Purposeful Reconnection in 2020
When I entered college at Ohio State University, I loved the idea of being part of the Class of 2020. Now, and I can imagine for years to come, saying you are a member of the Class of 2020 is accompanied by sympathetic looks and condolences. A global pandemic and graduating college share some distinct qualities – uncertainty and discouragement to name a few, but also resilience. The normal has completely shifted out from beneath us and the only solution, in both cases, was/is to adapt.
Reflecting on the past few months, the feelings of many students I have spoken with have altered greatly. Initially there was a gripping sense of being robbed of the remaining part of our college experience – goodbyes and celebrations that never took place. Masks instead of caps, Zoom happy hours with family instead of a sit-down dinner with diploma in hand, and, in my case, quarantine yard signs sent from parents trying to make it special. Once the initial pang of losing out on a ceremonial exit faded, however, the question that had shadowed my entire senior year resurfaced – what next?
Entering my professional career mimicked many feelings that I assume were following those entering college in the fall of 2020. How do you make connections virtually? Is it even possible to build relationships without meeting someone face-to-face? My answers to these questions continually came back to the intentional effort we put into our relationships. Gone are the days (currently) that I could meander into the workplace kitchen and strike up a conversation with a peer not on my own team. Students can no longer make those casual class friends by just choosing the same seat every day. But we are not doomed, and those relationships are not extinct.
We all have to get a bit more creative and intentional in the time we invest in others. Personally, since joining the Wisr team in July, I feel a certain closeness with my co-workers and mentors that we have pieced together through Zoom happy hours, lunch “chit chat” sessions with our CEO, and service projects completed alone – and yet together via Zoom. I, like many of you I assume, look forward to the day of actually meeting my co-workers in person. In the meantime, however, I am particularly grateful to be working on a product that is fostering engagement and community for students across the nation. I encourage students and administrators alike to take advantage of the benefits that the digital world is providing for us now and make meaningful connections that have not been organically handed to us this year.