Starting a Career During a Pandemic: Eric’s Story

By Eric Alanko

One of my favorite graduation gifts was a T-shirt with the Virginia Tech logo on the front and big text on the back that read “Best 3.75 years of My Life.” This was not because I graduated 7 weeks early, nor did I drop out, but rather because the COVID-19 pandemic took quite the toll on the last portion of my college career. Extracurricular activities were cancelled, classes were online, and I was unable to even spend time with some of my best friends.

Fortunately, what hampered the end of my college career did not do the same to my professional career. Summer Consultants was still busy with all sorts of work and still needed me – and several other engineers – to join the team.

The home office was much less busy than it was when I came for my interview, and it was not my favorite thing having to wear a mask so frequently. On more than one occasion, I was surprised by what people looked like when I saw them without a mask. However, these were minor annoyances to what seemed like a very good onboarding process. Several different engineers helped train us the first week of the job and plenty of people and resources were made available if we ever had a question.

As time went on, I moved from what was largely assisting on projects to really carrying portions of the design. This was helped by a diverse set of projects, varying in size, objective, and what the best solution was. Pandemic or not, I still learned to draft, psychometrics, loads analysis, coil selection, and several other staple skills in the MEP industry.