Photo courtesy of Luke Kellogg Photo courtesy of Luke Kellogg

Working remotely during the pandemic hasn’t been flawless. But this Michigander has adjusted on the fly to make it work.

MICHIGAN—Having a job that involves communicating with others on the regular can be difficult when you work remotely. But that is all Luke Kellogg—a 31-year-old Academic Success Coach at Lansing Community College—has ever known in the position. 

Kellogg has held the job for just over a year, applying for the position right before the pandemic began and being hired in October 2020. Kellogg said work has been almost completely remote while working in that position, meaning the time coaches have spent on campus has varied based on what safety measures were in place.  

“We went back into the office on a part-time basis around July of 2020,” Kellogg told The ‘Gander. “We have a pretty large team so we had a few coaches on campus each day of the week to help those students who were also on campus and wanted to meet face-to-face.

“While it has been really strange to be back after a year and a half of being completely remote, it’s been nice to be able to see our students and get back to a little bit of normalcy.”

Being a success coach involves a lot of working with students to figure out what works best for them in an academic setting. Doing so remotely meant meeting with people online and setting up more phone call appointments. While maybe not ideal, Kellogg said this led to more accessibility for some students. 

“While the shift to online services wasn’t entirely flawless, I think we were able to make it as smooth as possible and it really opened up new doors to being able to meet student needs,” Kellogg explained.

When Kellogg was working on campus, coming back brought forth an uneasy feeling at times.

“I started this position while remote so it almost felt like I had to re-learn how to do many aspects of my job,” Kellogg said. “In addition to that, there was also some uncertainty about safety protocols and what returning would look like. Luckily, Lansing Community College has done a pretty good job of making sure employees feel safe being back.”

That uneasiness wasn’t felt at work alone. Kellogg said that it krept its way into life outside of work, as well. 

“In many ways, the pandemic has been really isolating,” Kellogg said. “My partner and I went from seeing friends and family almost every weekend to not.”

Technology made things easier, Kellogg explained, allowing people to have Zoom parties and get creative when hanging out with people virtually. It also allowed for time to focus on things Kellogg enjoyed doing. 

“It was also really nice to be able to slow down and I suddenly had time to do things that I used to love doing like reading and writing poetry,” Kellogg said.

The conception of three safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines has eased some of Kellogg’s aversions to being outside the house during the pandemic. While Michigan’s has seen more than 1 million cases of the coronavirus, vaccinations have allowed the growth of that number to slow tremendously. Nearly 70% of all Michiganders 16 and older have been vaccinated. 

Michigan’s vaccination numbers are expected to increase soon, with the emergence of COVID-19 booster shots that can be mixed and matched regardless of what type of vaccine a person received. 

Now, Kellogg is hopeful more people will get vaccinated. 

“I felt really optimistic when the vaccine was released and I was so ready and so excited to get mine,” Kellogg said. “But, with so many people not getting vaccinated, a lot of that optimism has faded into frustration. I’m vaccinated and about to get my booster in the next few weeks.”