What we’ve learned from working remotely

Working remotely due to the COVID-19 pandemic has presented challenges, but it has also given opportunities to learn, grow and adapt. Here, some Newhouse NYC students and Newhouse alumni share what they have learned during this time.

Mike Janela ’07, gameday host at the New York Mets

“COVID has required us all to learn entirely new skill sets that, as professionals, we only used to need for the rarest occasions. Learning where the best lighting is in my cramped apartment for a Zoom call, or how to set up the most professional-looking background for an audition or hosting event. How to project energy on camera vs. in person. It’s been tough and nothing I’d been prepared for, but if you can succeed through this, you can succeed through anything.”

Janela wearing a mask at Citi Field.
Photo: @mikejanela/Twitter

Katie Benson, graphic design senior and digital design intern with NBCUniversal

“One thing I learned very quickly is that communication is key. While working remotely, you don’t have the luxury of walking over to your co-intern or co-worker’s desk and asking for help. Starting from day one of my internship, I made sure to contact my supervisor at least twice a day; once at the beginning to see what’s on the agenda for the day, and once at the end to send over any working documents from the day. This constant communication allows for less information to fall through the cracks and also allows you to show initiative and responsibility to your supervisor, which could lead to better and larger projects.”

Bryan Dumas 07, digital content creator and video specialist for IBM

“It was important to establish a routine that works for me. I still wake up at a decent time, I still prioritize my assignments, but I’ve also found working from home to be more effective. I have more time for myself. The time I save not commuting and taking lunch breaks has allowed me to take on other things that are making me better, like personal trainers and masterclass courses. Working from home also provides me with a much quieter environment than the commotion the office environment can bring at times. It allows me to focus more, which also plays into utilizing my time better.”

“The biggest positive to working remotely is I am assigned more projects and creative responsibilities than I would be if I were in the office. Small tasks like getting coffee and organizing files don’t exist in the Zoom days. Working remotely is also nice because I can take my work outside to a park, a coffee shop (socially distant, of course), or just about anywhere with Wi-Fi.”

Aerial photo taken at the Adirondack Mountains. Over the past decade, as drones have become a modern development in our life, Bryan has added drone photography to his storytelling hustle.
Photo: @b_dumas/Instagram

Maggie (Jiaman) Peng, advertising senior and strategy intern at MOJO Supermarket

“My team has been doing daily check-ins at 9:30 a.m. It’s been helpful especially as an intern to feel like part of the agency and not let the days blur together while working from home. I think being remote really requires us to have more empathy and respect for each other.”

Mike Kruz, afternoon host at Easy 93.1/Miami (WFEZ) and Magic 94.9/Tampa (WWRM) 

“The biggest thing is spending a little extra on yourself to make sure your streaming capabilities, sound, cameras, technology and internet is more than adequate. Especially early on, you could tell even national news anchors and talk show hosts weren’t prepared and the quality of their broadcasts were substandard and honestly, hard to watch at times. If that’s what our ‘new normal’ is going to look like, we need to put our best foot forward whether that means investing in yourself or getting whatever company you’re working for to chip in a little extra money to make sure everything runs smoothly.”

Mike Kruz in studio wearing a Syracuse Orange hat.
Photo: Easy 93.1 – WFEZ/Facebook

7. Danica Daniel ’04, former senior editor at Billboard

“I’ve learned that innovation is often born in times of chaos and nothing will be more chaotic in my lifetime than a pandemic. The old rules and ways of doing things are out the window and while facing uncertainty can be extremely stressful, I’ve learned to embrace this new normal as quintessentially freeing. Now more than ever is a great time to foster your creativity when it comes to your work life and personal life. Don’t just think outside the box, break that box apart.”

8. Marcus Gronauer, broadcast and digital journalism senior and sports programming intern for Mad Dog Sports Radio at SiriusXM+Pandora

“I’ve learned how to communicate effectively in a virtual environment. At the beginning of each day, I send an email to the executive producer of ‘Schein on Sports’ filled with my ideas for potential audio promos or video promos that I plan to work on. I do this not only to ensure that my supervisor knows what I’m working on but also to get feedback—positive or negative—on my ideas.”

Adam Schein
Adam Schein ’99 of “Schein on Sports.” Gronauer interns for Schein.
Photo: Cindy Ord/Getty Images for SiriusXM

9. Ben Oleksinski, newspaper and online journalism senior and intern for Peter Greenberg Worldwide

“Interning for Peter Greenberg was a right place/right time situation. This was my first time reporting and writing about travel news, right as airlines faced unprecedented challenges from the pandemic. Working virtually is kind of a double-edged sword— it’s much more efficient, which means there’s way more to do. Across the board, everyone there is great, and it’s been a learning experience that I’m grateful for.”

Damon Amendolara ’01, host of “The D.A. Show” on CBS Sports Radio

“Working from the home studio has been eye-opening. The advances in technology have allowed us to do so many things that just a few years ago would’ve been impossible. Stronger Wi-Fi, video conferencing, more powerful laptops and phones, and new audio editing equipment have all led to a new world where my five-person team can do a coherent show every morning from five different places. There’s always going to be a value of that in-person energy. As a team, we feed off one another on-air. But I think both the on-air crew and the bosses have been surprised at how close we can replicate that without being in the studio.”

Damon Amendolara ’01 delivers sports commentary on his daily sports talk show, “The D.A. Show.”
Photo: cbssportsradio.com

Carter Griffin, public relations senior and PR/events intern with Transform Group

“Working at home comes with its challenges, but some best practices I have learned, either by trial and error or even from our Newhouse NYC speakers, is how important it is to be professional in all communication to people in the company at all times—Slack, Zoom, email. Also I have learned how it is important to still treat the day as a work day, meaning wake up early, do work from bed, try to dress up—just getting out of pajamas.”

Cheryl Brody Franklin 04, director of Newhouse NYC

“What I’ve learned is that strong programming doesn’t need to be ‘in person.’ I have sat in on some of the most engaging classes with conversations that made me feel like I was sitting (less than 6 feet!) next to someone. And some of the initiatives we started are programs I plan on keeping even when we are fully residential. I’m truly overwhelmed by the number of people who want to be guest speakers, mentors and panelists. Everyone (especially Newhouse alumni) want to help, and so while this has certainly been stressful, it’s pushed me to refine and rethink the program, and for that I’m grateful.”

Cole Weinstein is a senior in the broadcast and digital journalism program at the Newhouse School.

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Newhouse NYC

Newhouse NYC is a one-semester program that provides students with a unique opportunity to intern for a prestigious media company while taking specialized coursework in New York City.