This week marked the beginning of the end for the ESTEEM Class of 2020. With just one semester left before graduation, many students are taking this time to reflect on how far they’ve come since June 2019, while others are looking forward at what still has to be done. Fortunately for those who have been feeling anxious at the prospect of finishing their capstone project in just four short months, ESTEEM alum Whitney Bouey (Class of 2019) and Adrian Rodriguez (Class of 2018) returned for a Capstone Experience Seminar where they shared advice on how to survive, and thrive, in the spring semester.
The seminar, held in the afternoon on Thursday the 16th, featured Bouey and Rodriquez’s insights on how the current students could optimize their next four months in ESTEEM while delivering high caliber work and true value to their capstone project client. Both former students and current capstone mentors, the pair gave a well-rounded set of remarks as well as open, honest answers to the student’s many questions.
The first question centered around how each student should focus their energy in the final months of ESTEEM while juggling capstone projects, classes, a job search, and more. Bouey shared that when thinking of the big picture, “it’s helpful to define what success looks like in each of the areas of your life. Once you define what success looks like, then you can start prioritizing your time.” Continuing on the trend of time management and optimization, Rodriguez added, “When you set something on the Google calendar, do it. And then when you’re gonna go hang out, put that on your calendar too. Stay accountable and plan ahead.”
Following this topic of conversation, another student asked for advice on how to choose which opportunities they should get involved in and which they should turn down. Bouey commented that this is a skill which took a lot of practice to develop. Now, her method involves taking the time to evaluate how much time and energy a new opportunity will actually take away, and whether you have that amount to spare. Coming from another perspective, Rodriguez got brutally honest (and relatable) on a lesson learned in this arena: “The way I got through ESTEEM was saying yes to everything and letting everyone down. Everything eventually got done, but now I think I have a better handle on what I can and can’t do. It was a learning opportunity.”
After a continued discussion on capstone expectations, productivity, and time management, a final question was raised for Rodriguez, who opted to work in South Bend post-graduation. With a number of students interested in following this path, Rodriguez was asked if he’d learned anything he wished he knew before since staying in the South Bend/ND ecosystem after graduation. His response spoke volumes to the innovation hub this area is becoming: “I love it here. The entrepreneurial experience is growing here every day in South Bend and Notre Dame. If there is an entrepreneurial venture you don’t want to keep in the confines of the IDEA center, look around because there is probably somebody doing it. There’s a lot going on here and it keeps growing.”