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An Interview with Peter Mankiewich '20

By: Kristin Van Ormer

How did your IC experience prepare you for what you are currently doing? How did it inspire you to move in this direction? 

My time at Ithaca College prepared me for pursuing graduate school through practical and real-world experiences that directly contributed to my acceptance to graduate school, and through incredible mentorship from faculty across campus. Traveling to conferences and networking, completing summer internships is real work environments, and leading exciting and relevant project on campus allowed me to embark on a cutting-edge business analytics program after graduation. In addition, I’ve found that hard skills that I learned at IC, in the areas of programming and business, are directly applicable to my graduate program, and have given me a leg up, allowing me to go even further with the material. 

Did you receive any specific advice, recommendations or contacts from IC that helped you? 

It is hard to summarize the valuable contacts that I gained at Ithaca College in just one paragraph. After my freshman year, I was luck enough to become a teaching assistant for an introductory web design class. Through this experience, I gained invaluable mentorship through Roy Westwater, the professor who taught the class in the computer science department. I worked on various projects for credits with him, and he also advised me on graduate programs. The Business School also provided me incredible mentorship, and during these uncertain times, they gave me the confidence that graduate school was the path for me. Dean Reid provided me mentorship throughout my four years at Ithaca College, beyond what I could have ever imagined. He connected me with internship opportunities, supported clubs that I was involved with, and advised my on my day-to-day life at Ithaca College. 

Looking back over your entire IC experience, what do you think was the single most valuable aspect of your time there? 

While the knowledge and experience that I gained in class was invaluable, the most important part of the experience were the people. As a student leader of two on-campus clubs, I had the opportunity to play a key role planning and marketing large on campus-events and working directly with professors outside of the classroom to enhance the student experience for others. By the end of most classes, the professor had become my friend. I can’t count the number of times that professors offered to come speak during one of my club meetings, work on a project with them, or advise me in my career. 

How did the pandemic influence your decisions after graduation? 

No matter who you are or where you come from, you are not immune to the uncertainty and struggles that were brought with the pandemic; this was an event that no one could have imagined would last well over a year. Once Ithaca College went remote, there were many questions surrounding my upcoming graduate school experience, ranging from my living accommodations to uncertainty as to whether the program would even start on time. Given the pandemic, I felt that graduate school was a good path, and even though circumstances are still far from “normal”, I have met incredible new people from all over the world and gained valuable new skills that I could never have dreamed of, especially during a pandemic. 

In what ways do you think your current experiences have been shaped by the pandemic? In what ways might it change things going forward?   

It would be an understatement to say that my graduate school experience has been very different as a result of the pandemic. In-person class time has been severely limited as a result of the pandemic, and the inability to socialize indoors makes meeting other students a challenge. However, even with the challenges, I have found many ways to meet other students through outdoor get-togethers. Remote instruction is new for all, and takes time to get used to, but some of the benefits soon become clear. I feel that in the future, some of the aspects of remote instruction will remain, even as students return to class. Without the use of Zoom and other tools, students in other countries who were not able to make it to Boston would have never been able to participate in the program. While many felt isolated during the pandemic, in some ways the remote instruction brought people from all over the world together within my program at Boston University. 

What have you learned from the experience of graduating college during a pandemic? Have there been positives as well as negatives? 

One of the biggest lessons I have learned as a result of attending graduate school during a pandemic is adaptability. It is easy to take your daily lifestyle for granted, but when a pandemic hits, it makes you appreciate the basics. While graduating college and attending graduate school during a pandemic is far from ideal, it has taught me that sometime life experiences don’t always turn out exactly how you imagined, and that is okay. It is safe to say that I will never forget my unique graduate school experience. I will also never forget the many times I spent going on a picnic in the park with other students, all of whom were going through the same experiences, and facing similar challenges. Since many of my fellow peers will be working close to me in Boston after graduation, I’m sure that this unprecedented experience will continue to bring us together into the future.