This Student/Intern Fought Remote Distractions and Won

The graphic shows Leah Crabbe, a college student and intern who fought distractions to learn.

Leah Crabbe is a rising senior at Louisiana State University, majoring in Mass Communication with a concentration in Digital Advertising. She works remotely as an Agency Communications Intern at New York Life, an insurance company based in White Plains, New York. 

Thank you, Leah, for sharing your experiences with us! We look forward to seeing what you accomplish in the future. 

When Leah Crabbe’s college courses first went virtual, it was “a little complicated, because most of my classes were project based.” Her online classes began on March 31st, giving students and faculty just two weeks to prepare for virtual instruction. One of her classes was a big group project and others had lectures. One never met online and just posted digital assignments and an instruction to “Complete as much as you can.” 

Group projects take more effort

Although she was home safe in New York, Leah faced some stress early on with a group project. Her multiculturalism course had an important final group project. Leah had to find ways to connect with the group virtually. The professor “wasn’t very good at explaining assignments to begin with,” so there was a lot of confusion. The real challenge for Leah was that “No one would turn their camera on. You’re talking to a blank screen trying to work with people you don’t really know.” Fortunately, the group was able to connect and finish the project! 

Leah found school “hard to do online with so many distractions.” She worked in her living room and sometimes found her family’s activities distracting. Without a private office or library to do her work, Leah found the situation reminiscent of summer vacations. That made it hard to remember school. LSU anticipated Leah and her classmates feeling this way, and allowed for pass/fail grading options for any course. 

Reaching out to collaborate and ask questions made life easier

Despite struggling with distractions, she found ways to make virtual learning work for her. Leah says she “took more notes than normal and reached out more to classmates.” She found it “a lot easier to communicate with peers.” During class, she could collaborate with peers on a shared Google Doc of class notes, and text to check in or ask questions. These connections were especially beneficial as Leah felt that Zoom lectures were not conducive to “speaking or raising your hand.” For the fall semester, nearly all Leah’s courses are online. Her schedule was intentionally planned for “back-to-back classes.” Her main advice for online learning is, “Find a quiet place with good WiFi.” 

For Leah, her remote internship has been much more effective than online learning. Serving as an Agency Communications Intern, she collaborates closely with the marketing teams and other interns at New York Life. Her start date was pushed back a month, but she’s “still getting full pay, which is really nice.” Day to day, Leah sits in on “tons of meetings” and participates in “intern projects and challenges to help network and learn more about the company.” Since it is the 175th anniversary of New York Life, the challenges consist of finding out ”facts about the group, each other, and New York Life.” Leah is also learning more about the company’s philanthropic efforts. Together, the interns share their findings on a collaborative page and get to know the company and each other better. 

Remote work meant fewer distractions

Working from home has “fewer distractions than school.” Leah now sees why people enjoy it. “You’re on your own a lot.” Leah’s favorite thing about working from home is the ability to wear comfortable clothing when not on Zoom. Her least favorite aspect of remote work is feeling as though she is “missing opportunities to connect more with people.” To combat this downside, Leah networks with fellow interns and watches webinars. While there aren’t opportunities to converse with the panelists, it is interesting to hear from New York Life’s leadership about their professional journeys. 

The pandemic has taught Leah more patience. She says, “You never know what’s going to happen.” Leah advises, “Take it day by day, live in the moment.” She also recommends that people, “Keep devices away that could distract you.”

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