When I started my internship as a software engineer at Coursera amidst the pandemic this fall, I was excited to finally have a chance to work from home. Getting an extra hour of sleep and skipping the brutal winter commute in Toronto were things I had only dreamed of in previous internships. I thought to myself that there was finally a silver lining to being in lockdown. As the term progressed I soon discovered that working from home was not as easy as I’d thought. The two biggest hurdles I faced were feeling isolated and managing work-life balance.

As I started to settle into the internship the feeling that something was missing slowly crept up on me. I realized that what was lacking were the face-to-face communication and lively atmosphere of an office setting. What I previously took for granted, like taking a walk to get coffee with a teammate, to things I’d thought were bothersome, like office background noise, I now sorely missed. The physical distance made a significant difference. The dead silence after leaving a Zoom meeting served as a stark reminder that I was sitting all alone in my parents’ basement. …

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