Thinker. Partner. Intern. Mother.
Before the coronavirus pandemic struck, Viviana Pacheco’s life was already pulled in many directions as a fiancée, mother of two boys, full-time student at Cal Poly Pomona and part-time intern. Since statewide stay-at-home orders went into effect, Pacheco is taking multitasking to a higher level.
Along with her five classes, Pacheco, who is majoring in human resources, works a 20-hour-a-week internship with Employee and Organizational Development and Advancement (EODA), the office on campus that provides professional development, training and onboarding for faculty and staff. She also spends part of her day helping her 6-year-old son, Estevan, with his school work and keeping an eye on her 2-year-old son, Joel.
“It hasn’t been easy,” Pacheco said. “I thought I would find a sort of structure, but I haven’t. It’s day to day, especially with kids. I try to get in bed early, so I can get up early to do my school work, or I stay up later to do my school work when the kids are sleeping.”
Pacheco, who aims to graduate in the fall, said she takes most of her classes in the afternoon, which frees her up in the mornings for work and going over school lessons with her son. On a typical day, she makes breakfast for the children and hops online for a morning work meeting or to check emails while they eat. After they are finished with breakfast, she helps Estevan start on his school work, gets the younger one up to play by himself for a while and launches into her own work. She tries to keep her children on a consistent nap schedule, but sometimes there is a glitch in the plan, she said.
During a recent afternoon, she was 15 minutes into a timed, anxiety-inducing business statistics test that her professor had posted on Blackboard when her toddler woke up earlier than expected from his nap.
“When my son woke up, it only gave me more anxiety,” she said. “Honestly, I did not know what to do. He wanted attention, and at that time, I couldn’t give him the attention he needed. While I rushed to complete the test, a sense of comfort came when my oldest son, Estevan, tried to comfort Joel by letting him know that I was taking a test, that I was almost done, and that Joel should go and play with him in the room. It was the cutest thing.”
The interruption – along with other things on her plate – made her lose focus, so the test was a struggle, she said, but she hopes to make up ground on other tests to come.
Cal Poly Pomona transitioned to virtual instruction in mid-March, moving approximately 5,000 courses online. With the exception of essential workers, the majority of the university’s staff and faculty is working from home.
Two of Pacheco’s classes were already online before the switch. While some of her professors were new to the Zoom virtual meeting platform, the transition has been relatively smooth, Pacheco said, adding that faculty have provided additional remote office hours for students, extended deadlines for accommodation and exercised patience.
Pacheco also has kept up with a demanding internship with EODA that includes assisting with employment verifications, fielding questions from university employees and helping with the onboarding paperwork for new hires.
Amos Hammar, a learning management systems and reporting analyst for EODA, handles IT for the department. Hammar said he has been working with Pacheco since she was hired.
“She is like my right hand,” he said. “She is the one on the front line with the support when people are signing up for training.”
Hammar described Pacheco as diligent, great with people and a quick study. He trained her to run Sum Total, the application that tracks employee training, professional development opportunities and events, but she didn’t require much handholding.
“She is so fast and quick,” Hammar said. “I don’t even have to finish my sentence sometimes and she knows what I want. She takes initiative. If I could clone her, I would.”
Pacheco, who has worked in several areas under EODA, said the internship has shown her how varied a career field human resources can be.
“It’s just an amazing team,” she said. “I love working with everybody. They are so happy to help you learn and have been so supportive.”
Pacheco’s passion for helping people is one of the reasons she chose to study human resources. She initially earned an associate degree in human resources from Mt. SAC in June 2017. While in school and looking for a job, she noticed that most positions required a bachelor’s degree, so she transferred to Cal Poly Pomona in fall 2017.
Her internship also has helped shape her views on what human resources should be, she said.
“One of the things I have noticed with human resources is that a lot of it is customer service,” Pacheco said. “We’ve all had bad customer service. I am about making sure the employees are satisfied and providing them with the support they need. It’s not only about creating a safe environment, but also making sure they are informed.”
Through her coursework for her major, Pacheco said she has received an overview of all the various tasks and responsibilities that human resources involves, as well as learned about employment law, but it her internship with EODA that has provided the experiential learning component she needs to be career ready after graduation.
“I have learned new skills working with EODA,” she said. “I have helped support and manage CPP’s learning management system SumTotal, a system that all CSUs use to schedule trainings and events. I’ve shadowed EODA staff and have seen how a compensation analyst compiles her final decision on whether a position should be reclassified and how she supports her claim. My classes are like general information that we use to understand various policies and procedures. I fee like there is a lot to learn that I can only learn through hands-on experience.”