A Moment with Margie Norman: Interview, April 2020

Vee Kalkunte

It is, as Margie Norman, says, “unprecedented times.”

After all, spring was a time of possibilities, for many of us. We had expectations when we came into spring. Expectations about our classes, our education, our work – and what work we could secure in the summers. Of course, we aren’t particularly surprised by changes. Maybe we don’t like our majors. Maybe we discover a new passion. Maybe we get some good suggestions from professors and alumni. These are par for the course – impactful, definitely, but routine.

A global pandemic, however, was not.

It’s shaken up our plans, whether they be for summer jobs and internships or career starts and gap years. Times are different. Timelines are different. While freshmen and sophomores have time to catch up, juniors may find internship programs sparse or even cancelled. Seniors have another issue entirely. In this economy, seniors will need to “devote much more time into their job searches,” Margie explains.

There are some resources for searching, of course. #HiringNow is a tag on Linkedin with a myriad of job postings, tips for improvement, and encouragement. Who’s Still Hiring is a regularly updated job post for a variety of jobs within the tech industry as a whole. And of course, jobs and internships are still being updated on Handshake. Opportunities are still there, but they’re harder to get now.

So, a different approach may be warranted. Margie Norman suggests that, “networking with alumni is a strategic way of finding where the jobs are these days.” Engaging with alumni extends beyond in person and on campus – Austin College recently started alumni groups on both Facebook and Linkedin, with a warm community already in place and ready to work together and combat this crisis. 

It’s a tough time. But there are starting points, at the very least.

But even beyond our economic considerations, Margie believes that social distancing will change the way we think of ourselves, and the way we interact with the world. Perhaps “we won’t take so many things for granted as we have in the past,” or perhaps we’ll find ourselves “making sure to stay in touch with friends and family consistently,” for all our sakes. To Margie, these are the potential “positive effects of a very trying time in our lives.”

“We all live so unconsciously day to day and now,” Margie notices. And it’s true – it’s so easy to forget what time it is, what day it is, and what our routines even were before all of this. It’s tempting to just sit down and binge a season of a TV show, or just sleep in a few extra hours. Quarantine is a liminal space – we’re all just waiting here to get out. 

But we don’t know how long we’re going to be here. There’re many indications that, at the very least, some social distancing guidelines will still be in place well into the summer.

We’ve gotta do just more than unconscious living, it’s time to make the most of it. It’s time to purposefully create our very own qua-routines. It’s time to “plan and concentrate on what we want/need to accomplish daily,” no matter how small or large that is, Margie explains, in order to draw “attention to what truly matters and all that gives meaning to our lives during this time.” 

When we focus on making the best of things and focus on getting through this together, Margie hopes that “our relationships with our friends, our family members, and our co-workers will only grow stronger.”