Posts tagged as: covid-19

Going Remote: Colorado College’s Career Center Resources 2020

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.

The Pros of Distance Learning

The University of Phoenix became the first institution to launch a fully online collegiate institution that offered both bachelors and master’s degrees in 1989. According to the United States Department of Education, 15.7% of American postsecondary students took exclusively distance education courses in 2017. Distance learning is not a new concept.

 

However, as a Colorado College student, I never chose distance learning. Like millions of American students, professors, and teachers, compulsory distance learning chose me when it was borne out of the coronavirus epidemic. Because of my lack of choice in the matter as well as my impulse to complain about it, I’ve been trying to seek the pros of this unexpected situation since I logged into my first class on March 30th.

 

I observed the first benefit of taking classes online before my first class had even started. I had woken up late, just three minutes before I was supposed to log in to my class Zoom session, and I panicked briefly before quickly realizing that waking up late on the first day of class is no longer the usual hassle. I tied my hair into a knot, sat up in bed, and logged on perfectly on time. Wow! What a concept!

 

In all seriousness, I have observed more meaningful distance learning benefits. Because I am an English major, my classes often contend with emotionally-charged subject matters like racism, trauma, abuse, sexism, homophobia, and impoverishment. As a result, some classes can become tense, uncomfortable, and/or overwhelming for some students. While taking an online class, students can discreetly manage their emotions off-camera if necessary.

 

In my experience, the option that online classes give to listen without being watched can increase students’ comfort and therefore foster more dynamic, effective conversations. Online classes allow students to remain in a comforting space while discussing difficult topics, whereas in-person classes require students to manage their emotions because students are locked into a physical space with their peers. I think there were moments when I spoke up in my last class because I was able to compose myself off-camera, moments when I would not have spoken up in person.

 

My classmates, my professor, and I are practicing social distancing, so we are more likely to see email, text message, Canvas, and GroupMe notifications. It has been resultingly easier to contact my professor or a classmate if I need to discuss anything class-related.

 

All that said, I’m not going to pretend like I think this is the ideal situation for me. Many of the qualities of Colorado College that drew me to the school are impossible to translate to online learning. I thrive off physically being in my small classes, seeing my friends around campus, and meeting professors for coffee or for a meal at their house with my classmates. However, I recognize that social distancing and distance learning have to be the reality for everyone right now, and I do not think that complaining about a situation over which no one has control is productive. For now, all we can do is try our best to adapt to the circumstances and wait for normalcy’s return.

Distance Learning from the Perspective of an Extroverted Student

The coronavirus epidemic has thrown a considerable number of curveballs into my plans for early 2020, as I am sure most readers have experienced. On March 3rd, an email announcing the cancellation of Colorado College’s Semester Abroad in France incited the most unpredictable and dynamic 40 days of my life. I traveled from France to California to New Mexico and finally to Colorado as I struggled to find the most logical place for me to live for the outbreak’s duration. Two weeks into Block 7, I find myself feeling whiplashed and tired.

 

I consider myself to be almost 100% extroverted. Time alone sucks energy out of me like a vacuum. As I practice social distancing, lethargy blankets my life. The COVID-19 outbreak and its consequences have taught me that socializing is a more important part of my life than I’d previously thought. I’ve also learned that socializing tangentially facilitates my academic success because fatigue negatively impacts my ability to focus.

 

I am currently enrolled in an English course taught by Professor Re Evitt, which is titled “History of the English Language: Power and Society in Language Change.” I am beyond grateful for my professor’s reaction to distance learning. Professor Evitt acknowledges that adjusting to distance learning is difficult and that all of her students are reacting to the pandemic in different ways. She happily re-negotiates deadlines, calmly cracks jokes when technological glitches occur, and even tries to make the online aspect of Zoom classes fun by encouraging us to use the chat and virtual background features during class. My classmates are fun too; they laugh at uncomfortable silences caused by technological delays or Professor Evitt’s dog barking in the background and they enthusiastically delve into the class material despite the circumstances.

 

My classmates and I are all living in different time zones, so Professor Evitt typically holds class every weekday from 11:00 a.m. until 12:30 p.m. Mountain Standard Time and again from 1:30 p.m. until 2:30 p.m. so that all students can attend. About three minutes before class time, I join the virtual meeting by clicking the link listed on the syllabus for that particular day. Because I do not currently own a desk, I usually conduct class in bed with my laptop balanced on my thighs. I turn on the virtual background feature in hopes that pictures from my travels in France disguise the intimacy and bizarreness of the fact that I’m somehow attending school while in bed.

 

I look forward to class-time because it’s almost social. Professor Evitt often facilitates discussions by breaking the class into virtual meetings of three or four students, and I look forward to talking with my peers about a subject that interests me whether the conversation takes place in-person or online. My class focuses on the history of the English language, which is a subject that I think is much more conducive to online learning than, for example, the visual or performing arts or laboratory sciences. This class would be discussion-based in person too, so the biggest obstacle of the transition has been weathering technological issues and the awkwardness of the situation’s unfamiliarity.

 

I’m glad I still enjoy class while distance learning, but I wish it wasn’t the most exciting part of my day. I spend the rest of the day after class either doing my homework or thinking about doing it. At night, my roommates and I sometimes try to entertain ourselves with movies and board games. We joke about all the “exciting things we’re going to do” during our upcoming ten-day-long break, which will occur during Colorado’s stay-at-home order. I’m grateful to have found this living situation recently because I was quarantining completely alone beforehand, and the company of my roommates definitely helps keep me sane.

 

I feel isolated from Colorado College even though I’m currently enrolled in a Colorado College course. I find myself constantly wondering how other professors and students are adjusting to distance learning, and no amount of Zoom conversations with my friends can compensate for my desire to hug them. However, I know that I am not alone in my sentiment; the outbreak has been far from ideal for everyone. For now, I will continue fighting my fatigue and resultant urge to procrastinate, watching movies and playing games with my roommates, and appreciating the effort that my professor and my classmates are putting into adjusting to distance learning.