Ian Lightfoot is a recent graduate of San Francisco State University who was on his way to grad school when his plans for funding the move to Columbia was wrenched by Coronavirus. (spoiler alert!), He’s going anyway. Interview by Kristina Gardner
Before it all happened, I was planning on working at San Francisco State over the summer and earning some money and working on being able to fund grad school in the fall.
I was not able to work over the summer, but I am able to go to grad school in the fall. I will be attending Columbia University in New York City.
Kristina Gardner (KG):Thank you so much for interviewing with me today. I’m going to ask you a couple of questions about graduation, how COVID has affected your career plans, both pre and post, and what you are doing now during the pandemic as a recent graduate.
Ian Lightfoot (IA): I graduated from San Francisco State University.
KG: What did you graduate with and what were your plans these last four years that you were working towards as a career goal?
IA: Okay. So I graduated with a bachelor’s in statistics and a minor in human sexuality. I was working toward going and completing my own research and working on data analysis for the LGBT community and getting a step in that door so that I can focus my energy toward them.
KG: Were you planning to go to grad school after graduation? Were you planning to just go out and work? What were your plans after graduation pre-pandemic?
IA: Before it all happened, I was planning on working at San Francisco State over the summer and earning some money and working on being able to fund grad school, then going to grad school in the fall.
I was not able to work over the summer, but I am able to go to grad school in the fall. I will be attending Columbia University in New York City. I’m studying quantitative methods and social sciences.
KG: How is COVID now affecting your grad school path? Will you be moving to New York? Will your classes be online? Is the tuition going to remain the same? How is all of this going to be affecting now your next academic journey?
IA: For the most part, the going to grad school, hasn’t changed a lot. There’s a lot of new regulations health wise. So like we have to wear masks in class and things like that. And then we also have all of our classes are hybrid. We’ll be meeting in person for some portion of them and then online for other portions.
Something else that’s changed a lot is that the campus itself is very closed. So the gym’s closed, there’s not campus events or student life as much, but they are still charging tuition. And that is very difficult, especially because, like I mentioned previously, I wasn’t able to get the funding that I was hoping for this summer because of everything shutting down.
And so now, um, I have to pay full tuition. I don’t have the same funds that I was expecting to have. I did definitely think about it more and I kind of debated whether or not I wanted to go. I second guessed a lot, but I did end up deciding since this university has decided to have some in person portions that it was worth my time to move over there because I’m hoping that I can still make connections in the workforce and get some sort of internship or work going over there. And that way, that can kind of lead me past my master’s degree.
KG: Awesome. So one last question for you when you do go to Columbia and you begin applying for internships, how will you do that process? Will you look online? Will you ask your network? Will you go through the school? What do you think you feel most comfortable with in COVID era with applying for internships?
IA: I think it’s definitely going to be more difficult because it’s not as easy to kind of walk up to a place and apply. It’s not as easy to see someone in person, but I am hoping to use the faculty at Columbia. I know they have a lot of resources around the city. Then also online places like Indeed that have job listings and I can search and sift through those. So, yeah, that’s my plan.
Thank you so much and congratulations on graduating and best of luck to you.