With a COVID-19 vaccine on the horizon, most of us have created a mental checklist of things we’d like to do when the pandemic ends — travel, visit family, go see a movie.
Michael Reinmiller has one simple goal at the top of his list — meet his coworkers in person.
“I recently had my six-month evaluation, and on the evaluation, one of my goals was that I want to have coffee with one of my coworkers. That’s a pretty odd thing to put down on a six-month evaluation, but it’s true,” Reinmiller said. “During those walks to coffee and back, you figure out work situations, make them better, collaborate and polish them so that something will work. I haven’t had any of that so far.”
Reinmiller, who started a new position as an education and outreach multimedia associate at Nebraska’s Center on Children, Families and the Law last March, has had to meet colleagues and learn the ropes of his job entirely remotely.
Without the ability to pop into coworkers’ offices to ask questions, chat throughout the day and put names to faces, the transition to his new role has been fairly challenging.
“It’s just been really bizarre. They were like, ‘Here’s your computer. Go home. Goodbye,’” Reinmiller said. “They didn’t dump it on me like that, but it was very much like, ‘I have to figure out this new job,’ and there have been so many things up in the air.”
However, Reinmiller says the support he’s felt from his fellow Huskers has made all the difference in the world.
“Cheryl Yoder is the lead field training specialist that I have the pleasure to work with often,” Reinmiller said. “She has really made me feel welcome and helps me figure things out. Jessica Cook, our web project coordinator, has been amazing at holding my hand as I figure things out. I’m in awe at her willingness to show me the same thing over and over again. It has taught me that I want to treat people that way when they ask for help.
“The faculty and staff have been so understanding to me not knowing acronyms, peoples’ names and how to do things. I’m just really lucky that everyone has been so unbelievably gracious, and I’m so thankful for the people I’m working with.”
Though in-person opportunities for content creation have been limited, Reinmiller has still been able to support CCFL’s mission of improving outcomes for children and families in different ways.
“I do a little bit of everything. I do a lot of multimedia work, including photography, videography and video editing,” Reinmiller said. “Everything right now is remote, so it’s a lot of recording Zoom meetings, and then doing some editing on them and pushing them out for a webcast or things like that.”
“We’ve also visited a simulation house several times to teach about domestic violence, for example, and how child protective services need to be on the lookout for whatever it may be. I went there once and tried to shoot some video. I had to shoot with a long lens so that we could stay distanced and ten feet apart.”
Even in this stressful and strange time, Reinmiller said the position is one of the most fulfilling he’s ever had.
“I feel like the video work I’m doing is going to impact families’ lives. That is so important to me, especially now that I’ve got a son,” Reinmiller said.
And, amid the Zoom calls and endless screen time at home, Reinmiller looks to that six-month coffee goal as motivation and hope for the future.
“I’m really, really looking forward to being in the office with people. I want to bring my crockpot into work and have a bowl of chili with them. Once you make some food with someone and break bread, you can build that relationship,” Reinmiller said.