McClendon capitalizes on campus jobs

For most students, a campus job is a walk in the park. But few have worked 40 hours a week like Zac McClendon ’10. The long hours and dedication required for a job in admissions makes one job more than enough for any student. Not so for McClendon. Nothing less than two jobs in admissions will do – not to mention the other odd jobs he has around campus.

McClendon is the president of the Purple Key Society and an admissions ambassador, both very unusual campus jobs. As the Purple Key Society president, he works with co-heads Yibai Li ’10 and Aras Holden ’11 to coordinate all overnight visits on campus for prospective students, which includes fielding the initial overnight requests, finding and tracking hosts, pairing up the visitors with current students and following up the visits. “I’m on call 24/7,” McClendon said. “Some weekends I almost don’t sleep.”

Rob Rivas, assistant director of admission and supervisor of the Purple Key Society, said that McClendon’s efficiency and dedication set him apart from other students. “He saw opportunities to give back, to make the jobs of other people around him easier,” Rivas said. “He goes above and beyond in his work. When I ask him to do something, I don’t even have to think about it again.” Rivas and Lili Rodriguez, assistant director of admission, were so impressed by McClendon in 2006 that he began work at admissions as a first-year – the first first-year to ever do so.

“They’re great,” said McClendon of the admissions staff. “I kept in contact with them all through my application process so they recognized my voice when I called. Then, I found that great opportunity.”

Nothing is typical about McClendon’s jobs, from work shifts to responsibilities. So far in this fall semester, McClendon has logged in about 40 hours in a peak pay period and about two hours per week during the quietest times in the admissions office. “It all depends on how much I can get done, and it’s all about time management,” McClendon said. “Some weeks, I know I have to work more because I’ll want time next week, and I have to fit in my work around my exams and papers.”

After hours, McClendon might spend some additional time updating the admissions Web site or maintaining contact with pre-frosh. McClendon also juggles his position with his other commitments on campus, such as a driver, a tutor and a lab researcher. To top it all, McClendon can also be found at the front desk of Schow.

Under McClendon’s leadership, the Purple Key Society has evolved into a highly organized and efficient machine. McClendon has the process of coordinating overnight stays down to a science. With Rivas’ approval, McClendon decides on the organization’s budget allocations to cover the costs of entertaining the multitude of pre-frosh as they arrive on campus.

McClendon’s project this past summer involved implementing a hosting database managed through PeopleSoft, which he accomplished with the technical help of James Allison, project manager at Office for Information Technology (OIT). Williams Purple Key Host on PeopleSoft allows current students to quickly fill out a short profile and hosting preferences sheet, digitizing a massive compilation of host and contact information.

Currently, McClendon has his sights on another resource for Purple Key. “I’m working on a manual for managing the Purple Key Society,” McClendon said. “It will be like a little black book with answers to every question inside.”

Although McClendon would love to keep both admissions positions into his junior year, he realizes that things might change if he studies abroad. “If Zac decides to go abroad, we’ll work on replacing him, which of course he will help us with,” Rivas said. McClendon acknowledged that the office of the president in the Purple Key Society is usually a sophomore position, anyway.

McClendon loves his job and upon graduation, he would like to intern at admissions. “I look at this as a potential career and a potential future,” he said.

For most people, admission into school only defines the beginning of their college careers, but for McClendon, it is his college career.