Reflections of an ACUHO-I Intern (Week 8): Is Working-From-Home Right For You?

After 8 weeks on the Roompact Team, I’d love to say that I’ve cracked the code of WFH (“Work from Home”), but I can’t say that that’s the case. Even with WFH experience in my last position and a year of online school, working a remote internship has posed a difficult transition to navigate. It’s not from a lack of motivation or support, but simply because I miss people. 

The higher education industry is relationship-driven. We know that the professional field is intimately connected, with many relationships stemming from graduate programs and first jobs to twenty-year careers and professional associations. Not only this, but we know that practitioner-student relationships play an important role in student belonging and in turn, the student experience. 

My decision to pursue a degree in higher education was largely relationship-driven. Having cultivated unique relationships with administrators from my undergraduate institution, I felt I belonged on campus and could help other students belong as well. However, the Covid-19 pandemic has put us all in a precarious position. 

With many institutions and companies moving to a work from home model in response to the pandemic, relationships just look different. In an online environment, there are no water cooler talks or bouncing ideas off of one another, one is left largely to their own devices. This is not to say there is no interaction amongst the team. Applications like Slack and other online platforms give space for social interaction, but with much more intentionality and likely less frequency.

Speaking with the rest of the Roompact Team about this transition has been integral to any success I’ve had in this position over the summer. We’ve talked about the possible origins of this difficulty – Is it being a new professional? Being new to the Roompact Team? New and nebulous assignments? Or simply, being an extroverted individual? While I haven’t come up with a specific answer, I’d like to think it’s a combination of all of the above.

The decision to pursue a post-secondary degree is a serious one. There are a number of reasons students choose to go to college, but often these reasons fall as a prerequisite for careers in a specific industry. If students are attending institutions to learn the skills necessary for a future career, shouldn’t they also be given the opportunity to experience the variance that may be associated with different positions in that field? Whether that’s working remotely or in an office setting, I believe we could be doing more to ask students not only what position they are interested in pursuing, but what aspects of the position are integral to their success?In my experience, a year of online classes did not prepare me for working in a remote environment, but a summer internship has given me the space to decide for myself if WFH is something I would like to pursue long term. While higher education institutions may not be able to adequately recreate a WFH environment, I have found it immensely helpful to seek out remote learning opportunities like summer internships that can better provide a realistic WFH experience. Even if I may not be perfecting WFH, I’m at least able to experience it in a capacity that may impact my future job search for the better.

What do you think about working from home? Is it right for you? How do you know?

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