Career Development Arrested by ASIP
By John Yarchoan '13, Contributing Writer
Jason Bateman clearly has a lot on his plate at Amherst. The award-winning actor spent years in Hollywood, playing everything from Michael Bluth on “Arrested Development” to Mark Loring in “Juno.” In 2008, however, Mr. Bateman switched career paths and joined the Career Center under the pseudonym “Ken Koopmans.” Although it was a good act, he didn’t confuse this writer.

At Amherst, Mr. Koopmans oversees student internship opportunities. In particular, he directs the Amherst Select Internship Program (ASIP), which attempts to match “select” Amherst students with internships offered by alumni. ASIP is a fantastic idea. Finding good internships is difficult, and the program is another way for alumni to continue to feel connected to the school. As Mr. Koopmans said in a previous interview, “There are so many great alums who want to give back.”

In practice, ASIP continues to be riddled by problems. The program works off the “Amherst Experience eRecruiting Network,” which may or may not still be compatible with the original 86-DOS operating system. At any given moment, you are only a few hundred clicks away from relevant information about internships or contact information. Also complicating things is that there are three separate login pages to ASIP, but only two of them work, and all of them use unique usernames and passwords. For those of us too busy to write down which username has to end in .edu1 and which password is “changeme”, which is “freetrial” and which will cause my 86-DOS operating system to suffer a catastrophic failure, this is frustrating.

But the network problems are just the tip of the titanic-sinking iceberg. Students have to apply to be “select” enough for ASIP by submitting a resume and a fake cover letter. Not everyone ends up making the cut, and a small number of students are told that they can only have access to the program if they fix certain flaws in their cover letter and resume. However, the penalty for these students is that they cannot apply for internships during the first rolling deadline. I disagree with the notion of withholding this invaluable internship database from students. We all got into Amherst; we are all “select” enough to at the very least apply for Amherst alumni internships, whether we missed a period on our draft resumes or not.

For the past several months, ASIP has been the 800-pound gorilla with explosive diarrhea in my dorm room. Despite submitting my application for ASIP on time, I found myself unable to sign up for the fake interview on the 86-DOS-compatible network. After two e-mails, three separate phone calls with voice recordings and two visits during “Drop-in hours,” I was still unable to track down Mr. Koopmans and resolve the situation. Somehow, it didn’t matter, and I still was able to gain access to the ASIP database.

Sometimes, I wish I hadn’t. The first rolling deadline for internships was January 15th. Like many other students trying to teach ourselves how to make sense of the impossibly confusing system, I had a question for Mr. Koopmans that I e-mailed to him on January 12th. On the day of the 15th, everyone who had emailed him received a response back explaining that he had unfortunately scheduled the first deadline on the same day as his birthday (“so he remembered”), and that he would be unable to answer specific questions.

While I understand that it must be difficult for Mr. Bateman to balance his dual life as a Hollywood actor and ASIP coordinator, this is unacceptable. Clearly, he needs a larger support staff to field questions like mine and resolve the various problems with the system. I want to emphasize that ASIP is a great idea — one that should have been implemented years ago. I also have confidence that it will, someday, serve the purpose it was created for (not serve as some twisted psychology study). However, ASIP needs to be fixed, and it needs it badly.

Issue 22, Submitted 2011-04-13 04:29:36