Remote work-heavy job market comes with benefits and drawbacks for students and alumni


Photo by Ezra Craker

Calvin’s Career center has seen an uptick in remote work opportunities for students.

It’s a moment many can relate to: rolling out of bed and immediately hopping onto an online meeting or class. 

“If I have my glasses on in the morning that means I just woke up like a minute before my meeting,” alumna Esther Cha said of her early days getting accustomed to her remote job. “I don’t, like, go into the bathroom and get ready anymore,” she joked. 

Cha, who graduated in 2021 with a degree in biochemistry, has worked remotely as a software engineer at a health insurance company since graduation. Her experience reflects a nationwide trend that began with the COVID-19 pandemic. 

According to Pew Research over half of those with jobs that can be done remotely are now working from home. Before the pandemic, that number was just above 20%. Calvin students graduating into this remade job market have embraced the flexibility that remote work affords but miss some of the benefits of the office. 

Though Cha’s company’s headquarters are on the East Coast, working remotely made it easy to move to California to be with her family. While this means some early morning meetings for Cha, it also means getting off work before the sun sets and having time to eat at restaurants before they close. 

The tech industry was well-equipped for the pandemic-spurred shift to remote work, according to Cha. But even industries involving hands-on field work have had to adapt. Eva Heetebrij, who graduated this past May, now works remotely as an environmental consultant for a Minneapolis-based firm, occasionally doing in-person field work around Michigan. 

Heetebrij said that being able to work from the comfort of her home helped her ease into post-college life. “It felt like a little bit more of a baby step, rather than the huge adult step that it was,” she said. 

Elizabeth De Groot, a current senior who had a remote internship with a local prison ministry, said the ability to split up her work throughout the day made it more manageable with a full-time school schedule. She also noted that not going into an office regularly can be beneficial for introverts like herself. 

Remote work, however, is not without its challenges. For De Groot, it was sometimes hard to separate work and rest. “[Work] bleeds into all sectors of your life,” she said. 

“You have to be really self-disciplined,” Heetebrij said. Working from home can come with more distractions and less opportunities to connect with co-workers, Heetebrij said. 

Although it’s been more than two years since COVID-19 forced many to begin working from home, remote work seems to be sticking around. 

De Groot told Chimes she’s open to online work in the future, though she feels it has pros and cons. Cha said she doesn’t see herself going into the office everyday in the future. 

Heetebrij is using this year to test the waters and see what she’d prefer going forward. For now, she enjoys being able to make a beverage and light a candle before logging on to start her work day. “It’s pretty comfy right now,” she said.