Although the COVID-19 pandemic has separated us physically, #ICANHELP, a non-profit dedicated to erasing online negativity, has continued its efforts to spread positivity through communities in an online setting.
#ICANHELP was founded when a fake harmful Facebook page gained over 1,000 followers, and in the 9 years since has created an online curriculum, traveled across the country to present assemblies, and even hosted events that celebrate positive social media use. However, #ICANHELP’s most recent efforts have proven to be its most substantial to date. When quarantine began, #ICANHELP was just starting to transition into its new intern programs. The organization had a great idea: use this time of increased online engagement to expand the internship program further than ever before!
#ICANHELP’s mission is simple: empower student changemakers and promote digital safety. By recruiting interns from 17 different states and 4 countries, the non-profit has had the opportunity to carry out that mission. All meetings, including the 2-day training for all of the interns, are conducted entirely through Zoom, Google Meet, and emails. Interns are working on a variety of projects in the areas of marketing, social media, press releases, and video editing. #ICANHELP’s intern program is truly a student-run and student-led initiative, but the interns are also receiving support and guidance from industry mentors from all over the world.
Where most companies have struggled to adjust to an all-online setting, #ICANHELP has actually flourished. The lessons learned by the interns at #ICANHELP can apply to anyone facing long hours in front of a computer. So, how do these students stay motivated in this fully digital workspace?
“I stay motivated while working online by creating a designated workplace in my home where I can write out my goals and surround myself with things that keep me going! One thing that motivates me is diffusing essential oils by my desk and also checking in with others on my team to stay active together!”
Malorie Bournazian, #ICANHELP Lead Intern
Malorie brings up a great point: teamwork! Online learning can be isolating, so taking the time to reach out to your classmates and work together to complete tasks will help you not only stay on task, but also stay connected!
“Organizing my workspace has helped so much while trying to stay motivated while working from home! Having a clean and designated workspace helps me get into the right mindset, I also have started putting my phone on airplane mode while I work! Making a to-do list is a must for me. Although having a designated workspace is nice, I try to change up my environment so the days don't feel extremely repetitive. I have my desk set up in my room but at least twice a week I try to find another quiet place, like the kitchen table or work in the backyard!"
Alexa Negrete, #ICANHELP Digital Media Intern
Make sure to switch it up! Part of what makes learning engaging is the ability to discover new environments and opinions, so take some time to work outside and even do your own research on topics being covered in class!
Another important part of fully online learning and working is recognizing your mental health needs. #ICANHELP collaborated with Wellbeing and Trust to create Work2BeWell, a curriculum that focuses on mental health topics such as stress, anxiety, and depression. Taking care of yourself helps you stay focused on anything that might come your way.
Whether or not we planned for it, many schools have already committed to an all-online semester. With this in mind, #ICANHELP wants to remind students to:
Act like you’re there in person
Be engaged, respond to questions, use chat features and make sure your video is on when Zoom learning!
Create a community with your classmates
Talk outside of class, whether it’s about your schoolwork or what you had for lunch!
Before video learning, make sure you have a drink and a snack, your notebook, and anything else you need to be comfortable for a long learning session.
Remember the purpose
Think of what you will gain from this knowledge and how it can help you in the future, whether that’s for college, a career, or even in your favorite video game!
The main thing we can encourage students to do is to spread positivity on online platforms, especially in the face of so much negativity. #ICANHELP is hosting an online workshop on how to be a Digital First Responder: students who are quick to identify harmful content and respond respectfully. If you see classmates are feeling down because of distance learning, reach out to them and be an open ear. If you see something that might hurt others, report it to the appropriate authorities. No matter how you do it, #YOUCANHELP. Visit #ICANHELP’s website for more information.