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Virtual Work Proves Valuable, Says SNC Senior

When the coronavirus hit, Erika Ditzman ’21 had to switch all three of her campus jobs to a virtual environment. But the experience proved to be a fruitful one. Here, Ditzman shares her experience.

Hi. My name is Erika Ditzman. I am a senior and student employee at St. Norbert College. I study English, communication and graphic design. I am currently employed as co-editor-in-chief of the St. Norbert Times, as digital archives assistant in the Mulva Library and as a publications associate in the college’s office of communications. When the college went virtual on March 16, 2020, I had the rare opportunity to work remotely in all three of these occupations. Not only was I able to continue my normal tasks with each, but I was provided additional opportunities that significantly enhanced my résumé and led to a career with Gannett, a mass media company.

The St. Norbert Times, which I co-edit, is the student newspaper at St. Norbert College. While previously distributed across campus in print, the St. Norbert Times was forced to release the last issue of the 2019-20 academic year online due to the pandemic. Since then, the Times has transitioned to a completely online paper. This change allowed me to enhance my communication skills as I worked to increase its digital presence using platforms such as Facebook, WordPress and the SNC Digital Commons. Most notably, though, our entire newspaper staff was able to attend the Associated Collegiate Press’ annual national convention, held virtually this year. We all attended from the safety of our own homes, along with other students and professionals from across the world. During the conference, I was able to reflect on not only editing the Times, but on graphic design, which I hope to pursue with further schooling after graduation.

As digital archives assistant in the Mulva Library, I work frequently with the SNC Digital Commons. The Digital Commons houses the St. Norbert Times archive, a project I devised during my sophomore year and was able to pursue through the pandemic. My intention with this project is to preserve and promote the Times, making St. Norbert’s history available to the world. I am slowly but steadily digitizing all 92 years of the Times while in seclusion, and am up to 2017. We have had 694 downloads in the past year, and a total of 740 downloads overall, from locations as far away as the Philippines and Singapore.

Finally, when the college went virtual last March, I was given the rare opportunity to work my internship in the office of communications from home. I continued this position through the summer, proving that learning and working virtually can be a successful practice. Despite being physically apart, the bond between office associates has never been stronger. Working virtually, I was able to attend daily meetings, getting to know everyone and staying up to date with the goings-on throughout the office. The college also gave me the opportunity to virtually attend the Catholic Media Conference, my first professional conference. I blogged about my experience through multiple webinars, reflecting on what I had learned from each session and how I could apply my new knowledge.

Little did I know that my virtual experiences, such as writing obituaries in the office of communications, would land me a part-time job as an obituary representative for Gannett. Gannett is a mass media company and the largest newspaper publisher in the United States. I began the position virtually over the summer and have continued working nights throughout the school year. I am excited to pursue this career further after graduation. It was my experiences working virtually, I believe, that made me more of a commodity when I was being considered for the position with Gannett.

Nov. 17, 2020