Junior Advisor Makes Freshmen Wiser: An Interview with Eric Wainman

A second semester Sophomore, Eric Wainman has been working as a Junior Advisor, or a JA, since the beginning of the semester. “I found out about the job during my freshman year because of my own JA. I asked her about the position, it’s responsibilities and whether she enjoyed the job or not. After talking to her about it, I realized it was something I’d love to do myself.” 

The application process to become a JA includes submitting two recommendations, an interview with the residence life staff, and a written essay about why the applicant wishes to hold the position. Eric wanted to apply for the job because his JA really helped him transition into his first year of college, and he wished to work with incoming freshman to do the same.

As a Junior Advisor, Eric serves as a resident peer advisor to around twelve to twenty incoming students, advising them when they ask for help, organizing activities for the students, and mediating disputes or incidents if they arise. Although the responsibilities and expectations of a JA are high, Eric states that “the day to day tasks are just talking with the first years on my floor and keeping in contact with them. However, for my job I also must have 5 programs with the first-years, with 3 being educational and 2 fun activities, not that the educational programs aren’t fun.” According to Eric, these programs can be anything, “from pumpkin carving and sexual assault talks to dinner. Also my job entails keeping in touch with all my first years and helping them with any social, academic problem that comes their way and giving them advice on these matters. Also the residence life staff meets every Tuesday for lunch.” Eric works around 6 hours a week, although it varies from week to week.

When it comes to the perks of the job, Eric states that JAs oftentimes “get very nice rooms” as well as having the ability to “get to know the deans well.” But what Eric enjoys most is the social aspect. “Being able to spend time with first years as they go through their first year of college while also getting to know them is the best perk of the job. Although, I don’t know if you can call it a perk since it’s the basis of the position.” Eric has also learned things from the Freshmen he JAs for, including where they are from, what they are interested in, as well as random factoids about them. “There’s a great advantage to living in first-year housing. It pairs a diverse group of students who may not get to know each other otherwise. The room next to mine has students from Texas, New York City, and Zimbabwe. They always have the most lively discussions. One of the first years I oversee is a Quaker and went to a Quaker school. His stories about his time at the school and just the basic tenets of the religion are extremely interesting and I’ve learned a lot about him this way.”

When it comes to how filling the position of JA has helped Eric with cultivating experience and skills for his future career, Eric believes that his job really instills a sense of responsibility and commitment that is necessary for working any job. “I think that employers find that being responsible and knowing how to help others is a very valuable skill.” From this job, Eric has learned how to engage with people that he may not have gotten close to otherwise. “Putting myself out there and meeting first years was stepping outside my comfort zone, but now I am much more comfortable with initiating relationships and conversations with new people,” Eric says. “This job has also helped me learn how to deal with people in real life situations and resolving conflicts, which will exist in any job that I encounter and thus are very useful skills to have in the job world.”

Bates College is currently looking for new Junior Advisors for the upcoming year. If Eric’s job sounds like something you would be interested in doing, consider applying for this important position. RC/JA application packets are available online through the Housing & Residence Life Office website page and you can learn about the specifics of the application process there.