The second week of my internship had just finished when I heard from a friend that the borders to Austria are very likely to be closed within the next days. From then on, everything went extremely fast. In a matter of hours, I had packed my bags, booked my plane ticket, and went to Austria. As I am an international student, I found the thought of going home more comforting than staying in the Netherlands. Then, the next day, I started my daily home-office routine.
I always imagined working from home as being so easy, fun, and relaxing, but actually, it was quite the opposite. As my internship is only part-time, I am also taking some additional university courses. Quickly I realized that I lost my whole routine, with no scheduled classes, a physical internship location, and my mom storming into my home -“office” and talking to me every other minute. Also, my dog frequently needed attention, of course. In such times, it is crucial to set up a schedule for yourself and also stick to it. I started telling my family when I was working and not available, and when I was. While this definitely took some getting used to on all ends, it eventually worked out and had everyone be a little more relaxed.
My internship team has been very accommodating and has always tried to make the best out of this challenging situation from the beginning. I am doing my internship in Business Development for the company Victory Art. They are representing emerging artists from Eastern Europe and aim at giving them more access to the global art market. The transition to online meetings via Zoom went really smoothly, and the communication throughout the working sessions within the team is not problematic. As my tasks can usually be done online, it has never been a big problem to get all the work done from home but it is still not the same as doing an internship in the office. Instead of having fun during lunch breaks with the team members or biking back home together, we are now all in different countries behind our screens. Days can get long and at times it might be hard to focus when you are always sitting in the same room.
Luckily, it has slowly gotten warmer and I was able to transfer from my actual office onto our terrace, as you can see in the picture. This occasional change was very welcome and also helped me to stay motivated and productive. Overall, while this is most certainly not the internship and university experience I expected for the end of this academic year, I am sure that it is teaching me a whole new set of skills that will definitely come in handy later in life. Some of those skills are flexibility, teamwork, persistence, and remaining focused. The challenging situation of working from home, after having lived abroad for a substantial time, and dealing with other challenges of work and university, definitely defined those skills.
No one knows for sure when the situation will go back to normal when we will again be able to meet friends as usual, go to the office to work, or study in the library. Or even only go to the pub on a Friday night to have a beer. The only thing we can do is hope for the best, stay positive, and just keep going. Everything will be fine eventually.
Author: Marley Wagner
Editor: Kat Nivera