VCU Center for Corporate Education

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Carrie Hawes began her career connecting employers to talent from major universities including Duke University, Virginia Commonwealth University and the University of Richmond. As the Associate Director of the Center for Corporate Education, she enjoys connecting professionals with the knowledge and skills they need to advance their careers. Carrie has an undergraduate degree in Communication Sciences and Disorders from James Madison University, as well as a Masters in Education from NC State University.

Think back to March. What were your initial reactions to the news of the pandemic?

We were running our first Mastering Management session on March 12th when the news started to swirl of the 2-week shut down. I packed up my laptop and a few things I thought I would need, including only one of my office plants. Little did we know we wouldn’t step back into the office for months.

Being on the job 10 weeks when we went virtual was a wild experience of learning a position and how to pivot it into a virtual environment. And now 7 months later I think we’ve done a wonderful job of embracing flexibility and pivoting with the times.

What has helped you cope along the way?

Professionally, having a team of creative and adaptive coworkers has been a life send. We all are balancing working from home, parenting in a pandemic, and some of us are adding virtual coach to our plates as well. Giving grace and having empathy has been such an important part of our success.

Personally, I am lucky to live near family who we formed a “quaranteam” with early on. Having that outlet is such a gift! I’ve also gotten really knowledgeable about Minecraft because of my 5 year old.

What do you miss about a traditional work environment?

Hallway conversations! Being able to just pop between offices and ask a question, share some funny stories, etc. is such a bonding experience. Gchat and Zoom just don’t compete.

I totally miss being downtown as well. The vibe of being in the middle of campus just can’t be replicated in my house in the suburbs.

What do you feel you have gained from a remote work environment?

Weirdly, I’ve gained time. While everything happens in one place (work, play, school, etc.) the lack of commute, day-care drop offs has opened more time for a morning walk, lunch with my kids, and mid-day trips to the playground if my schedule allows.

My daughter had turned 1 the month before things shut down. Having her home during this means I’ve seen her first steps, her vocabulary explosion, and other developmental steps that I would have given up to daycare.

How has your perception of online learning changed over the last year?

I have learned so much. I think before COVID, I had a concept of online learning and thinking “its not how I want to learn, just staring at videos seems awful”. But I’ve found that good online learning is thoughtful, interactive, and comprehensive. The flexibility of hybrid courses that lets you learn with others, then practice that knowledge in asynchronous way seems like the best of both worlds me. Being able to connect with learners across the country in our classes has been such a fun experience we never would have had in an in-person only environment.

What is the CCE doing right? What can the CCE do better?

We are really making sure our courses are interactive and taught by subject matter experts. We don’t used canned, prerecorded videos. Every class is live, with a top-notch facilitator looking to connect and teach our students. Our facilitators really make the content understandable no matter your previous experience with the materials.

I’m looking forward to seeing us expand our programs to fit more essential skill needs of a virtual office environment. We are rolling out a Managing and Delegating in a Remote Environment in the Spring and I’m so excited to see the response!

What do you feel grateful for?

I know it’s sappy, but our team. I feel really lucky to have a supervisor/co-workers who get it. Who know what is like to have to juggle it all while still delivering top notch professional development opportunities.

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