Graham School News

Zoom, Exercise, and Meditation: Master of Science in Analytics's Claire Zhang on Her Remote Learning Experience

Catch up with Master of Science in Analytics student Claire Zhang as she shows us what a day in this time of remote learning looks like to her.

How has it been transitioning to remote study and online classes?

Now we have just completed week two of the Spring Quarter. While I think there were some things we needed to adapt to at the beginning of transitioning to virtual classes, I started to feel very comfortable in these Zoom meetings in the second week. And I have been enjoying all these online classes as much as the in-person classes before. I think there are a couple of things that contribute to the great learning experience:

  • We are encouraged to turn on our video. By being able to see each other’s faces, I feel like I am still able to have a connection with my classmates (some of them are my best friends) and get to know them more. 
  • I like that there are many discussions and interactions, not just lecturing, in these Zoom classes. I see that students are still asking a lot of questions, instructors are being very patient when trying to explain the materials, and we are using chat boxes to share helpful studying materials on Zoom. I think we are all immersed into the Zoom meetings just like we were in our in-person classes.

View of desk from above with laptop, plant, headphones, notebooks, and mugs

What does your workstation look like?

I find it very helpful to keep my work desk as clean and organized as possible to keep me focused. I also stay close to my window to get that boost of vitamin D.  

What’s on my desk:

  • Essentials: my laptop, a pen, a notebook (to-do list), and some textbooks I look at frequently
  • Noise-cancelling headphones (great to have if you and your partner/roommate/family are all working from home)
  • Two mugs (one for water, one for tea) to keep me hydrated
  • A green plant if possible (a lovely cheers)
  • Hand sanitizer and hand cream (so needed in these times)

How do you spend your day?

Set of various weights

I like to start my day with a workout—either yoga, HIIT training, or some combination of cardio and strength training. I personally feel like exercising first thing in the morning really helps me wake up (sometimes much more than a cup of coffee). Next I will spend my morning on something on the more creative side—like working on my data analytics projects, updating my resume/LinkedIn/GitHub, doing online trainings to practice my programming, or learning a new tool (this month it’s Tableau and Linux for me). I do take a lunch break. In the afternoon, I usually work on anything that has a due-date—my homework assignments, review lecture materials, and team projects. 

By 5 p.m.-ish, I usually take another break to cook dinner, so then I can have a fresh mind when I start my evening class at 6 p.m. After my evening class, I usually do a minimal amount of work, maybe just wrapping up where I left off during the day or reviewing my class notes.

How do you relax when class is over?

  • Exercise has really helped me destress. 
  • I feel like cooking and baking is a therapy for me, and I love to learn about making different cuisines, like Italian, Mediterranean, Asian, etc.
  • I just started doing meditation with Headspace. I’ve been trying to do it every day and enjoy the feeling of being more present and more patient after meditating.
  • I have had friends suggest doing gratitude journaling—writing down a few things that you appreciate. I am looking forward to starting this.

Claire Zhang

Do you have any tips you would like to share about doing graduate work remotely?

  • Work as a team with your classmates and instructors (data scientists don’t work alone). Ask for help if you get stuck on a homework question, if you are trying to understand a model, or you are not sure how to approach a problem in your data analytics project.
  • Have a calendar and schedule time for schoolwork, part-time job (if you have one), internship/full-time job searching, and personal self-care and relaxation. This can help you be productive during the time you are working.
  • Keep in touch with alumni and your networks to stay informed of what is happening in the industry.