Ohio University

Spring semester student workers adapted, succeeded during remote online transition

Published: May 6, 2020 Author: Staff reports

Across Ohio University, significant efforts were made to create meaningful remote working opportunities for student workers to keep working during the 2020 Spring Semester after the University switched to remote learning due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Student workers experienced professional development opportunities and trainings while some also changed how they completed their daily work. Keep reading to see some examples of how OHIO assisted student workers during this unprecedented time.  

Patrick Buzzard, a sport management and marketing double major, adjusted to become a student tele-recruiter for Admissions. His normal job before the pandemic consisted of making outbound calls to prospective students to invite them to campus events or inform them of upcoming deadlines. With the cancellation of in-person classes and tours, an adjustment needed to be made. 

That adjustment was to answer questions that prospective students may have via online chats. Admissions set up the online chat rooms for prospective students and their parents.

“The experience has been great. I really didn’t expect to be getting hours after the country went into lockdown so any income coming my way is great,” Buzzard said during the semester. 

Blake Manuel, an exercise physiology pre-physical therapy major, took on the role of student supervisor for the tele-recruiter position. He explained that student workers could select from five different shifts for the chats depending on what suited their schedules best. 

“We try to answer any question [the prospective students] may have about Ohio University,” said Manuel during the semester. “Personally, for me, things have been great because I’m just glad that I’m still able to work. Also, the questions from these prospective students have been great, too. We haven’t had a question that we haven’t been able to answer yet.” 

Maggi Karagosian, a journalism major through the Honors Tutorial College, was used to giving in-person tours on campus for students as a tour guide. However, her position also shifted due to the coronavirus pandemic. 

Karagosian said she started partaking in several trainings and professional development opportunities, while also conducting virtual tours for prospective students and writing postcards to send to them after the shift to remote work for the semester.

“I basically walk through a normal tour, except instead of walking, we’re clicking,” Karagosian explained. “Then they can send in any questions that they have through a Q&A function.” She said that normally on in-person tours, prospective students can be shy and don’t want to ask questions, but she saw a lot of interaction from people asking questions during the virtual tours. 

Besides working in Admissions, Karagosian also worked during the semester for the Honors Tutorial College as a writer and in Advancement as a student donor experience officer, where she connected with alumni. 

“I like being busy. It kind of helps me keep going through all of this,” Karagosian said about her three jobs during the semester.

Maggie Wolf, a communication studies major, started working from home in new ways as an undergraduate admissions tour guide. She also participated in professional development trainings and in writing postcards for prospective students, like Karagosian. 

Wolf also helped with monitoring a Facebook page and taking part in the connecting with a Current Bobcat program, where people can request a personal call or email from a current OHIO Bobcat. 

“The professional development training has been extremely beneficial, especially as a graduating senior,” Wolf said. “I do not think I would have used these resources if [I was] still on campus due to the business of the end of the school year.”

Josie Gogel, a marketing major, managed the website and social media platforms and contributed to a newsletter for the Innovation Center before the pandemic. She continued this work remotely, and also was able to help with a key function of the University’s small business incubator this spring — finding and disseminating information on how entrepreneurs can manage the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“The resource list I put together provided small business owners with information on funding, workforce assistance, business assistance and marketing,” she said. 

Although Gogel prefers an office setting, as she enjoys interacting directly with Innovation Center clients and staff, she appreciated the opportunity to gain experience with remote work. 

“This was my first experience working remotely and I have learned a lot,” Gogel said. “I’ve learned to have a set time and place to work, without TV or other distractions. Making it as much like work as possible has helped me be more productive.”

Kaya Mallick, a theater major, also is usually at work at the Innovation Center on West State Street, where she has been employed in the Technology Transfer Office for the last four years. The office works with University inventors to protect intellectual property and market new technologies. Mallick was able to continue her work remotely; she updated information about Ohio University technologies available for licensing in the office database and on its website. 

University inventors were busy remotely engaging with the office during the semester, and Mallick was active with helping file invention disclosures and other materials.

“It’s important that the Technology Transfer Office keeps up with everyday tasks such as patent maintenance to ensure that their intellectual property is protected and marketed appropriately,” she said.

In addition, Mallick also updated the office procedure manual to teach the next student employee how to use the specialized software used in the technology commercialization industry. 

“I gained several relevant software proficiencies and was exposed to the world of intellectual property, which I would not have ever encountered during my theater degree otherwise but will be very important in my career as a playwright,” Mallick said about her time working at the Technology Transfer Office. “I also had the opportunity to conduct some compelling research for technology commercialization projects and interact with many innovative scholars and professionals.”

Professional development opportunities and trainings were also available for OHIO student workers to complete. An example of these are SafeZone trainings, which are available for staff and student workers on all of OHIO’s campuses. 

These 90-minute introductory trainings are available for staff members and faculty to request for their student workers, and are presented by Micah McCarey, LGBT Center director, and Dr. Jan Huebenthal, LGBT Center assistant director, through Microsoft Teams.

Lisa Oyrell is a student in the social work program at OHIO Lancaster and worked as an Ohio University Learning Network (OULN) operator during the Spring Semester; she participated in two SafeZone training sessions.  

“I am getting my degree in social work. It is important for me to know and understand the LGBTQ community,” Oyrell said. She noted that she felt educated and more prepared after the workshops in how to communicate. 

Lyndsie Carruthers, a nursing major at OHIO Chillicothe, also enjoyed participating in a SafeZone training as a remote work option. Carruthers normally worked in the Dean’s office as a student assistant. 

“The training was very insightful and full of information regarding the LGBTQ community. It gave me a better understanding of certain terms and ways to deal with certain situations,” said Carruthers. 

These trainings include going over LGBTQ+ terminology, understanding current issues, learning tips for supporting as an ally and practicing scenarios that may arise in a workplace setting. The trainings also include open discussion opportunities, where questions are heavily encouraged. After the initial training, a follow-up training can also be requested. 

“We want to create a welcoming space where people can get customized answers to questions they may have,” McCarey said. 

The training materials were updated in March 2019, so if someone previously had the training, they could repeat it now for a new learning experience. To set up a LGBTQ+ SafeZone training, please contact the LGBT Center at lgbt@ohio.edu

These working remotely efforts during the 2020 Spring Semester helped students adjust in a time of many unknowns with something familiar. For more information about Ohio University’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, visit www.ohio.edu/coronavirus