Zoom University–How Duke Students Are Doing It


A lot has changed in the past few weeks: classes moved online, in-person events canceled, Duke students all over the world cooped up in their houses. Change can always be hard, especially during a time as unprecedented as COVID-19. I decided to ask some of our students at the Career Center some questions to get an idea of how Duke undergrads are adjusting, from classes to job searches to coping mechanisms. Here are their responses:

  1. How has it been transitioning to classes online? Are most of your classes continuing to meet through Zoom or not?

    Zoom University. School of Making It Work.

Noelle (2020): Most of my classes are meeting through Zoom still, even though some are only for a fraction of the time they used to meet. My two classes that were 2.5 hours each have been condensed to more of a weekly check-in, and then we are all given the lesson for the week and expected to work through it on our own. My lecture classes don’t seem too different, as we’re still in the same basic format of lecture and taking notes. However, my discussion classes are a bit more challenging–with a lot of our work moving from in-class discussions to online forums.

Rebekah (2022): All of my classes have continued to meet through Zoom but many have gone through structural and time changes. Some classes are structured to only have one lecture out of two for the week and others have decreased class time. One class tried to substitute Zoom lectures for podcast lectures but that proved to be difficult so just decided to go with Zoom.

Amauche (2020): It’s been interesting, a few of my classes have transitioned to Zoom and a few have just transitioned to online readings and forum posts. One hasn’t transitioned at all (so I guess we’re all expecting A’s). Online learning isn’t my favorite but Zoom is a good platform for what this situation has forced us into.

  1. What have you found to be the best way to stay productive and motivated in getting your work done while cooped up?

Noelle (2020): Keeping a schedule has been the best way to keep myself motivated. It’s definitely been difficult to focus on schoolwork right now, but carving out certain times in the day where I know I will sit down for two hours and try to be productive is helpful. Even changing locations like going onto my balcony even sometimes helps change up the monotony. 

Rebekah (2020): I’m honestly still in the process of finding ways to stay productive and motivated. Some things I am currently trying out are setting a daily bedtime, decreasing screen time by using a physical planner and notebook instead of Google calendar and digital notes, and setting personal deadlines.

Amauche (2020): I find it best to try to wake up at the time I would at school. I’m fortunate enough to be in the same time-zone so that makes it a bit easier.

  1. Any funny Zoom stories yet?

Noelle (2020): Nothing crazy–lots of technical difficulties from the professor’s end for one of my classes. In my Capstone, Molly Dvorkin tried to drink water and spilled it all over herself which was hilarious. The professor did not pick up on the fact that that was why I was laughing and is now convinced we have a separate group chat going–which we do. But we’ll never admit it.

Rebekah (2022): During a seminar class, our professor was frozen for a solid three minutes. No one knew what to do and just started laughing. Unfortunately, nothing Tik Tok level has happened in my Zoom classes yet.

Amauche (2020): No, I don’t really attend my Zoom lectures anymore…

  1. Do you have a post-grad job or internship lined up for this upcoming summer? If yes, have you been in contact with the company/organization about potential changes in plans or start dates? If no, has COVID-19 affected your job or internship search?

Noelle (2020): I reached out to UTA [United Talent Agency] on Wednesday re: the July start date I was supposed to have – implying that obviously I would love to still start in July but if things have not settled by then/they weren’t onboarding in July still, I would be completely fine to start in September. My contact there, the head of HR, responded very kindly to me in an email saying she appreciated my note and hopes to have more information for me soon as to what the next few months might look like.

Rebekah (2022): This upcoming fall, I am supposed to do the Duke in New York: Arts and Media study abroad program. One aspect of this program is to do an internship. We were told to continue with our internship search as if the program is going to happen, but it’s strange reaching out to people in these times, especially with the uncertainty of the program actually happening.

Amauche (2020): No, but I’m currently in the recruitment process with one company, doing over-the-phone and video interviews. So other than an onsite visit that may have been normal pre-COVID-19, not much has really changed. I did plan on attending a few career fairs after Spring Break, which have now either been moved to the fall or made virtual.

  1. How have you found to be the best way to stay connected with mentors, professors, organizations, etc. during this time?

Noelle (2020): That awkward moment when I’m not really involved in organizations. My professors have been really awesome in offering themselves as someone to talk to throughout this transition period though. One of my professors from last semester who I’d say I’m probably the closest with reached out over email as well.

Rebekah (2020): Zoom has definitely been the go-to for organizations and mentors. Sometimes I use email to check in with people, but the saturation of emails makes it hard to get quick responses.

Amauche (2020): More Zoom calls, emailing.

  1. What are some things that you personally do to stay happy and healthy?

Noelle (2020): Spending a lot of time with my “quaranteam” right now in downtown Durham and trying to make the most of the time left in this semester. Day-to-day that usually involves a lot of walks outside around the East Campus Loop, finally reading the books that have been sitting on my dresser forever, starting to make a significant dent on the film and television “to watch” list I’ve had in my Notes folder, and ordering in some of my favorite local restaurants. CorePower Yoga has an amazing online/livestream collection of classes that I’ve been trying to do daily to stay in shape physically as well as sane mentally.  

Rebekah (2022): One of my professors suggested journaling about our experiences and I decided to try it even though writing is not my favorite or strongest skill. It has proven to be very therapeutic and has allowed me to self-reflect thoughtfully about emotions and situations I am going through.

Amauche (2020): For one I stay at home. I also just take things day by day, not worrying myself about what the next few weeks would bring or not. I keep in touch with some friends over text and facetime.

  1. Any other thoughts or advice?

Amauche (2020): There is always someone you can reach out to for whatever you’re struggling with/anxious about in this time. Whether it be your grades, summer opportunities being canceled, or how to stay healthy, Duke has a plethora of resources to take advantage of.


And I second that–we at the Career Center are here for you! For specific concerns about job/internship searches during COVID-19, you can also check out the Career Center's new page for advice and resources.