Life as a Virtual Admissions Summer Fellow

By Chris Meng ’23

 Dear Christopher,

 It is with great pleasure that we invite you to join the Office of Admissions at Pomona College as a Virtual Summer Fellow.

 All the way back in May, I accepted an offer to work with admissions this summer. I feel incredibly fortunate that I was able to find a paid position that I was excited about pursuing. I literally didn’t know what I was getting myself into. While the Summer Fellow position is not new, the “virtual” part really put an unknown twist into the internship. Summer is usually the peak visiting season for the admissions office, with hundreds of visitors coming each day for tours and info sessions. Normally, the Fellows give multiple tours each day as a significant part of their duties, but what would this position look like now that campus is closed to visitors?

While the role definitely had to evolve with the online format, collaboration with my fellow Fellows (see what I did there??) and interactions with prospective students and families remained the driving force behind the internship. I’m not going to lie — I was a bit skeptical at first. The first few weeks were akin to the Zoom lectures of the spring semester as we went through on-boarding and training about all things admissions. (I know all the insider secrets now… just kidding.)

series of text messages among fellowsSoon enough, we got into a flow with student programming and social media projects getting off the ground. Twice a week between the Fellows, we’d co-lead student Q&As with prospies from all around the world and hold one-on-one 15-minute appointments. I may or may not have gotten to meet a world record holder without realizing it… :’) Of course, the summer was not without its bumps in the road. There were Zoom webinars with no participants in attendance. Power outages and spotty WiFi never failed to hinder one of us from week to week. I wonder how many no-show appointments we had among the five of us? Regardless of the technological difficulties, the fact that human interaction was a part of my job ended up being one of the most sustaining parts of my summer.

The internship came with a surprising amount of flexibility to take initiative on our own projects. I’ve never seen a project through the full process from the birth of an idea to the publication of a final product — that was, until Sagehen Stories! I got to interview and record several students about their journeys to Pomona. It was incredibly re-energizing to chat about Pomona again and just listen to people’s stories and experiences. I got to share these interviews on Instagram for prospies to hear more about Pomona and what kind of student goes there.

text messages

Being a Summer Fellow empowered me to take initiative and become more confident in my communication skills. Running webinars and Q&As every week helped me let go of my sometimes obsessive perfectionism, as I no longer had the time to plan every word that I wanted to say. Cris, one of my supervisors, constantly encouraged us to “manage up,” a foreign concept for someone who is usually afraid to step on other people’s toes. We got to meet and work with admissions staff from around the office, these people already navigating the “scary” real world. However, the Pomona admissions team is the furthest thing from scary; it is honestly one of the most fun and welcoming environments that I have worked in. Even though I originally did not plan to work for admissions this summer, I’m going to look back at my time as a Summer Fellow very fondly. Ariana, sorry to break it to you, but we all know who the real queen of game time is. 😉

screen grab of zoom with all fellows