Many offices on campus have jumped on the virtual meeting bandwagon to continue providing important services to CU Denver students. One of those offices is LynxConnect, which houses the Experiential Learning Center, Career Center, Global Education: Study Abroad, and Undergraduate Research.
“We as a campus community are feeling the effects of the pandemic just as our Colorado communities are, but its extremely important to help our students and industry partners look to those goals and successes,” said Tony Smith, director of the Experiential Learning Center. “There are still opportunities we can take on and grow from, and we want to make sure students know we can do this together. We are LynxConnect and we are #LynxStrong!”
Peer advisors and advisors are virtually available to help students with their career readiness needs, such as resume building, interview tips, and more. Appointments can be scheduled on Handshake Monday – Friday, 8 a.m. – 5 p.m., or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
LynxConnect peer advisors, who normally greet students in person at the expansive office space in the Tivoli, have had to make some adjustments to continue serving their fellow students from home. “I have watched our staff and students overcome challenges to not only how we provide our services and resources, but in their own educational journeys,” Smith said, adding, “We are all so proud of our Student and Professional Staff in LynxConnect.”
Hear some tips and tricks from a peer advisor and graduate intern who had to tackle some challenges as they transitioned online.
Elizabeth Evans Faces Internet Problems
Liz Evans, a graduate intern for Undergraduate Research Advising, is working toward her Master of Social Science with a focus on international studies. When she worked at the LynxConnect in person, her days consisted of connecting students with new opportunities for undergraduate research and promoting awareness for research opportunities on campus.
When CU Denver announced restricted access to campus, Evans had a backup plan. She moved her things to her husband’s office space and continued working at some level of normalcy. But when the stay-at-home order went into effect, she encountered a huge roadblock: no internet at home. “We just never needed it,” Evans said. “But the unknown of not having internet for Zoom calls was a huge concern.”
She used a hotspot on her phone until her husband’s work offered to provide Internet. Still, she faced other challenges at home, such as finding a space to work in their small apartment, staying connected with faculty and staff who she had hoped to meet in person, and balancing academics and work. “It’s definitely more tiring,” she said, adding, “Zoom calls are strangely exhausting.”
Nonetheless, she’s making it work. She’s been scheduling more faculty introductions over Zoom and she’s virtually meeting with EUReCA! Fellows who are doing research over the summer. In her classes, she’s found a sense of camaraderie among her peers. “One class is no longer meeting, but a few students organized a weekly Zoom call together,” she said.
She greatly appreciates the LynxConnect staff for giving her ample time to make a contingency plan and staying in communication throughout the transition to online learning.
She has some insight for other students who are working and studying from home.
“It’s important to have structure, so at lunchtime I close my laptop and go for a walk and eat lunch. At the end of work day, I close my work laptop and go for a walk before starting homework. I have my work chair, homework chair, and Netflix chair.
“It’s helped me to remember, we are not just remote working or doing school online, we are working and studying in a pandemic. I try to avoid media overload, so I turn my phone off on the weekend.
“School is taking me a lot more time than it normally does, and that’s ok, but I don’t want to give up on it because I’m here for an education.”
Teiriana Ibarra Gets Creative With Her Work Space
Teiriana Ibarra is a junior in the College of Arts & Media studying Music Business. The first-generation college student is used to working while studying. In addition to serving as a Peer Advisor at the LynxConnect, she’s worked as a Peer Advocate Leader for Student Life, an Event Planner for CU Denver Live!, and in CAM’s Music and Entertainment Industry Studies Office. “I just really like being around people and making sure they are good,” Ibarra said.
Prior to COVID-19, she and her Peer Advisor team would see up to 10 students a day who needed help with a resume or cover letter. They’d connect at a community table in the LynxConnect office or by email. Now, a typical day for Ibarra looks very different.
“I’m at home with my parents and three younger siblings,” she said. Her father works in construction, so he leaves during the day, but her mother, 19-year-old brother, 6-year-old brother, and 2-year-old sister are all under one roof.
“At first it was really difficult,” Ibarra said. “My sister would be crying, my little brother would be running around the house screaming, my other brother would be in his room gaming, and my dad would be wondering what’s for dinner.”
Ibarra’s mindset is, “If you’re going to do something productive, don’t be where you’re comfortable.” So, working from her bedroom wasn’t an option. After some brainstorming, her family got creative and cleared out a corner of the garage to accommodate a desk for Ibarra. That involved reorganizing her dad’s construction tools and her mom’s sewing space.
Now, her family knows when she’s in the garage it’s game on. She has less disruptions and more time to focus on assisting students in her LynxConnect role and completing her classwork. When she’s done for the day, she shuts off work mode and spends quality time with her loved ones.
She has some advice for other students trying to make accommodations during these challenging times.
“Talk to your professors, even if other students aren’t engaged or don’t have their Zoom cameras turned on. I know that can be hard, but we should be doing our part, too, as students.
“Tell your loved ones when you need time alone. I tell my family when I need some time to myself to do a puzzle.
“If I’m really down, I make sure to call a friend and catch up. That helps me out because I get to talk to someone who relates to me and have a laugh.”