Taking classes online has been a huge transition for students. I know that when I got on Zoom the first time I felt awkward, almost uncomfortable and slightly exposed. It was unnatural and something I know many of us were unaccustomed to and still are, especially for a classroom environment. Although this is the case, I couldn’t help but recognize how Zoom isn’t this new, state of the art technology most of us were making it out to be. It’s crazy to think that Zoom was founded in 2011 and we’re all just hearing about it now. In reality, virtual meetings have been used as an effective means of communicating for years, especially in the business world, and are a very natural means of conducting meetings for many professionals.
I know this from my own experience. One summer I worked as a corporate communications intern for a global company. During this internship I attended virtual meetings at least twice a week. Every week my department had an editorial meeting in which we met virtually with our corporate communications team in another location. We would set ourselves up in these meeting rooms with huge television screens surrounded by large tables and technology that allowed us to easily connect with our colleagues virtually.
Besides the editorial meetings, every Friday my manager worked from home, which often meant that we would review my progress and go over my assignments at the end of the week with a phone call or virtual chat. I would go to one of the many private rooms made available on my floor, open my laptop and attend the meeting through the screen.
The virtual meetings didn’t end there. Because the corporation is based in Germany, we would virtually connect to events and meetings being held at the company headquarters and participate by sending questions in via chat. This was the only way for employees throughout the world to stay connected and feel present.
Not only did this one experience highlight the relevance of virtual meetings in the professional world, but so has my job application process. I’ve been interviewed virtually five times. The last time I went in for an in–person interview was my freshman year, which was three years ago, and I’ve spoken to many of my college friends who have confirmed that they’ve had similar experiences.
Although Zoom may not be everyone’s favorite means of connecting and still feels a bit strange, I think that it’s beneficial in that it teaches students how to adapt to new and different ways of working, and prepares them for a reality that they may face in the future. It’s true that there are various benefits to the in–person experience, but the online experience is becoming more and more dispensable.
With that said, I don’t think we can say that the in–person experience is the best experience in a world where technology has become intertwined with almost every aspect of life and continues to dig deeper and become more prevalent. Knowing how to communicate in person is just as important as knowing how to communicate online. Additionally, learning how to be comfortable, confident and present online is a crucial skill to have in today’s day and age. With so many jobs being offered remotely currently and potentially in the future, this is even more critical.
Taking classes online has proved difficult for many, especially in the initial stages, and even though Zoom has this unfortunate connection to COVID-19, I think it’s imperative to highlight the benefits of adjusting to online classes and the helpful skills it has given many of us.
Now, I find that I am a lot more comfortable on Zoom and notice that I’m really enjoying my online classes. This is just one part of my college experience that has prepared me even further for my personal and professional life.