they did it. They downloaded the software open source off the internet, had some EE guy program it all up. Pressure sensors, mats, wire, stock for making support bars all materialized out of the woodwork - kids just had random stuff laying around. Some of the MechE kids configured the pressure sensors into the mat, some art kids figured out how to make the arrows as a cover for the mat, the A/V stuff fell into place somehow. And do you know, by 7pm the DDR system was ready - and the dorm rocked out in true geek style.

How inspiring is that? I get to live and work in a place where people dream big and make the dreams come true. Where the improbable is the order of the day, and nobody even blinks an eye at the sheer genius of it all.

That is why I want this job - I want to help make sure these kids and healthy and happy, well adjusted and following their passions.

And if I have to hand out condoms, well shoot, happy to help. Keep your door closed, pleaseandthankyou, and please refer to the directions if you need....


  1. it is great to read about your life backwards (well, forwards. I started from the beginning...but it feels kind of backwards, especially because this is all before I met you!)

  2. I am impressed that you are interested in reading the whole thing! Glad you are enjoying - it's certainly been neat even for myself to go back and read old posts. It's good to know how far you've come, even if I cringe now at some of the entries...