Like many other students, I was not prepared for my entire life to become virtual in March 2020. As we approach over a year of everything being virtual, I am reflecting on what I’ve learned. While it has not been easy, there are a few things we can do to improve our virtual world.
The first virtual experience I had to deal with was school. After half a semester in-person, suddenly not seeing any of my classmates and professors felt strange. The biggest struggle was finding motivation. When the world felt like it was ending, how were students expected to focus on class? Not to mention, the sudden lack of structure that most students had come to rely on. While people assume we’ve gotten the hang of the way the world is, I think a lot of us continue to struggle. The pandemic is still putting people in danger, there is turmoil within the United States, and there is still a lot of uncertainty as things reopen.
However, the most helpful piece of advice I can offer applies to most things in life. I prefer to simply take things day by day and task by task. Human beings are not designed to worry about every possible problem, but sometimes it feels unavoidable. During the day, I try to focus on a couple assignments, and then, when I complete those, I can check my phone or the news again. In addition, working on one thing at a time helps create structure. I believe that everyone, not just students, needs some kind of structure in order to be productive.
The next virtual experience I dealt with was new to me in every way. I was able to land my first internship this semester. In order to get the internship, I had to do a virtual interview. I had done a few in-person interviews before, but a virtual interview is so different. I’ve realized that the biggest problem with virtual interviews is the awkward silence that we all sometimes experience on Zoom. In order to fix this, I used a technique that is advised in all interviews: preparing questions. In past interviews, I had thought of questions but didn’t actually write them down anywhere. So, when I got nervous during the interview, all thoughts went out of my head and I suddenly had no questions to ask. However, for my virtual interview, I wrote my questions in a notebook that I had next to my computer. With the questions written down, no matter how nervous I was, I sounded prepared to the interviewer.
Once I was through the virtual interview, I had to figure out the virtual internship. While I recently started my internship, I’m getting the hang of it. In fact, I don’t think I can even imagine what having an in-person internship would look like. The biggest worry I had was not having a sense of connection with the other interns and the organization. However, the best thing my internship does is set aside time in our Zoom meetings for us all to talk on a personal level. With a virtual world being so isolating, I think it is important that we make time to be social online.
With all that being said, I am very optimistic that the end is in sight. However, we might as well make the best of our virtual world while it’s still here. This past year has been difficult for everyone in different ways. For students, navigating online classes and internships were completely new experiences. However, I know that students are extremely capable of adapting to whatever is thrown their way and it has been great to learn alongside everyone this year.
Chloe Maher is a senior public relations major at Temple University in Philadelphia, PA. She currently serves as the junior director of community service in her school’s Chapter of PRSSA. She is the public relations intern for Campowerment this semester.