Technology Assistants Program a ‘Win-Win’ for Students and Faculty

Posted: February 23, 2007 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

By Dave Andrews

The deadline to enroll for the fall 2007 Technology Assistants Program (TAP), an experiential learning program that trains undergraduate students in technology skills to assist faculty and staff, is April 27.

Each semester, TAP administrators analyze each student applicant’s technical skills and career goals to determine which faculty member’s project would be most suitable to them. After being paired with a faculty or staff member, the student attends workshops and receives online training to learn the skills required to complete a specific project.

Students choose one of three tracks to pursue: web design and development, spreadsheet/database design and development or classroom mentoring. Each student completes a minimum of 45 instructional hours, learning skills pertaining to project management, time management, and technical and customer service know-how. This is in addition to completing 90 project hours.

Participating faculty members meet with their student assistant on a regular basis to provide content for the project, give feedback and work on acquiring the skills necessary to maintain the project once it has been developed.

Since its inception in 1999, TAP has steadily grown in popularity as students and the faculty learn of the program’s benefits.

Melissa Clokey, compensation analyst in Mason’s Human Resources and Payroll department, participated in the program in the spring semester of 2006.

“It is a fabulous program that I fell upon while flipping though the course catalog looking for an elective,” Clokey says. “I was looking for something that could help me in a career as well as something that worked with my schedule. Ultimately, what I did in TAP became my career.”

For Clokey’s project, she created a database for Donna Chittum, who was the compensation analyst for Mason at the time. When Chittum decided to leave her position, Clokey’s experience in TAP made her the perfect candidate to assume the role.

“I learned so much about technology and meeting the customer’s needs,” Clokey explains. “I had a lot of fun because it granted me flexibility.”

Clokey, a part-time student who expects to graduate with a bachelor’s degree in management in the fall of 2008, requested a TAP student to assist her with a project in Human Resources.

“It’s really a win-win situation,” Clokey says. “The faculty or staff member gets free labor, and the student gets the same credits as a normal class but with much more flexibility. Plus the student can put this on his or her resume as well as have a potential reference in the person they work with.”

After seeing firsthand the benefits of TAP, Clokey hopes to continue using the program for years to come.

“As long as I can get a student to work with each semester, I’ll find a project,” she says. “The program is just that valuable.”

To download an application form, visit the TAP web site. Applicants will be notified of acceptance by May 11.

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