Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Work Observations

During the school year I work part-time, and summers full-time, for an organization at the school that deals with minority males who are struggling, or, as we call it, "on the fringe"... Some are trying to finish high school, others to get their GED, some are attending the college for their AA or a certificate through the Tech School, and most are trying to find work. The ages span between around 16 to 26, with most falling in the middle of those numbers and not attending for more than a year.

My job here is varied. I take attendance, send out reminders about meetings and events, take and edit photos at events, do all the web-presence stuff, set-up for each event, am kind of an intermediary for the two leaders, am a runner for supplies and info during events, and make sense of all their past and current data. It's that last part that this post is about.

First of all, I don't get how so many people can mess up such an easy sign-in form. Email addresses in the phone number line, phone numbers in the mailing address line, people leaving their zip-codes and the days date off the sheet... it's a mess. The majority of people do it fine, but some people who attend multiple meetings mess up almost every time. It is a little astounding to me.

That isn't just a problem with this group, either... while working at the hotel, you would regularly see comment cards and other fill-outable forms just done plain wrong. Are we really moving at such a high speed that we can't stop, take a breath, and read the form before we just slap info in there?

The first thing specifically related to this group, is the insanely high number of yahoo email addresses. Maybe it's just because me and my friends are all nerds, but I haven't seen this many email addresses since the early 2000's. I'd say that probably 85% are still using yahoo as their email service. Maybe 10% use gmail. Of the remaining 5%, the split between live/hotmail, work email addresses, and other services are pretty even.

On a similar note, it's amazing how many of them give away personal info via their email address. I don't have a fraction or percentage figured out on this, but a good deal use at least part of their real names and if they have to use numbers they put their area code, zip code, or graduation/birth year.

Maybe that's a shock to me because, when I first started using the internet, it was when my family decided to make the plunge into that whole "world wide web" thing. My parents were very sure to tell us about the horrible people out there and to never give personal details. They made sure they knew what handles we used and urged us to use decent passwords. So, for at least me, seeing such obvious identifiers to a real person and where they live or who they are is weird.

The last really big thing is how often phone numbers change. The cell phone number that I have now is the one that my mom got for her car phone in 1993. As I started driving, they made me take one of those old Nokia's with me as I went places so I could check in with them. Of course, that meant all my friends were also using it and so when I got my own line, they just gave that number to me. It has always been my number.

My grandparents both had their phone numbers for most of their lives. My families land-line has always been the same number. I bet if I went home and called the list of numbers in my yearbook, most of them would still be the family land-line for that friends family. So seeing numbers change every couple months or sometimes just weeks is weird.

I've never really thought about it until this summer, but maybe one of the things I can do to help the group is to host a web-seminar thing so that they understand the basics of online life so that they don't get ripped off or something in the future.

But for now... back to inputting data from a few years back into a database.

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