boston train

Duffy's usual view on the ride to work — a totally empty train car.

I never imagined my first professional experience would be in the middle of a global pandemic. I am one of the lucky ones; my internship did not get canceled or go virtual. Monday through Friday, I commute to downtown Boston for my internship at Snow Bull Capital, a start-up hedge fund. The average age in the six-person office is 21.7 years old.

Most days in quarantine before my internship, I woke around noon. Now, I wake up at 6 A.M. My house is disturbingly quiet because no one else needs to get up that early to commute these days. After I get ready, I drive 30 minutes to the MBTA stop in Dedham, Massachusetts, because the train is on a reduced schedule; the train doesn’t stop anymore at the two stations closer to my house. 

There have been days when there is not a single person in my train car. During my brother’s internship in Boston last summer, he said he often struggled to find a seat on the train most days, and he always ran into friends from high school who were also working in the city. 

If I am lucky enough to see a fellow commuter, they are always wearing a mask. None of the food courts are open in South Station, and there is no sense of hustle and bustle like there would be on a regular work day in Boston. 

When I arrive at the State Street building, where our office is located, there are many precautions in place to keep employees safe. The routine looks like this: First, I must sanitize my hands. Next, I make sure I am not running a fever at the temperature-self assessment station. Once cleared, I can head up to my office on the 31st floor, but no more than three people can be in the elevator at the same time. Good health is the new security clearance. 

The office is in a WeWork space, so it is responsible for making the office a safe space — credit to them for all of these strange, but necessary, precautions. There are green dots in all of the conference rooms, indicating where people must sit in order to comply with social distancing standards. Snow Bull has a six-foot string to measure the distance between people in our office. There are arrows on the floor to keep traffic in the workplace flowing in a single direction and to prevent people crossing paths. 

When I arrived on my first day, I fought the instinct to shake hands upon meeting. Beyond our fierce team of six and the cleaning staff, I have not seen anyone else on our floor. We all keep our masks on, wipe down our desks and doors throughout the day and are not allowed to share anything. When the work day is over, I simply head straight home because there is nowhere else to go. However, my company is hoping to plan a safe, makeshift mini-golf outing soon.

There’s a strong sense of empathy between all of the people working in Boston these days, because everyone is doing their part to keep each other safe — not surprising in the most intellectual city in the country. 

I hope to see more people returning to work in Boston throughout the summer, so the city no longer feels like Mars. Honestly, my experience traveling downtown and working in the WeWork environment has been nothing but positive, and I feel totally safe. I am hopeful that if people continue to take COVID-19 seriously and socially distance, returning to “normal” will be a safe and reasonable possibility.