Adjusting to a virtual work environment

Alysha H, S20 SAF Communications & Media AssociateThis summer I completed my first and only co-op term with the University of Waterloo’s School of Accounting and Finance. For this work term, I worked as the SAF’s communications & media associate. My co-op term, like most students this summer, was virtual and included many challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic. I had to move back home from Waterloo, finish my winter study term online, continue my spring term course online, and then sadly, had to complete my spring co-op work term virtually.

Moving back home was a massive change for me considering I had been independent and living in Waterloo for the last three years. It was a new challenge to be working and studying at home alongside my parents and younger sister. Both my parents were also mandated to work from home, so finding space – mentally and physically – to get work done was extremely difficult. I do count myself as being very lucky because some students actually lost their internships and co-op placements due to COVID-19.

When the pandemic hit, students like me were just completing their winter terms. This was stressful for a number of reasons:

  1. We had no idea what was going to happen with our courses,
  2. We had no idea what was going on with our exams, and
  3. We did not know if we were ever going to be able to return to campus safely.

I received approval from my spring work term manager to allow me to take a French course online to finish my language requirements for my program. I found that with a work from home situation for my co-op work term, it made completing my online course easier to manage. Overall, I felt that the online course did not interfere with the responsibilities I had for my co-op work term and am happy that I ended up doing very well in the course.

There were many processes and strategies that I learned to help make working from home easier. I created a routine for myself, added alarms to make sure I would take breaks, and get back to work and I always made sure I was asleep by eleven-thirty every night. These three strategies really helped me stay organized and manage my time to the best of my ability. This co-op term was not exactly what I expected but it turned out to be the best part of my summer!

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