Building Relationships During COVID-19

I, like many people, had reservations about working remotely for the entire summer. Would I be able to participate and network? Would I be able to prove my value in such a short period just over zoom? Would my work style be compatible? Well, I am happy to report that both of my internships are off to great starts. I would normally describe myself as professional yet amicable, much of which is part of my in-person personality. This experience has begun to challenge that but only in the best way. Our zoom calls with Ocean Conservancy are rare but I can attribute that to the trust our team has built and also confided in me. The first major milestone being an in-person, outdoor, socially-distanced lunch meeting in Santa Cruz. We were able to discuss my work so far, the ideal outcome and also my capabilities and interests which my team has respected and simultaneously pushed me on. I’m grateful for our in-person meeting for an elongated discussion and the ability to be a bit more candid about our expectations. I have high hopes for the rest of the summer.

My time at the Naval Postgraduate School has been just as rewarding and challenging, but in different ways. I admit, I am a bit lucky to have met two of my team members through previous networking experiences, so we are not just virtual peers. However, obstacles still exist like miscommunications and scheduling conflicts which can be difficult to overcome when our only option is to wait for an email response. The work I’m doing has also shifted since I first began which is exciting because it is taking on a larger scope with broader implications after my internship ends. The majority of my research is actually networking with officers within different branches of the Department of Defense as well as local and regional stakeholders. Some of this is difficult virtually; however, I do think the fact that many people are opting for video meetings over phone calls and emails is something that would never have happened before. Perhaps as we move forward this will remain a constant, helping us to build networks, recognize faces and put a personal touch back into our virtual work.

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