Working from Home: Tips and Observations from College Students and Recent Grads
What it meant to work and learn from home didn’t register with me until my first time logging onto a Zoom call for my Business Law class at Drexel University. I thought to myself, “This won’t last long.” Little did I know this would soon become my daily routine.
From March through June of 2020, my classes were online. I was actively applying for jobs to fulfill my University’s Co-Op requirement. A lot of companies were on a hiring freeze or had canceled their summer internship programs. However, these circumstances did not stop me from applying to Furia Rubel Communications.
In just a few short weeks, I was interviewed and hired. I was thrilled. Not only was I able to secure a co-op job during a pandemic, I would be working at a well-known marketing and public relations agency with a great team of industry innovators.
My first official day was at the end of June 2020. I joined the team as a full-time public relations associate. The firm’s leadership worked with me to determine what skills I could bring to the table as well as what I needed to learn. For them, this was their first virtual internship as well – so we all had a bit of a learning curve. I have been given a variety of assignments from writing press releases and blogs to researching the media and working on podcasts.
I have enjoyed my time with the agency and continue to learn every day. Some of my favorite tasks are related to the agency’s podcast, On Record PR. I create audiograms that are used to promote the episodes on social media, editing transcripts, and designing graphics. I participate in team recordings and listen to all of the episodes, all of which contribute to my professional development.
Furia Rubel is a great place to work. Gina Rubel, the founder, CEO and also a Drexel Alumna, wants to see every team member thrive. She is always here for me if I need help or mentoring. My supervisor Jennifer Simpson Carr has become my work mom. I ask a lot of questions, but she reassures me that every question matters and is an opportunity to learn. These are just a few of the many things I love, especially the team which has become like family.
As my time progressed, I wondered how my friends were handling working and learning from home. I asked several friends to share their experiences and perspectives.
The collective tips and takeaways include those that I have learned along with feedback from: .
- Eathyn Edwards, a recent graduate from Howard University with a B.B.A in Management Information Systems, who started as a technology consultant at PricewaterhouseCoopers
- Melanie Graves, a senior at Wellesley College. She is pursuing a B.A. in Economics and Africana Studies. She recently finished her virtual internship with Bank of America.
- Jordan Ruffin, a junior attending Morehouse College, pursuing a Business Administration degree, focusing on Marketing. His summer internship took place at Acorn Capital Partners.
Tips for working from home
- Make sure your computer and devices are fully charged.
- Get plenty of rest the night before so you’re not tired.
- Be wary of the dress code. For example, if you are required to wear business casual, make sure that you are dressed appropriately even though you are home. If you are only wearing a casual business top, make sure they cannot see your bottoms.
- If you will be on camera, good lighting is essential, also make sure that your background is not distracting.
- Ask questions when you do not understand something. It shows you are not afraid to ask for help.
- Remember that first impressions over the phone or via webcam are important.
- Always do your best to outline conversation points and what you hope to achieve in meetings, especially for one-on-one conversations.
- Hold yourself accountable and make schedules so that you do not leave out important items or tasks.
What were the things you enjoyed?
- The ability to connect with executives, employees, and possible career mentors.
- Working from my own space and being able to customize my working environment to best suit me and my needs.
- Being able to work out and find time to relax and unwind.
- Spending less money and time on the commute.
- Having time to discover other interests.
- Having Zoom meetings to check in on one another.
- Team bonding activities.
- Being able to openly talk with my manager and coworkers.
What would you change if you could?
- I wish that my start date wouldn’t have been moved back so I could start earning money earlier.
- I wish I would’ve ordered a desk earlier and a bigger workspace, so I did not feel clustered.
- It’s hard to tell because this was the first experience for everyone. I firmly believe that my program managers did the best that they could do to make the experience feel as authentic as possible.
- Creating more space between my family and me so that I could focus as if I were in the office during the workday.
- Being better at managing my time at home. I don’t want to get distracted and not complete a task because of it.
How have you adjusted?
“The biggest adjustment has been adapting to work-life and realizing that you are no longer a student. Since we will now be working for the next several years, you have to find time to have fun and unwind. It is somewhat scary now that we have entered the workforce, but it is important to stay relaxed and not overwhelmed. Overall, the adjustment has been somewhat uncomfortable, but working from home has made it easier.” Eathyn Edwards
“While my internship has now concluded, I think that in many ways it has now prepared me for the virtual semester I am about to have. Working from home and learning from home will require many of the same disciplines around carving out time, staying organized, and creating a schedule that works to keep me as well-rounded. It’s not easy being on the computer and connecting with people all day long, so I need to continue pushing myself to figure out what works and build upon my internship experience.” Melanie Graves
“I think my biggest adjustment for me this year was understanding that even though we are online, time still moves on. At the beginning of the pandemic, all of us wanted to go back to the old days when we should’ve realized earlier that we need to be focused on the future and how to set ourselves up so that when this pandemic does end, we can be in the best position for success.” Jordan Ruffin
“I have adjusted a lot during my time working from home, especially being strictly remote. My time management skills are much better, and my communication with emails and the Slack messages have improved since that’s all we can use besides Zoom for video conferencing. I am someone who needs human interaction, but a lot can and has been accomplished with the use of technology. As long as you are determined and self-driven, then everything else will fall into place. I will continue to grow and learn and I am looking forward to it all.” Jayla Johnson
I’m not sure where I see myself in one year when it comes to my career choice, but if it happens to be remote and online, I know I can handle it. My team at Furia Rubel Communications has been such a great help and continues to help me along this new journey.
Adding new employees especially during these times can be difficult at first, but luckily Furia Rubel recently published Getting On Board: New Employee Communications During COVID. It shares best practices for companies that are adding new employees. Within the blog post you can read how to effectively communicate as a team, how to manage online training calls and more best practices.
Working from home, has had its ups and downs for everyone but with time, patience, and a planner we have all made it and will continue to make it through.
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