COVID-19: Becoming a Pivot Person

Looking back on this semester, and specifically this class, I’ve learned to never take things for granted. I didn’t realize how lucky I was until I was suddenly ripped from normal life and isolated from everyone I knew. It seemed like everything was crumbling around me. I no longer had a source of income and my mom had lost her job as well. As for school, everything was so uncertain. People were panicked, places start to close and everyone was scared. School had quickly turned into an online format and it was a hard transition for professors and students alike. For weeks it felt like we were all just scrambling. At first, we were scrambling to help our client when the trip to Trinidad was cancelled. We had to re-evaluate what we could and couldn’t do for them anymore, and then making the best of what we had. After that, we scrambled to find out what school going online meant, and additionally going back to school to pack up our belongings. I had to get accustomed to zooming into online classes, watching all my lectures virtually and even taking tests online too. It was a learning curve for everyone, the first few tests didn’t go well as we figured out timing and how to exactly do the test in itself. When the quarantine first hit, I didn’t have internet at home and was forced to use hotspot on my phone to connect to my computer. Usually I would go to a coffee shop or in worst case scenario go to a friend’s house, but those weren’t options anymore. I never thought of this at school for I always had internet. This obstacle I had to overcome and I’m lucky I could. Some people also don’t have that privilege to be able to get internet though.

Throughout this whole situation sometimes I would sit back and think to myself. Why did this happen to me? Why now? How is this fair? But in looking at other’s situations, I am well off. This brought out the empathy in me. While its true I didn’t get to say goodbye to a lot of people, I’ll hopefully see them in the fall. Some of my senior friends never got to say goodbye to their last few years or each other. I look back now and think how happy I was at school and how little in comparison my worries were. While I wish I could turn back the clock before this all started, I can’t. I have to accept how things are rather than how they were. In short, I’m lucky to be able to get an education even if its online, that I have a home to live at with plenty of food, internet access and the support of my friends and family.

In a reflection of what I’ve learned from all of this, I’ve become much more adaptable. The word “pivot” now gives me anxiety every time I hear it, for I’ve had enough pivot within the past few weeks than I want in a lifetime, but I truly did learn how to pivot. This meant taking things as they came and adjusting on the fly. As mentioned before, we had to re-evaluate our project and our scope of work. While looking at what we had to change, we tried to focus on how we could help them rather than what we couldn’t do. This meant much more secondary research when we were no longer able to contact our client in-country. This was another pivot, for the lack of communication was also a struggle. In the end, we created a marketing report that can be extremely useful to Nature Seekers. This marketing report will be crucial to Nature Seekers when coming out of quarantine. They still have to continue their mission, and they’ll have to work harder than ever in these difficult times to do that. It’s our hope our marketing report can provide ideas that can be implemented in order to help them.

Aside from the project, the cancellation of online classes provided a huge pivot that is going to help me in whatever career I choose someday. I’ve had to learn to communicate solely through technology. This meant constantly emailing professors and classmates along with scheduling meetings and zoom calls. Admittedly, I’ve become somewhat of a Zoom fiend now. While not ideal, it may change things for me in the future in how I choose to communicate with others. In the business world, it’s not always possible to do in-person meetings. In fact, I’ve realized in-person meetings are a luxury. I’ve also learned how valuable the time is you have in a meeting, and that you can’t waste any. There isn’t much small talk, it’s become more business, forcing me to become more efficient in my work and methods. These are all things I’ve learned now which I can apply as I move on from Pitt Business into the working world. People who can communicate well despite situations are very valuable and I believe I’ve learned this skill throughout this process.

Circling back to the project, the relationship Pitt had with Amizade and our client in Trinidad was crucial in order to maintain communication. We struggled a lot to communicate with our client in the end. This wasn’t a testimony to a poor relationship; it was out of our hands and theirs. We did keep in touch with Amizade who had tried their best to find someone from Nature Seekers to contact us. Everyone was trying their best. They had many things to worry about though, and as unfortunate as it was, they were unable to answer some of our questions. This happens in life though, and we must adjust to our client’s situation. While we couldn’t gather some vital information, I believe we still provided quality work to the organization that they could use to market their brand Turtle Warriors, or possibly just themselves in the midst of this pandemic. In the end though, what matters is that we kept our contract and promise to deliver them work. This is a testimony to our commitment to help our clients despite hardships and inconveniences. I’m proud of what we were able to do given such uncertain circumstances.

Moving forward, I plan to pitch this interview as a learning experience. As mentioned before, I’ve become much more adaptable, versatile in my use of technology and even just empathetic. The skills I built from this were from such a situation so strange I felt as though I was in a movie. But I handled it well and even flourished in making the most out of an unfortunate situation. This positivity showed through in my work for all my classes. It also took focus and determination to continue schoolwork when I wasn’t in a classroom or surrounded by my peers. It would be easy to lose motivation, but I had to find it within myself to continue.

 More specifically, will be using this project as a case to one of my strengths: adaptability. The world is fragile, and things can change in the blink of an eye. In whatever profession, you need to be able to take things and go. I can imagine things will only get faster as we progress into the future. This just means I’ll have to pivot, as much as I dislike admitting it. We cannot know what’s to come, but we can make ourselves as flexible as can be in order to prepare and react to when something occurs. I hope to be able to convey this key skill to an employer one day, who finds it valuable enough to choose me for a position.

            In wrapping up my last blog, some advice I’d give to future groups is:

Your client comes first.

This project isn’t about you, while you may be facing hardships, it’s about providing your client with the best work you can to provide them a successful future. We are lucky to be in this position at this University. Our clients are fighting many obstacles in their countries, from lack of funding, civil unrest, whatever it may be, they are facing things that we will most likely never have to worry about. Our trip to Trinidad got cancelled and I was crushed. But who was I to be selfish when our client Nature Seekers had a real possibility of losing their organization if the government didn’t help fund them and people stopped donating? So, whatever it may be, you must think of them first and then you. These minor inconveniences such as poor connection in video chats and not enough information are things you have to get over for the sake of them. You must be empathetic and have a passion to truly want to help them. It’s not just the contract that holds these two organizations together, its Pitt’s passion to help a non-profit in a far-off place spread their mission of ecotourism in hopes to make their lives and even the world a better place. Therefore, before you complain about the work. Know that what you do makes a difference.