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Navigating A Virtual Co-op Experience During the COVID-19 Pandemic

December 3, 2020

The last few months have forced everyone to roll with the punches and take life one day at a time. When I left my dorm for spring break back in March 2020, I certainly wasn’t expecting to finish out my first year at Drexel University from my home in New Jersey. And I’ll be honest—I had hoped my sophomore year would look more normal, with campus reopening. However, I’ve learned some important lessons from this unprecedented experience.

Taking classes remotely has certainly been different than taking classes in-person. Although I miss the connections and friendships I made when working and learning on-campus, I have been able to find a silver lining in attending college remotely. Since I am spending most of my time at home, I’ve been able to spend more quality time with my family that I wouldn’t have if I was away at school. I’ve been able to be there for the little moments, like my brother’s first day of kindergarten. I’m also able to work at my own desk—the place where I first discovered my passion for writing and can focus best.

And yet, even though we have been working and learning from home since the spring, it was not until I began my co-op search that I realized that experience would most likely be virtual too.

Because of COVID-19, many co-op positions were unavailable. Limited positions meant that the competition was much greater and that finding an ideal co-op would be a challenge. Being offered the position of the Drexel Libraries’ marketing & communications co-op was incredibly exciting. Though I was nervous to navigate this new position online, I was thrilled to start doing the type of work that brought me to Drexel in the first place.

While I would love to be working on campus in the W. W. Hagerty Library, forming in-person relationships with my coworkers, working virtually with the Libraries has been fantastic so far. Zoom and Microsoft Teams has made it easy to connect and build relationships with colleagues from the comfort of my own home. Working remotely has been a learning experience and has given me the opportunity to slow down and immerse myself in my work.

What’s more, I am doing exactly what I hoped to do during my career at Drexel: gaining first-hand experience with projects related to journalism and communication. It has been an amazing experience so far, and seeing the published results of my work on the Drexel Libraries’ websites, newsletters, and social media has been thrilling.

Quarantine has been a difficult time for everybody—some more than others—but I am thankful for the opportunities I have been afforded so far. It’s definitely not the traditional co-op experience, but I’m enjoying navigating this new way of working alongside my fellow Libraries colleagues. I still miss seeing my peers, and I miss the fast-paced energy of Drexel’s campus, but I feel as though I, along with everybody working and learning virtually, am carrying out my civic duty by facing this challenge and helping to slow the spread of COVID-19.