By Nadia Beidas
Lewis students are facing a dark, difficult time in history with the pandemic. Students will continue their studies amid drastic lifestyle changes the pandemic had brought. But worse than the lifestyle changes are the constant and continuous fear for the health of loved ones, a crippling economy and several forms of upheaval.
Despite the challenges upon us, it is important to reflect on the positive aspects of life. You should count yourself fortunate daily if you have a roof over your head, food on the table and you and your loved ones are healthy.
It is very easy these days to fall into despair. But we must cling to hope, and we must believe this time will pass. And we all must try to make plans in a very uncertain future.
Some of you are juniors and seniors and will shortly be facing a drastically changed economy. Like so many fields, the tech industry has had several job cuts. This means the competition for jobs is tougher, and it is not easy for college graduates in normal times to find their first job.
I do not write this to discourage anyone. I would like to encourage you all to keep working as hard as you can. You are all bright and capable of great things.
Start job searching now, and see what classes and skills would help you for the role you hope to assume in the future. You might also want to consider delaying graduation and taking another concentration, or pursuing your graduate studies.
I will also advise you to beware of scams. Check and see if a company has an actual address, reviews, and LinkedIn pages of employees. If an opportunity sounds too good to be true, and there is no address for the business, then it likely does not exist.
At the same time, keep an open mind, apply to jobs heavily and pursue any legitimate opportunities for your future career, including job fairs.
I attended a virtual tech job fair this summer. Due to the number of people at the job fair, I could only get into two chat rooms out of several listed. I waited in line for a long time for other rooms, but they did not open at all in the four-hour event.
One thing that stood out to me was the number of people in the job fair looking for their first job. Many of them had graduate degrees in computer science or data science or computer engineering and were from all over the country. I wonder what the industry is currently missing without the talent out there.
Different types of talent can shine with diversity inclusion. Unfortunately, we are seeing too many examples of divisiveness. This should be absolutely unacceptable in 2020.
In technology and across all industries, it is essential to have a variety of people from all walks of life making contributions. Otherwise we stay in one mindset, we do not grow and we miss out on something potentially spectacular.
Diversity inclusion involves all of us practicing the mission values that are core to who we are as a Lewis community. Befriend different types of people. Befriend people who have a different belief system and outlook than you hold, and you will learn and grow.
Do not ask someone where they are from, ask about their religion, remark on their accent, or flaunt stereotypes. When one does any or all of these things, it emphasizes to the other person that they are different and makes them extremely uncomfortable. These types of questions can come across as exclusive rather than inclusive, especially if you are asking the first time you meet someone.
Make an effort to get to know people, and let the other person decide when or if he or she will tell you about their background. When inquiring comments are made about a person’s background, it does not come across as getting to know a person. Instead, it comes across as a need to define and categorize a person into a stereotype, and it is very hurtful.
We must stand together now and show each other kindness and respect. We must celebrate and embrace our differences. This is the way forward, and it is something we all have control over in a time where so many things are out of control.
You also have the power to keep heartily pursuing your academic and career goals, and I encourage you all to keep working hard. As the new semester starts, I wish you all the best. Students and teachers all deserve credit for their commitment to education and learning in an unprecedented time with numerous challenges.