After multiple semesters of remote learning, this school year marked the return to in-person classes. Before the spring semester began, I had spent an equal amount of time taking classes in person as I had taking classes remotely. Returning to campus this spring required as much of an adjustment as the initial switch to remote learning had required. Remote learning began in my first school semester of my sophomore year. At this point, I only knew a handful of people from my classes in freshman year, but many were not from my major. While learning remotely, I would recognize names but not have any faces to match to the names. When in-person classes began this year, I realized how few people I could recognize in my major-specific courses.
Returning to in-person classes this year was reminiscent of my first semester in my freshman year because I had to continue introducing myself to new people. This allowed me to grow more comfortable in meeting new people, which is a skill that will be beneficial once I graduate and enter the workforce. Improving my interpersonal skills was something that I did not expect when returning to campus this spring, but it was something that was needed after working remotely for almost two years. The COVID-19 pandemic has taught, and is still teaching, me how to be resilient and adaptive to the situations I find myself in.
Interpersonal skills require constant effort to retain them. Even though I am an introvert, my family is great at pushing me to interact with new people so that I have opportunities to develop these skills. During my co-op, I am also going to make more of an effort to talk to people outside of the engineering department. Beyond the benefits this will give me in my work, this will also allow me to meet more people and learn about new perspectives. I have always believed that understanding different perspectives and backgrounds is important, and this year I am going to make more of an effort to put this into action. Different people have different priorities and can offer unique ideas because of this. If I make a more focused effort to step outside of my comfort zone and talk to new people, I truly believe that I will become a more understanding, compassionate person through my understanding of others. This is necessary because the world is a cooperative place — it is impossible for one person to do everything alone — and understanding others is the first step to working well with them.