College is hard enough. Juggling assignments, deadlines, and job applications was already a herculean task. Throw a worldwide pandemic into the mix and the academic rite of passage starts to seem impossible.
Universities and students had to pivot fast. And many did with great success.
We spoke with three Pacific University College of Business students about what it is like working toward a degree during the pandemic. Some have managed to land internships remotely, and score full-time jobs in the process, while others have used quarantine to hone their online marketing and networking skills.
Here's what they had to say.
Fernando Lira, Business Administration major with a double concentration in Finance and Marketing at the College of Business at Pacific University
The first time Fernando Lira stepped foot on Pacific University's campus, he knew it was the place for him.
Lira grew up in the small, coastal Oregon town of Brookings. His parents immigrated from Mexico, and as a first-generation college student, Lira knew he had to pick a school where not only he could meet his academic goals, but one where he would be surrounded by a supportive community with similar aspirations.
"My family never attended college. I knew college was important and my parents wanted me to go," he says. "It's been the greatest decision of my life."
Lira graduates this spring, and credits his success to the Pacific University's College of Business small class size, one-on-one career counseling, extra curriculars, development training, and diverse student body.
"Pacific truly focuses on fostering community throughout all areas of the university," he says. "Student relationships are huge and Pacific provides spaces for students to learn more about one another and get to know other students from all over the world."
Lira said when the pandemic hit, the College of Business quickly adapted to a hybrid model — in-person and virtual classes. But what stood out to Lira most was the support from Pacific's teaching staff.
"Professors are extremely understanding about everything that is going on in the world and each student's unique situations that they live through," Lira says. "They really put students first to ensure they are getting what they deserve out of their education."
Following graduation, Lira has several job offers lined up and completed an internship over the summer remotely. He also intends to pursue a MBA from Pacific University's College of Business, which recently received accreditation from the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP).
Kristen Tamagawa, Double major in Accounting and Business Administration with a concentration in Marketing and a minor in Fine Art at Pacific University
Before the pandemic, Kristen Tamagawa made it a priority to go to as many events, conferences, interviews and firm visits as possible to get a better understanding of her career path after college.
When her summer audit and assurance internship at Deloitte (accounting and consulting firm with an office in Portland) was transformed and condensed into a 2-week virtual internship due to Covid, she knew she had to make the most out of it, too. And she did. So much so that she received an offer from Deloitte to be an audit assistant starting in the fall of 2021.
During her time at the College of Business, Tamagawa volunteered at a local art gallery, Valley Art Association, in Forest Grove, which is part of Cash Oregon and Pacific University's professional development program.
"I was able to interact with many local artists, help publish stories, manage their Facebook account, and then later helped with bookkeeping," she says. "I came to realize that incorporating art in my work-life balance was extremely helpful."
Tamagawa acknowledges graduating in the midst of a pandemic presents unique challenges, but attributes her success to Pacific University's advisors, some of whom she became very close with.
"Prior to coming to Pacific I was a very reserved person and never openly talked about things outside of school," she says. "But the faculty here really showed me that they care about both my academic success as well as my well-being which made me open up more as a person because of it."
Savita Wilson, Business Administration major with a concentration in Marketing and a double minor in Communications and Spanish at the College of Business at Pacific University
Like many students across the country, Savita Wilson struggled with the transition to remote learning during the pandemic. She found herself easily distracted and unmotivated, and missed playing on her soccer team.
What turned it around, however, was Pacific University's hybrid model. For her classes online, Wilson said her teachers frequently made use of Zoom breakout rooms, which offered Wilson the peer-to-peer support she was missing from being in the classroom.
"One of the most common ways professors have stepped it up is by utilizing the online school platform much more effectively to assist all students, remote or in person," says Wilson, who is a Seattle native. "Some also decided that it would be best for the class to be completely online, which shows how committed the College of Business is to making classes as effective as possible."
The pandemic also didn't stop Wilson from sharpening her job hunting skills either. She attended one of the college's virtual events aimed at preparing students to enter the job market in a post-pandemic Oregon, which featured tips and tricks on how to use LinkedIn for networking and marketing. She's also met with her career advisor throughout quarantine to help navigate a job market that is increasingly becoming more remote and work-from-home flexible.
Wilson aims to use her minor in communication and foreign language skills to bolster her future candidacy, and continue her education by pursuing a masters degree in business. Right now, any Pacific University business student interested in taking the GMAT (the business school entrance exam for masters and doctorate programs) will be reimbursed.
"I am hoping to be able to connect with more people with the use of Spanish and I hope that I will be a better coworker, teammate, and employee," she says.
This content was paid for by the College of Business at Pacific University.