Brenda Ulloa is an Accounting and Finance major who just recently completed her virtual summer internship with J.P. Morgan and will be joining Deloitte US full-time in the summer of 2021. She has been actively involved in campus initiatives for the past 3 years and continues to stay connected virtually in her final year at UIC Business. We caught up with Brenda to know about her experience this fall and how different her return to campus experience has been so far.
Welcome back to campus (virtually!). How has your semester been so far? Are you taking any classes that meet in person this semester?
My semester has been going pretty well so far. It has definitely been an adjustment since I took the semester off in the spring to do an internship and did not really experience the initial transition from in-person to online. This semester, I do not have any classes that meet in person saving me a lot of commute time.
Can you give us a brief snapshot of your life in the past 6 months?
My life for the past 6 months has consisted of a lot of family time since everyone has been spending more time at home. I also was able to continue on with my summer internship at JP Morgan virtually. Even though my internship was cut short, going from 10 weeks to 5 weeks, I was able to learn so much and meet many professionals within those 5 weeks in a virtual setting.
Even though you don’t meet your classmates, faculty in person, tell us about being connected virtually. What is the “new normal” student experience for you in class and what are the advantages or disadvantages of this new experience?
The “new normal” experience is logging in to a Zoom meeting for class or watching recorded lectures on your own time. If you want to meet with a professor one-on-one, you attend virtual office hours or email them to set up a time to do so. In terms of communicating with classmates, Zoom is the way to go. Sometimes it does become difficult due to lack of responsiveness in certain aspects. Overall, it has been a huge adjustment because in previous semesters I was always on campus, whether it was going to class, meeting up with friends, meeting up with class groups, visiting advisors, visiting professors, etc.. The advantages of being online is that I save commuting time and gas. The disadvantages is that relationships are not being made to the extent that they should have been made.
What has been that one unexpected gain for you due to this “new normal” virtual world and how has it helped you, personally?
One unexpected gain due is the realization that in today’s world of technology, the continuation of day-to-day tasks can be done by working remotely. Before the pandemic, being able to produce the same quality of work that is done in the office at home was always something that people questioned. Now that everyone is working remotely and continuing to function the same or maybe even better proved that it is possible, allowing more flexibility within workplaces as well as some instances at school.
What advice do you want to share with the students who are planning to begin classes in 2021? How should they prepare to face the changing nature of the pandemic and their academics?
The advice that I would share with students that are planning to begin classes in 2021 is that they have to be flexible and make the best out of every situation. During this time, everyone is trying to find the best way to go about things without actually knowing if it’s going to work because it is such a new situation for everyone. Overall, being flexible and being able to adapt quickly will make you much stronger. That goes along with being hard working and willing to take on any challenge that comes your way, whether it's a hard class or finding the right organization to join by purely attending virtual events.
Lastly, when we return to normal operations - what is that one place on campus where you will be headed to?
When operations return back to normal, I would definitely head back to Douglas Hall. As a business student, Douglas Hall is where a majority of my classes take place as well as where I do a lot of my group work, homework and any type of meet up for school. It is also known as the procrastination building for me since I can get caught up talking about non-school related things with friends, classmates and even professors.
Thank you Brenda for sharing your journey with us. We are so happy to hear about your incredible story and we wish you all the very best for the journey ahead. To get in touch with Brenda, please email her or connect with her on LinkedIn.