Posts by Molly Seaman
Since 2018, Colorado College students and faculty have presented their findings from summer research every year at the Summer Research and Internship Symposium. Normally, students, faculty, and family would gather on campus in September 2020 for a series of presentations and discussions to honor and appreciate one another’s hard work—but, like most things, Colorado College’s Summer Research and Internship Symposium will manifest differently this year.
As a rising senior at Colorado College and as a recipient of the Career Center’s 2020 Summer Internship Funding Award, I am unsurprisingly slightly disappointed; however, I am also ecstatic to be a part of the innovative solution.
Andrea Culp, Gretchen Wardell, Brett Woodard, Lisa Schwartz, Rosy Mondragon (who works for the Advising Hub but has done great work for the Career Center this summer), and the rest of the team at the Colorado College Career Center staff have worked very hard to keep the program intact this year despite the difficulties posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. The same workshop is offered to award recipients on Zoom twice a week, making the Career Center’s resources as accessible as possible. A wide variety of topics are discussed during these workshops, ranging from the difficulties of working remotely to self-care to workspace maintenance.
The Career Center offers many more workshops than the number required to receive the grant. As a student, this choice effectively communicates to me that they are, first and most importantly, a constant resource. I am able to attend the workshops that are most relevant to my needs, rather than just sitting through meetings to check off boxes.
The wide variety of meeting topics also frames the Career Center as a possible resource in many areas of my life, both professional and beyond. Talking about topics like self-care as much as we talk about logistics like graduate school entrance exams, I have utilized the Career Center’s resources for indirectly related subjects like mental health, time management, and motivation. This flexibility is especially useful in the era of COVID-19, as the pandemic poses a unique and sizable number of challenges to everyone.
I have been working remotely as the Employment Services Intern at Lutheran Family Services since the beginning of this summer and I will continue to work in this position until I graduate in May 2021. Lutheran Family Services is a non-profit human services agency that provides adoption, foster care, older adult and caregiver, prevention, and refugee services regardless of the clients’ race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, or age. I work with Refugee and Asylee Services, so I help find refugee and asylee clients find employment and/or governmental aid.
This job is meaningful and fulfilling; it is incredible to be a part of securing a job and/or governmental help for the people who often need it the most. Without the Internship Funding Award from Colorado College’s Career Center, I would not have had this life-changing opportunity. The internship is unpaid, and I would have had to pursue options that were more financially viable but further away from my ambitions.
While I am very grateful for the financial compensation, the most useful component of the Career Center’s award is the workshops. It has been invaluable to have the ability to speak with students going through similar situations as me, to be able to ask questions I would not feel comfortable asking anyone else, to watch others succeed and fail and to learn either way, to share my own successes and failures, and to receive constructive criticism and support, especially as I work remotely in quarantine.
As the summer wraps up, the recipients are beginning to plan their Symposium presentations. Both the Career Center staff and the student award recipients have a clearer idea of what the Summer Research and Internship Symposium will look like each week, so I will continue to communicate my experience in the program as we navigate the consistency of obstacles characteristic to the COVID-19 era.
In my personal experience, it can be difficult to be productive while both distance learning and social distancing in tandem. The illusion of a purgatory-like free-time can curtail my motivation, but luckily I have begun to develop strategies to fight against my urge to procrastinate while weathering the COVID-19 pandemic.
I start every day by writing a to-do list. Even if I don’t get everything done, it is satisfying to cross tasks off and to go to sleep at night knowing I did something important with my day. I’m not claiming I’m productive every day—I certainly was not during the block break between Block 7 and Block 8—but at worst I can at least pat myself on the back for washing dishes or for calling about a prescription refill. I also write these to-do lists because I realized that the fantasy of a busy schedule keeps me more productive than the illusion of a bottomless vat of free-time, so I recommend recording to-dos to those struggling to self-motivate during this unprecedented era.
I try to complete the most unappealing tasks on my to-do list first, which allows me to tackle the most difficult parts of my day head-on when I’m feeling most energetic and refreshed. I wish I could say I always stick to this strategy, but self-discipline during the shelter-in-place era is certainly an aspiration that is difficult to achieve.
That being said, procrastination is not always a negative phenomenon. Adam Grant wrote an article titled “Why I Taught Myself to Procrastinate” for The New York Times. Procrastinators are often creative, which supports Grant’s assertion that “procrastination encourage[s] divergent thinking.” Upon self-reflection, my identity—poet, artist, and, admittedly, procrastinator—also support’s Grant’s theory. I think that procrastination allows me to ruminate on projects. As I ruminate, my mind wanders, and I consequently create more unusual or complex products.
Don’t get me wrong, I am certainly not advocating for procrastination. I work hard to satisfy both deadlines and requirements, and I think that’s an important part of being a student and/or employee. However, I think it’s important to avoid framing procrastination as solely shameful, because, managed wisely, the urge to procrastinate can be a creative tool.