This was a bittersweet calendar notification to receive. Mostly because Friday wasn’t my last day of co-op.
I have enjoyed my past six months working at my co-op, and was even asked to stay on another month, which I am looking forward to. But seeing that notification reminded me of what could have been. I remember putting it in my calendar in January and thinking about all the experiences I would have between my first day at work and my final one. I was expecting my co-op experience to all take place in Boston, which was not the case. I was excited to go to work every day and have more time to explore Boston on the weekends, especially during the warmer months. I was looking forward to attending meetings and lectures, while sitting next to my colleagues and getting to know them more. But unfortunately, seeing that calendar notification just reminded me that this semester was nothing like I expected.
For the past three and a half months, I have been working from home. While at times this has had its perks, it definitely changed my co-op experience from the one I was expecting. I am fortunate that I am able to continue to work during these challenging times and that I can do my job remotely and social distance at the same time. But I have realized that Zoom meeting burnout is real and that I really miss the social aspect and conversations I was able to have at work.
Working remotely has changed what my job looks like a bit. Now taking notes during online meetings is a major aspect of my job, which I never had to do back in Boston. I have also had to juggle working in a different time zone from the rest of my colleagues, which has affected my normal routine. However, I am also aware of how fortunate I am to be in my position during this time. As a student studying public health, I have had incredible access to different lectures and meetings from public health officials during a global pandemic. I have also witnessed how the researchers I work with have had to shift their focus to meet current needs for data and include COVID-19 research into their ongoing projects, surveys, and clinical trials.
Sure, I was hoping to experience all of my co-op in Boston and I miss going into the office everyday. My expectations have definitely shifted from when I first put that notification into my calendar; however, I have still managed to learn from my colleagues, expand upon my skill sets and knowledge of the research process, attend interesting lectures and meetings, and adapt to different working conditions. I still have one more month to go and I am excited to continue working remotely with my team. While it is not exactly the co-op I imagined, I am still proud of what I have learned and accomplished in this role, especially during these challenging times.