Student workers describe job changes during campus shutdown

Employees say they enjoy not having strict work schedule; do school assignments while working

BRADLEY GAMBLE, Evergreen reporter

While many students are enjoying the freedom of time from online instruction, many students continue their work for WSU offices.

Before the shutdown, Ryan Curtis, clerical assistant for WSU’s Academic Success and Career Center and junior history major, would work from a desk and reply to emails or answer phone calls. Now, he gets to wake up at noon and answer emails whenever it fits his schedule.

“I’ll have the email box open constantly refreshing, and I’ll do homework on the side to keep myself on track,” he said.

Ricky Thai, graduate assistant for ASCC and graduate student majoring in applied economics, said he has more energy for meetings than he ever has before the shutdown.

“There’s no more running from meeting to meeting and no more going on and off campus,” he said. “The travel time is going down to zero, so I have more energy to be in any meeting.”

Thai said his biggest challenge with working online is the communication with co-workers and students.

“If I want to share my idea, I like to show the notes I have,” he said. “It’s harder to deliver that message to your coworker when they can only see my face, so I have to type the notes out and then share the screen with them.”

Curtis said he has to deal with more complicated questions from students due to their worries over the current COVID-19 situation.

“A lot of questions we are getting now are about the stuff with COVID and how it is going to affect students,” he said. “Lucky for me, if I do not know the answer I can mark it and somebody else will swoop in and answer it for me.”

Curtis said his supervisors have been helpful with the online transition by being mindful of his school schedule while still assigning him work.

“They are really accommodating with any kind of school stuff. They know that comes first,” he said. “If I need to take a day off they’ll let me, especially since it’s all work from home now.”

Thai said he misses seeing the creativity from students he coaches more than any other part of the job.

“I get to come in and see the ideas that they implement into their work and school schedule,” he said. “It is very creative and I do not get to see it now that everything is moving online, I can see the ideas they’re sharing are limited.”

Curtis said he is looking forward to working in-person again and returning to in-person classes, despite him enjoying not having a strict time frame for work and school.

“I could answer emails and calls from home with no worry,” he said. “Making advising appointments is a little bit harder to do online.”

Curtis and Thai said they felt WSU was doing the best possible job at protecting students and staff from any exposure to COVID-19.