Working From Home: A Graduate Student's Perspective

April 20, 2020

photo of siddarth kaki working from hom

The COVID-19 pandemic has forced us all to make changes to our lifestyles in many ways. Graduate student Siddarth Kaki, who is pursuing at Ph.D. in aerospace engineering, took the time to tell us about his experience as he's been adapting to online learning and doing research from home during these unprecedented times.

Are you still in Austin and working from home?

I’m still in Austin, but with my parents, who also live in Austin!

How has the Stay at Home order impacted your daily routine?

Fortunately, I have been able to continue my daily routine intact for the most part, just working from home instead of at ASE (and with everything moved online). The biggest impact for me is not getting to spend as much time outdoors as I’d like to, especially considering the beautiful weather we’ve been having these past few weeks.

Has your relationship with your faculty advisor changed?

This extended remote-working situation is new for all of us, and naturally is accompanied by its own hurdles. However, my advisor Dr. Maruthi Akella has been tremendously helpful and supportive in keeping our research discussions and work going, while also being very accommodating given the current situation. Thank you Dr. Akella!

How has this affected your research work and online learning?

Research for the most part has been continuing as before since I’m mostly focused on theoretical problems right now instead of lab work, so I can work from anywhere. Online classes have taken a little bit of getting used to (it’s harder to pay attention for extended periods of time via video call vs. in person!), but my professors have been great at accommodating for deadlines, workload, and communication inconveniences accompanying the online setup.

What’s helping you stay positive?

The biggest factors are 1) being grateful for having the resources to continue life and work in good health, 2) maintaining a similar routine to what I was following before the stay-at-home order began, and 3) spending more time with my family.

Are you doing anything new to help pass the time?

I’ve actually been more occupied by research and classwork since the stay-at-home order began than before! It’s just that time of the semester when there are many deadlines coming up. Outside of work, I have been spending more time with my family, reading, and volunteer teaching electronically.

What do you look forward to most when returning to campus?

It will be great to see everyone and the campus in-person again!

Do you have any advice for other graduate students during this difficult time?

I would pass on the following sage advice given to me:

There is no point in brooding over a dead past, getting agitated by the present, or worrying about an imagined future. The best methods to maintain inner poise are to: 1) do what we can to help those who need it, 2) give our well-wishes when we can’t otherwise help, and 3) carry on our own respective duties to the best of our abilities with an attitude of service to society.

Certainly easier said than done, but essentially we should do what is in our control to be happy and help others, and not be paralyzed by what we don’t and can’t have control over.