My Week in ESTEEM: August 24 - 30, 2020

Author: Meg Gaytko

Meg Gaytko (ESTEEM '21)Meg Gaytko (ESTEEM '21)

This week was definitely a bit out of the ordinary for me, considering I couldn’t leave the house at all. One of my roommates tested positive for COVID-19 on August 19, so we’ve been fully quarantining since then. However, it was still a productive week filled with lots of learning!

I live with four other ESTEEM students, so there’s really never a dull moment around here, even during quarantine. Between grocery shopping via Target delivery, homework, and the UEFA Championship, our Sunday was restful and filled with a lot of preparation for the coming week.

I was right back into the swing of things on Monday, which started with my first team meeting for my new job! I was recently hired into a position at the IDEA Center, where I’ll be working as an Insights Analyst to help de-risk ideas as they move through the pipeline. I’ll be working with a Notre Dame senior and another ESTEEM student, and we’re led by a second-year MBA student. Our first meeting consisted mostly of getting to know each other and learning about what we’ll be doing in this position. I’m so excited about the work ahead!

Our Monday afternoon classes were Leadership and Entrepreneurial Immersion. In Leadership, we had a guest speaker who spoke about the various companies that she has founded, including one that offers coding courses to students under 18. She also spoke about the importance of pivoting, since your path will rarely go as planned and you need to be flexible in adaptation (prime example: pandemics!). In our Entrepreneurial Immersion course, we are working in teams to improve the tailgating experience at Notre Dame. My group is focusing on creating a product that can make the setting up and cleaning up processes easier. Monday’s class consisted of us sharing our brainstorming ideas with our team, and voting on which one we want to prototype. After a busy Monday, our evening was pretty quiet as we made dinner, watched a movie, and prepared for Tuesday.

Tuesday was even busier than Monday! It started out with my tech elective, Innovation in Cancer, which is taught by an ESTEEM alum. Today I had a presentation due on Multiple Myeloma, which I was working on with one of my roommates. We focused mostly on treatment options and new innovations to treat the cancer. The other topics presented on were Thyroid Cancer and Prostate Cancer.

After class, I had my weekly call with my capstone sponsor from Northwell Health / Feinstein Institutes for Medical Research. For my project, I am working on determining commercial opportunities for industry-sponsored clinical trials in oncology. This week, we talked about my Technology Review, which is the next deliverable that is due in a couple of weeks. For the Review, I will focus on the current state of clinical trials at Northwell and dive deeper into the problems that exist within those processes. I’ve loved my project so far and am excited to really get the ball rolling with in-depth research and interviews!

Tuesday afternoon’s classes were Technical and Business Presentations, and Technical Marketing. In Presentations, we learned about the Four Point Pitch: Problem, Solution, Marketing, and Business. In Technical Marketing, we started by discussing how we’re all staying positive during these difficult times, which was refreshing. We then dove deeper into the customer decision making process and buying habits. After class was over, we made tacos for Taco Tuesday, watched some episodes of Gossip Girl (a classic in our house), and got ready for the next day.

Wednesday started with another work meeting, this time beginning with a debrief on the book “Talking to Humans”, which focuses on qualitative research. We then went over tools and methodologies that we’ll be using this year. There’s definitely a lot to learn, but once I get over the initial learning curve, it should be smooth sailing (hopefully)!

We have Leadership again on Wednesday afternoons, and this time we talked about the importance of having a clear mission statement. If an organization lacks a specific-yet-concise mission, and if they don’t work to consistently achieve that mission, employees may be less motivated than they could be. 

After class, we had to go get another COVID test. We were tested last week and since one of my roommates tested positive, we were put onto a surveillance/monitoring program that will include one more test after today’s. If we’re all negative throughout these next two tests, we will be cleared from quarantine.

To wrap up the day, we went for a walk (with masks) around our neighborhood just to get some fresh air. We then watched a couple episodes of Entourage (another house favorite) and did some preparation for Thursday.

Thursday again began with my Innovation in Cancer class, during which the other half of the class presented on the specific cancers/treatments of their choice. The cancers we learned about today were Ovarian, Lung, Melanoma, and Leukemia. I had a break after class, so I worked on my capstone project for a bit. We then had a career workshop with Erik Oswald (our Graduate Career Consultant) to prepare for our upcoming virtual career fair. We went over how to prepare for the fair, how to excel during it, and how to stand out afterwards. I plan to take full advantage of these fairs, because I still don’t entirely know what I want to do after ESTEEM. Our final commitment of the day was Entrepreneurial Immersion (the class where we’re improving the tailgating experience). Today’s session involved creating storyboards and coming up with plans for prototyping, which will start next week. We’re starting to have a solid view of what we hope to design, which is exciting!

After class, I got the unfortunate notification that I tested positive for COVID-19, along with two of my other roommates. This means that our 10 day quarantine will now start back over from zero. I tried not to dwell on this, and got my mind off of things by FaceTiming my parents and dog. 

Friday was a busy day and began with an IDEA Center team meeting. We got to know the broader team that we’ll be working with, which was fun! This was followed by a Capstone class, during which we talked about the next deliverable: Market Analysis. Friday afternoon consisted of our first weekly workshop, this time on market sizing. We learned about two different methodologies (top-down and bottom-up) and worked through examples. This was helpful, since this is something that we’ll need to do for our Market Analyses.

After the workshop, I had a video call with an employee from Northwell/Feinstein. She walked me through the current state of affairs for clinical trials at Northwell, as well as some problem areas. It was really helpful to get some firsthand insight into what the experience is like and what shortcomings currently exist. I look forward to doing more of these interviews!

Unfortunately, I was now starting to get pretty severe COVID symptoms, so Friday night and the rest of the weekend consisted of copious amounts of sleep and Tylenol. However, despite ending the week this way, it was still very productive, and I look forward to taking on another week of learning!


Editor's note: For detailed, up-to-date information on the University's response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and further details about all the resources available to the Notre Dame students, faculty, and staff, please visit