SWE Staff Finds a Silver Lining While Sheltering in Place Pt. 3

Take a dive into part three of our series featuring teams from the SWE HQ Staff.

Our two teams, Content & Program and Executive & Global Programs are next up highlighting what they are doing while sheltering and how they are working together while being physically apart.


Content & Program Team on What They Are Doing During Sheltering in Place:

Cam Wagner // Project Manager, Learning

SWE Staff Finds a Silver Lining While Sheltering in Place Pt. 3 swe staff

I’m lucky enough to have a sunroom where I can work on my laptop and get some Vitamin-D. On the one nice day we’ve had in Chicago, I also got to work from my hammock in the backyard so that was great! I truly miss my officemates at SWE HQ, but I’m grateful to have some really awesome stand-ins – my roommates and my dog Ralph. (Ralph is loving the stay-at-home order.)

The COVID crisis has been an interesting time for eLearning, which is a lot of what I’ve been working on at SWE. Because distance learning is the world’s only option at the moment, we’re forced to think about how online educational content can be more accessible and more engaging. This has always been a factor in developing SWE’s online professional development but now extends to our conference programming as well. I think the challenge will produce some innovative and fun learning experiences!

Kristina Davison // Coordinator, Instructional Design

SWE Staff Finds a Silver Lining While Sheltering in Place Pt. 3 swe staff

Working from home has been an adjustment for me. I’ve had to figure out new ways that I like to work and what helps me be at my best. I’ve changed my workstation many times from working at my desk in my living room, set up folding tables, changed screens, and worked in other rooms. Currently, I’m working at a desk in my living room because it provides my best buddy Roman a lot of space to roam while still hanging out with me.

Quarantine has allowed me to reflect on myself and my goals, and I’ve begun to work on projects I always pushed off because “I didn’t have time.” I spent a long time thinking about creating a website based on a blog I created for graduate school. I finally bought a domain name for the website and started sketching out my plan for it. I’ve realized that what I enjoy doing at home aligns with what I do at SWE. Any research I do for creating an eLearning course at SWE applies to what I want to do with my website, and skills I need to build to create my website will help me create better content for SWE members. I’m currently learning how to write javascript, and I’m joining eLearning communities on LinkedIn. I’m working to redirect my anxious energy about COVID-19 towards making positive changes in my life. I can’t control COVID-19 or a lot of what happens in the world, but I can control how I respond to the situation.

Markita Riley // Coordinator, Student Programs

SWE Staff Finds a Silver Lining While Sheltering in Place Pt. 3 swe staff

During this pandemic, it’s been an interesting experience full of ebbs and flows. I’ve learned that I’m built for social interaction! Even if it is as small as a conversation during a coffee run, I really appreciate being able to interact with people face-to-face. Zoom and Google Hangouts have really aided in keeping me engaged with both my co-workers and family/friends. I think this is a new and exciting time for L&D. Although I was disappointed that we had to cancel DesignLab and IIBI, this gave our team room to get creative with online content and programming. My focus is on virtual options to engage SWENexters to stay plugged into the SWENext community and explore STEM, especially at this critical time. As we challenge our students, we are also being challenged and even stretched to think outside the box and try new things.

Working remotely, this has triggered inspiration in my personal life. I’ve realized the value of time and family. It’s always been so precious, but, in times of crisis, you really take notice of what’s important. I make sure to pull out of my work and spend time with my family to go on walks at our local park and store runs. We often take the long way home just to get more time outside of the house together. I was able to host a “Pajama Jam” virtual family reunion complete with activities from sharing our favorite playlist to guessing tv show theme songs. It is nice to create a sense of connectedness and remove the barriers of distance even if it’s just for a few hours on Zoom. It was such a hit that I’ve been tasked with continuing these virtual family events! I’ve also taken on home improvement projects…why did I do that?

It started with creating an office space and migrated to bathroom upgrades. I can’t lie and say it’s been easy, but that feeling of pride is priceless when you’ve had enough patience to work through the “uh ohs” and “why isn’t this working”. With that being said, it’s kind of a message that speaks to our current situation in the world. Life is full of surprises and not all of them are good and often challenge our thinking and ways of being, but if we have faith and patience to work through the tough times the victory is just on the other side. The bonus is the person you become, the work you produce, and the skills you gain from it all.


Executive & Global Programs on What They Are Doing During Sheltering in Place:

Emily Burnett // Manager, Global Programs

SWE Staff- Emily

Like my colleagues, I miss our office and being together in person! These days, my workstation moves around my house with me as I keep an eye on my very active 2-year-old son, Elias. My partner and I take turns getting him snacks, playing the Lion King soundtrack, and building forts to keep him busy. To our amazement, Elias recently decided to start napping regularly, which has definitely been the biggest win of this lockdown for us.

As the pandemic is impacting countries differently, I have been spending more time monitoring global changes to understand what our members and programs need to adapt and cope through the crisis. While there is a great deal of fear and sadness, it has been incredible to see how people around the world are craving connection through their SWE community and looking out for one another.

Dee Mannella // Coordinator, Global Programs and Executive Office

swe staff- Dee

My mom has always advised, “be the water, not the rock”. Over the last few months, it has become apparent to me that the survivors of life may not be the strongest or smartest, but those who have the ability to adapt to change. As the current situation evolves, we can strongly agree that the world is facing plenty of changes in daily routines and future plans. I have learned in life there are always two sides: people who complain and people who take action to make the most of a situation. From personal experience, I will tell you the latter is advised. 

With most Global Programs and Governance events being postponed or made virtual, the so-thought ‘down-time’ has been looked at as a time to strategize and prepare for future years. Throughout the past several weeks, I have been teaching myself the basic theories of Project Management and how it relates to Portfolio, Programs and Operations Management. The Project Management Institute’s Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge is helping me to gain a deeper understanding of the work I perform within SWE Global and Governance, and how projects can be arranged, built and integrated as one systematic, visible framework. You would be surprised how much you can learn when you are not allowed to socialize! 

As COVID continues to impact our lives, my living room has since morphed into my at-home work station. Utilizing a folding table as my desk, and TV as a makeshift monitor. Since we cannot have our normal in-person meetings, Global Programs has instead replaced regular meet-ups with phone calls or video chats. The team has multiple meetings every week and is in constant communication via email or text. It is interesting to see how productive collaboration can be, even when colleagues are far apart. Thankfully we live in a time where technology makes almost anything possible. 

Having an established workspace is so important, but even more important is being able to maintain our work-life balance during this extended period of home time. Sustaining a healthy balance between professional duties and personal obligations can be more difficult some days than others. I have found that if you are fully committed to a vision, you will find the time and energy to make it happen. Though once you have decided the need to do something, it becomes compelling, and it can be difficult to ignore that compulsion. The best advice I can share is to be present, seize the moment, reflect on your behavior and remember that life is a constant learning curve. 


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