Optimism in the Time of COVID.

Erica Vellanoweth
RISE Summer 2020
Published in
3 min readJun 25, 2020


Last year, during my internship with Microsoft, I was able to attend a talk hosted by Amber Rae, highlighting her book Choose Wonder Over Worry. She taught us that we were born with Wonder, and we only learn Worry over time. We hold back, criticize ourselves, and become paralyzed when we find ourselves in the midst of Worry.

It’s no secret that the world has plunged herself into Worry in the year 2020. It’s not every decade that we find ourselves in the midst of a worldwide pandemic accompanied by an economic recession — and the fear of the unknown pervades in all our minds.

A recent survey finds that 35% of students who have accepted their summer internships have had them been cancelled for this summer. Major companies such as Yelp, Glassdoor, StubHub, and United Airlines have been subject to foregoing their entire internship program for the summer of 2020. The platform has been yanked underneath the feet of so many individuals in this climate, with no end in sight.

However, at UCLA, they tell us we’re the school of “optimists”. As cheesy as we recognize it to be, I think it has challenged the four of us to view things from a different perspective. I see the tech industry, and its bedrock of developing solutions to odd problems, as a realm of opportunity, especially in this era. This is the perfect time to come together and lean on one another to find peace and purpose. Students who feel lost in their timeline, who were planning on getting that valuable experience this summer through their industry internship — we see you and we hear you. We want to help fuel you to choose Wonder despite everything against us — the strife, confusion, injustice, and most of all, the Worry.

In her book, Amber tells us to acquaint ourselves with Worry, Fear, and Anxiety as feelings that protect us and acknowledge an unusual shift in our lives. We’re encouraged to healthily process them, engage with them, and use them as fuel to propel us into a new direction, or adjust. Of course, not all upheavals are created equal, and there will be many moments in which we find ourselves mixing out many steps forward with many steps back.

Choosing Wonder over Worry means choosing compassion and patience, knowing that growing is a process and that taking more time to do so than others does not make anyone weak. And when you have settled into a state of Wonder, be there for others as they navigate their own feelings, so they too can share their gifts with the world.

Let’s get through this together. With each other, and for each other.

Looking for a way to make the most of a summer in quarantine? There’s still time to apply for RISE, a student led community created to give you the chance to gain an internship-like experience and learn new skills through project ideation and creation! Joining RISE will not only give you the chance to collaborate on a summer project but we will also be providing you access to a team of mentors, various industry panels, and social events!

Apply at tinyurl.com/rise-application for a fun, productive, and enriching summer!

Check out our website at risesummer2020.org for more information.

Already have summer plans but still want to get involved? Consider becoming a mentor for PMs, designers, or developers! Otherwise, we are also looking for people who would be interested in giving a tech talk in any fields relating to project development!

Become a mentor! tinyurl.com/rise-mentor-signup

Give a talk! tinyurl.com/rise-tech-talk

Originally published at https://www.linkedin.com.