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First-Person Pandemic Reflection

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In the beginning, when hearing about classes being moved online I was excited for what I thought would feel like a long spring break. Instead, I struggled with extreme loss of motivation and felt myself longing for social interaction. I’ve always considered myself an introvert but being away from my friends and professors for extended periods of time became a struggle.

The first month of online classes felt amazing. I was able to do work on my own time and make my own schedule. This is where a problem arose. My being able to do my work, anytime I wanted, meant that often I would put everything off until the last minute. Sometimes I would even neglect to turn in assignments due to me forgetting I was even assigned them. I knew that I had to start changing my habits.

For a time I did freelance digital marketing for a bar in Downtown Chattanooga. I remember something the owner told me. He told me about an old boss he had while working at Berkshire Hathaway, who had every hour of his day scheduled on his online calendar. He made the calendar visible to all of his employees and gave them the option to create an event on his calendar if they needed to meet with him. Remembering this, I started scheduling out my days. Every class meeting and assignment I added to my Google calendar.

Doing this taught me very valuable time management skills that I might not have tried without the COVID-19 pandemic. Procrastination was still a struggle for me, but I knew what assignments I had to do and how much time I had to get them finished. This strategy also helped me schedule meeting times with my interns and the co-owner of my business, Scenic Trend, which is an online publication that helps promote creatives in the Chattanooga area.

My experience isn’t as bad as I would have thought. Although there is still a lot of uncertainty, I can say that I am more comfortable with what I can expect from now on. I have grown as a professional during this pandemic. I am now an expert at conducting virtual meetings and was able to make a lot of connections and moves for my business that I might have not been able to make. Being able to connect to several individuals simultaneously over social networks is a very valuable resource that is starting to pay off after having to adapt to not being able to make these connections in person. I am excited to think about how powerful social networks can be when paired with those face-to-face experiences as we approach normalcy.

This time has also made me very thankful for my mentors. Here at Dalton State, we have so many professors that are always willing to help. I have two wonderful mentors in the marketing/communications department where I intern, Misty Watson and Phil Schlesinger that have helped guide me and form me into a better professional. I have also had the opportunity to connect with so many of the awesome professors in the Wright School of Business during this time, like Professor Cortnee Young, Professor Maria Hammontree, Professor Jamie Connors, Dr. David Williams, Dr. Jon Littlefield, Dr. Marilyn Helms and so many more. I highly recommend taking advantage of the amazing resources we have at Dalton State, like the awesome faculty and staff that are so willing to help guide and advise.

*Note: This first-hand account of being a student during the pandemic was written by Dillan Whisenant, who is graduating this semester with a degree in marketing and has been a student worker in the Office of Marketing and Communication at Dalton State.

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