Meet Jacob Wieler
Jacob is a third-year Software Engineering Co-op student from Newmarket, Ontario, who is currently completing his third Co-op work term at the University of Guelph. As a Research Assistant to Dr. Daniel Gillis, Jacob and his team research student retention rates, and how they are impacted by policy changes related to COVID-19. Specifically, Jacob focuses on researching whether these policies disproportionately affect certain sub-populations, such as equity-seeking groups, using compartmental models to simulate the retention of students over time.
Have there been any changes to your current job because of COVID-19? If so, what changes?
“My job is completely remote, which is a first for me. Normally, meetings would take place in person, and I would have people around me to discuss issues with in-person, however, working remotely means all of this has changed. Other than that, the job is the same as it would be if it was not remote, and we are still able to make great progress on our projects.”
What are some strategies you've used to adapt to these changes?
“Some strategies I use to adapt to working from home are to keep a schedule for myself and follow it, and to dedicate a space for work. Keeping a schedule is important as no one is peering over my shoulder, so the onus is on me to keep working. A dedicated workspace is important as it allows for a different head space to allow for your mind to stay focused on work and keep distractions to a minimum.”
What have you learned while working in this time?
“I have learned so much while working this summer. I have learned to manage my time on my own, since supervision is very limited while working remotely. I have also learned plenty of technical skills related to my work as I had little prior experience related to the project at hand, so, it has been a great learning opportunity for me.”
What has been the biggest challenge you've faced while working during COVID-19?
“The biggest challenge I have faced is adapting to working from home and being my own supervisor in a sense. No one is watching over me, and I must keep distractions away as tempting as they may be. Despite the challenges, it is a great time for personal and professional growth.”
What are some projects you are currently working on within your position?
“I am working on making the compartmental model available online through an interactive website. I am building the site and implementing our software model to make it interactive to users so that the public can see the affects of COVID-19 on the retention rates of certain sub-populations.”
How do you think the experience of working during COVID-19 will benefit/impact you in your future co-op terms/career?
“I think working during COVID-19 will have a positive impact on future coop terms and my career for a couple of reasons. For one, this position has given me remote work experience, which I didn’t have previously, so, I am more prepared for a role in which that is expected. Secondly, working on an important project is rewarding and allows for plenty of personal, intellectual, and professional growth, meaning my skillset will be more diverse and suited for more positions down the road.”