CEC in the Hill: Signing Off? Not Just Yet.

On Wednesday, September 29th, Parker Werns, (then) Honors College housing manager and (current) Assistant Director of Student Engagement sent out a newsletter which discussed a position opening for the CEC S.T.E.A.M. Ambassador. As soon as I read the position description, I knew the position was the perfect match for me, and within hours I had sent my résumé and cover letter to Stacie Dow, the Program Manager of Student & Faculty Engagement. During the next 48 hours, she and I had set up an interview date, and by the following week I’d already received my official letter of employment from the Honors College.

 Congratulations! The Honors College is pleased to inform you that you have been chosen to receive the Honors College STEAM Ambassador Internship Award for Fall 2021. Your official internship will run Monday, October 11, 2021 through Friday, December 10, 2021. 

STEAM Ambassador Internship Award Letter

Well, after two months of hard work since I received that letter, my time at the CEC as the Honors College STEAM Ambassador has officially come to a close. Yet, the connection I made with the Hill District community engagement center is still strong. After talking with the CEC, I have decided to continue my role as an instructor for the Bridges to IT program—an IT course for high school seniors which helps them get jobs in the field after completion—and help in various other capacities in a volunteer role. Although the title of S.T.E.A.M. Ambassador is no more, my dedication and efforts to help the community will only continue to grow and thrive.

Some things I’ve learned along the way

My internship at the CEC has been one of the most rewarding and motivational experiences I’ve had since coming to Pittsburgh. I connected with community members, youth-students, Pitt students, and faculty, all of whom have supported my growth as a person, both directly and indirectly. From this experience:

I’ve learned to be more creative. Much of my job at the CEC has been developing new STEAM programs which obviously entails a lot of creativity as is with whenever you are creating something new. But beyond that, I was faced with many problems with no simple solution. No path laid out for me. This meant that a lot of what I required some cleverness and creativity. Many times, with no set way of doing things, the way I did it is the way it was done.

I’ve learned to be a better communicator. Talking to everyone who comes in through the door; writing emails to my colleagues; Participating in Zoom meetings; Giving speech to community members. Good communication was not just an added benefit, but essential at my work.

I’ve learned how to take direction, criticism, and compliments. Especially coming out of 2 years of virtual environment, these are three things I wasn’t so great at taking, but now I feel as though I can apply that in many different situations. And with that, I’ve also learned to be open-minded, to value other people’s opinions and to consider other ideas along with mine, to end up with a great final result.

I learned tangible skills as well. I’ve learned to use various tools to design graphics and flyers. I learned to create and give better, more engaging presentations. I learned how to connect with younger students, how to teach them, and keep them engaged. I’ve become a better writer as well.

And most importantly, I’ve learned how to deal with uncertainties. Like with any new organization, the CEC often had many things going on simultaneously, and circumstances that we cannot for see. For example, one of the classes had to be made asynchronous because many of the students could not attend a Saturday class due to other obligations. So, I learned to be more flexible and adaptive—to be on my toes, always wondering what could fail and trying to prevent it.

So, I am leaving the CEC today—although not really, I’ll still be around—with of wealth of learning and the new connections formed that I will always treasure. Working at the CEC has been a fantastic learning experience, and I am thankful for the skills I’ve acquired and hope to use and improve them in my future endeavors. I feel as if just my mere presence at the CEC has made me a more complete and well-rounded person. Through this experience, I re-solidified my dedication and commitment to engaging and giving back to the community, especially at a time when it was so easy to be engulfed and focus solely on academic and professional life and its stressors.

One Comment Add yours

  1. staciedow says:

    Shinwoo, it’s been great seeing how much work you’ve accomplished in just two months! Thanks for such a thoughtful reflection – we hope to see you around in other capacities – both at the CEC and in the Honors College. (:

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