Working in the office for 3 months and suddenly shifting to working from home was an abrupt change. As the only design and marketing coordinator in the office, staying adaptable was key for this transition. Having relied on physical marketing materials such as posters and brochures, going virtual meant a heavier reliance on social media marketing. Although learning to manage multiple social media accounts was a great experience, I realized I want to try a different career path in the future. I learned the importance of branding for each individual social media channel as each had different target audiences and using Hootsuite to better manage the posts definitely helped.
One thing I learned was that I’m more passionate about working with video contents so I would like to explore this area more in the future. Being one of the few lucky students to remain working during the pandemic taught me that this is one of the jobs that will remain relevant in the future. Working in a university made me realize two things.
One, that it’s a stable job and two, as the only design and marketing coordinator in the office it involved a lot of learning in progress and multitasking. Although most of my work was already done through the computer even before remote work, working from home had some challenges that I didn’t think would be that important.
Here are some of the things I learned to stay resilient while working remotely.
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Working from home all day was a big lifestyle change. Since I did not have to commute to work anymore, I spent most of the day in front of my computer. As someone who is not very active from the beginning, fitting exercise into my daily routine was challenging. Eating healthy, exercising, getting a night of good sleep, and maintaining social connections (more Zoom!) is what I took for granted before but were now more important than ever. I reminded myself to take breaks and stretch and get some fresh air whether it means going for a walk outside or relaxing on the patio. Sitting in front of my desk all day also meant I had more back and neck pains as well as poor circulation. I stretched every hour, massaged my muscles and took more hot baths to help with the circulation and muscle pain. I adjusted my workstation so I would maintain proper sitting position without putting a strain on my neck, eyes, and wrist. It’s so important to stay adaptable during these times so that your motivation doesn’t plummet, your health doesn’t get worse, and you don’t feel like you’re stuck in a routine.
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When managing multiple projects and tasks, learning how to prioritize those tasks became an important skill for me. While working on major projects, I was also asked to take on newer tasks that needed to be done immediately, so staying flexible with workload was key! I used the Calendar function on Outlook to block some time in my calendar for these tasks which was helpful in time management. You might find yourself re-juggling some tasks around, but at the end of the day, you will have completed everything on time. Since news regarding immigration and travel changes almost daily due to COVID-19, sometimes I had to create new pages or edit our website and create promotional materials for Q&A sessions. It was crucial to stay flexible in terms of projects’ priority because new tasks might come up unexpectedly.
Working remotely, my productivity and energy levels weren’t the same as before. Using project management tools, such as Freedcamp, definitely helped me stay focused. Freedcamp is a free project management tool that helps you manage your daily tasks, important milestones and projects. You can set a task or project to not in progress, in progress and complete, so it is visually easier to see which projects I need more time to work on and how much time I need. Sometimes I ran into some technical difficulties, internet connectivity issues, and general stress around COVID-19. The first two required some time and patience. Sometimes resetting my wifi modem helped, but other times I had to reach out to my internet provider for assistance. While waiting, I tackled some tasks that didn’t need an internet connection such as designing promo materials on Illustrator. For the last one, knowing which resources were available and using those helped me to stay calm during the pandemic. Personally, keeping a notebook with a checklist of things I needed to do helped me to organize my thoughts and manage my time more efficiently. Remaining in control of these stress factors was also important to stay resilient and focused on my work.
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Although working remotely during a global pandemic was definitely not what I had in mind at my first co-op, working at ISS was definitely a rewarding work experience. Practicing resilience at work meant reducing negative stressors such as low morale and motivation, and as mentioned previously, staying focused, healthy and flexible allowed me to cope during such unpredictable time. Previously during my job search, I was wondering how I could secure a job without all of the skills and years of experience employers were seeking for candidates, but now I am much more confident to look for future jobs. I’m thankful to my co-op advisor, supervisor, and coworkers for providing me with a very welcoming work environment and a great learning opportunity! I would highly recommend the co-op program to all students looking to bridge their academic learning with real work experience.