By Sam Wageman
It’s unbelievable to think that this semester is coming to an end so quickly. Admittedly at times, for many students, it felt like it would never end. The pandemic has changed so much about all our daily lives, but I’d like to argue that through everything, we’ve all grown both closer together and as people. Before beginning my reflection on this past semester, I need to thank everyone who made it possible including all the student board members, the student workers, and John, Beth, and Ilalee for their constant support.
I remember the very first event celebrating Class XXVI’s acceptance into the program, and how excited everyone was at Joe’s. My peers and I eagerly awaited the day when we would leave for China, and the week before Spring Break I was elected President of the Student Board for T&M. I believe it was this week when news of the seriousness of Covid-19 finally made it’s way to campus, and it was this week when the trip to China was canceled and when we all realized that nothing would be the same for a while.
The very first online event held successfully was the corporate sponsor site visits traditionally held during the summer for Class XXVI. This was the first large Zoom event we have ever planned and required a large learning curve filled with many mistakes. Following this, we knew that we could transition this semester online, and thus planning began.
Virtual Quad Day was our first virtual recruitment event, and this did not go as planned with only 4 students showing up. Without getting disheartened, the recruitment chairs continued to vigorously present to organizations and attend recruitment events slowly reaching out to as many students as possible. All these efforts led to our very first Zoom Recruitment Social, where over 100 interested applicants attended, and breakout rooms were filled with thoughtful questions and games like Among Us. All the anticipation was relieved when collectively over 150 students attended our T&M info sessions, a number that aligned with all of our previous recruitment years. The T&M team is very excited to see how interviews go next semester and we are expecting a turnout of applicants just as large as any year without a pandemic.
Corporate sponsor weeks were also created this semester in light of the pandemic, and each week every corporate sponsor was able to plan virtual events for the T&M students. Notably, Caterpillar brought on exec level employees to speak with students and we had one of the largest turnouts of the semester for this event. Uber was also a new company that participated in our corporate sponsor week and we had the pleasure of gaining T-Mobile as our newest corporate sponsor. Despite the pandemic, companies have still seen the value in recruiting from such an esteemed program and they are consistently giving back to all of us.
Social events were difficult to plan this past semester, but we still managed to find fun whether it was playing Frisbee on Frat Park, virtually completing a ridiculous yet bonding scavenger hunt, or paintballing so much we each left with welts.
We even managed to start many new initiatives this semester that have contributed to making that T&M Program that much more valuable to all students. During the summer of 2020, a new Summer Programming Series was started that allowed students the opportunity to build on skills such as professional development and networking in the hopes that those without or shortened internships would still have a productive summer. The Idea Box is another brand-new initiative that allows any student or alum to tell their story and spread knowledge to others. An affinity space and community known as Women in Engineering and Business (WEB) has also been created just this past semester that aims to create an inclusive community of the T&M family to support women in business, engineering, and tech-related fields. All of these were thought up during a global pandemic, and everyone who helped make these possible deserves so much credit.
Above all else, I think the most notable achievement this semester has been the fact that we’ve all worked virtually together. Through group projects, planning out each event between the staff and workers/board members, and even planning out an amazing 25th-anniversary celebration completely online, we have continued to support every student in this program. This past semester has given us the momentum needed to take on the challenge of creating an even better spring 2020 semester. I applaud everyone’s participation and effort, and I want you all to take a moment to give your own self the recognition you all deserve for showing up as your best selves this entire last semester.
Sam is a senior studying Civil Engineering. She is a member of T&M Class XXV and currently serves as the President of the T&M Student Board. Next summer, she’ll begin working full time at Kimley-Horn.