To say that this course had an impact on me would be just barely scratching the surface. I applied for Service Learning Organizations with expectations that not only have been met have been surpassed. I thought that by participating in such a curriculum, I would simply be learning how to get better at conducting business with foreigners but now I walk out of this class with lessons, skills, and knowledge that I could not have gained from any other experience.
In regards to the key lessons I learned, I chose to focus on three aspects: teamwork, culture, and service learning.
I have always liked teamwork, I have always thought that I was good at it. The teamwork I experienced for this class though was intensive and much more interactive than anything I had every experienced.. Not only did we work very closely together for more than once a week, not only did we all travel to a foreign country together, but we were each responsible for a very real cause.
And this sort of responsibility in turn forced us to be more responsible. There are three skills that I want to focus on in the “Principles of Effective Project Team Management” handout that we went over in class. The first is number 6: they are dependable. This project was not something that we procrastinate and do the night before just to get a good grade. We were compelled to start the project, see it through, and finish it in order to become a dependable and beneficial consultant for CEOLI. These were real lives that we had affect on! And even looking internally, we had to be dependable on ourselves. This project definitely calls for as many heads possible. We decided to split up the work so that each aspect of the work would have one person or a couple people’s full attention and we had to depend and rely on that work getting done. This project is only as strong as its weakest portion. If one aspect of the work was lacking, we would let our entire team down.
The second principle kind of goes hand-in-hand with dependency and that is number 8: they are committed. Like I stated before, this project is not something that we could do overnight, turn in, and forget. Not only are we committed for the entire semester to do the best we can for CEOLI, we are also committed to make sure that this partnership will provide beneficial for everyone involved for the next eight years. For this reason, we have really strived to focus on the suitability aspect of this project. We tried to make sure that the next group would be equipped with enough information to continue providing good service.
The third and last principle I want to focus on is much more internal- number 10: they are supportive. This project was not easy. We had many stakeholders that we wanted to please and we also felt emotionally compelled to solve every single problem that CEOLI faces. And the problems that CEOLI faces are very grave, the meetings in-country were hard to stomach. That is why support was so huge to me this semester. This project had many obstacles, and will probably continue to have many, but without each other’s support it would have been near impossible to complete. Although our team split up the work and individual groups, we continued to support one another and make sure that each one of us was producing the best result possible by checking up each other and offering help.
After college, I hope to be involved in a career where I will be able to work on many different projects. I am currently majoring in supply chain, where I am interested in project management, and marketing, where I am interested in market research projects. See a theme? Working on projects is something that I have always loved and hope to be a part of the rest of my life; so when I heard of the opportunity to work on a project for an actual business in a foreign country I was instantly interested. Day one of class, I faced an embarrassing truth- I knew very little about projects! One of the things I was unfamiliar with at the beginning of this semester was a scope of work. Learning and making a scope of work myself is something that I really appreciated about this class because I knew that such papers were used by actual business men and women. When I learned what a scope of work exactly was, I was shocked that I didn’t hear about it sooner. It seemed indispensable! To give some basic objections of what a good scope of work accomplishes, I will refer to the “Writing a Scope of Work Statement” handout from this course. A good scope of work forms the basis for agreement between customer/client and consultant/project team, will be the basis for all projects related decisions and changes, will be used to determine whether the project has been completed and its evaluation. I cannot tell you how many times I have gotten confused on a project because there was no written evidence of what our initial objectives were; and because of this I would easily get distracted and lose sight of the primary goal. The components of a scope of work- project purpose, objectives, outcomes, resources, and timeline- also does a good job in incorporating everything a project would be concerned with. After learning about a scope of work, I can so clearly envision how useful it would be in any project. As I move forward towards my career, I will use the skills knowledge I gained from this course about scopes of work to showcase my a ability to effectively start, execute, and finish a project to future employers. In my opinion, with regards to my career trajectory, I can confidently say that this skill is the one that has made the strongest impact on me and my daily life.
In my first reflection post I stated that “I hope to hone my marketing skills, my teamwork skills, and my cultural etiquette. I hope to not only better myself, but to better the lives of others as well, given this unique opportunity.” As I previously mentioned, this project definitely pushed me to better my teamwork skills. I have seen personal growth in how I work in a team setting. My cultural etiquette has also improved somewhat but as always still has room for improvement. I learned how to handle myself in settings where I did not speak the same language as the natives of the country. Through this I bettered myself, and am currently hoping to better the lives of others in CEOLI in particular as this semester’s project comes to an end. Although I wasn’t on the marketing team specifically, I was still able to learn a lot by being involved in the development of our marketing strategy in regards to the CEOLI cards.