For over a month, I’ve sat at the very desk I am sitting at now to attend all of my classes and meet for various group projects with my cohort. While the transition to online classes has not been easy amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the faculty and staff at McIntire have done a phenomenal job making the change as smooth as possible. Looking at the silver linings, the ability to learn and collaborate virtually are added skills I might not have gained through the traditional program format.
I’m in the Business Analytics Track, and a lot of my coursework requires daily use of programs like R, Tableau, and SQL, as well as a few others. Learning these skills in a classroom setting is difficult enough, even with a professor there to troubleshoot any issues that may occur. To account for this, all of our faculty have made themselves accessible around the clock to answer questions or address any problems that arise in our work. In one instance, I remember exchanging emails with a professor past 9 p.m., which speaks volumes about both their level of understanding and dedication to helping us learn.
One thing that has really helped during this transition are my awesome classmates. Every week, the Graduate Commerce Council has held a happy hour or some other social event that allowed us to regularly interact with each other. Sure, we see each other online in class on a daily basis sporting funny virtual backgrounds to lighten the mood, but the one thing we all seem to miss most is social interaction. Throughout this program, I have met some of the most inspiring individuals, and one of the hardest parts of this transition has been being torn away from them. We have found ways to stay in touch through group chats and virtual hangouts, and I’m thankful for technology that allows us to remain connected.
Another positive to come out of this transition has been the effort I put into my coursework outside of the “classroom.” As a competitive student (which most of us are), I always strive to be the best in the class. Because picking up these technical skills has become more challenging over Zoom, I’ve noticed that I’ve been pushing myself harder to comprehend the material. As much as I hate to say it, I’ve found that the switch to online classes has had more positives than negatives, at least for me as a student.
Obviously, I have been talking about the positives and pushing the negatives aside. Don’t get me wrong; there are negatives. Focusing on the negatives, however, is a trap and a waste of time. I am extremely grateful for the effort made by everyone I have met at McIntire, from the students all the way up to our Dean, Carl Zeithaml. By looking for the silver linings during this hard time, I have added as another skill the ability to thrive in a virtual setting in this already transformative experience.