Before Trinidad

Hi! My name is Jenny Zhen and I’m currently a sophomore at University of Pittsburgh’s College of Business Administration. Outside of the Certificate Program of Leadership and Ethics, I am majoring in Finance and Business Information Systems and pursuing a minor in Computer Science. I am part of Pitt’s Undergraduate Finance Club and Asian Student Alliance’s Cultural Inclusion and Advocacy Committees. Outside of anything related to school, I enjoy trying new foods, doing almost anything related to art, driving, and amateur rock climbing.

I am from Bucks Country, Pennsylvania (about six hours from Pittsburgh or a little under an hour from Philadelphia). I had also previously lived in Egg Harbor Township, New Jersey until I finished middle school and Bronx, New York until I finished second grade. Having moved a couple of times, especially at major transitional periods of my life, I had the opportunity to learn how to adapt to new environments with new people. I honestly did not completely appreciate moving when I was younger because I had to leave my friends and some family. Looking back, I realize how it prepared me for the whole process of moving for college and managing without my immediate family. If anything, I have developed a desire to keep moving and travel beyond the northeast. This is mainly the reason why I chose to attend Pitt Business. Pitt itself is close enough for my family to not worry too much if I were ever in trouble, but the business school resonated with me in its emphasis in studying nationally and internationally.

I am incredibly excited to be travelling to Matelot, Trinidad over spring break with my Global Service Learning Organizations group. Our goal is to create a strategy for the Matelot community to develop a market for sustainable ecotourism, which hopefully will strengthen their economy. To accomplish this, we will be working with Amizade, a fair-trade learning organization that advocates for responsible global service learning, and with one of Amizade’s partners, the DORCAS Women’s Group, a group of women that aim to rebuild their community. We will be assisting the latter organization to develop professional skills and behavior, which they will hopefully apply when interacting with other potential international business networks.

So far in our process, we are developing our Scope of Work, an agreement between us as Pitt Business Student Consultants and our client the DORCAS Women’s Group. It has been a challenging process as we overlooked the level of specifics in language and in concept necessary to complete a well-put-together scope. But we realize the importance of it because it affects the students of later years’ plans and the overall ten-year plan of the project. We have also reached out to Amizade representatives, and read news articles and our Culture Smart books to really understand the cultural and business contexts of the DORCAS Women’s Group and Trinidad in general. Of course, we can not say we know enough about either until we land in Trinidad and get to engage in the day-to-day lives of the women and the people in the community.

I originally chose to apply to Global Service Learning in Organizations because I was interested in travelling to a country that I knew close to nothing about. Ever since I developed my personal goal of travelling as much as I can, I knew I wanted to travel specifically to countries I know little about. As I learned more about the course and our purpose for travelling to Trinidad, my interest grew more. I love the idea of simultaneously being able to immerse myself in new cultures and to apply many of the business theories and skills we learn in class to a real-life hands-on project.

Similarly, I decided to apply to participate in the Certificate Program for Leadership and Ethics because of its unique approach in teaching students by assigning them real-life hands-on cases. In other classes, we mostly discuss about the companies’ and managers’ situations in articles or hypothetical situations. We analyze the cases and apply different business theories to create proposed solutions, but we never fully go through the difficulty of considering ethical and emotional factors. In our CPLE classes, we have the opportunity to have first-hand experiences in the various dilemmas we always hear about in our traditional classes. Because of the various projects we have done and are currently doing so far, I developed an interest in consulting and see it as a possible field I may enter later in my future career.

By participating in the Certificate Program, especially and specifically the Global Service Learning class, I believe I will learn many academic, professional, and personal lessons. Some I hope to discover, and some I may not expect. Academically, the group projects that we are assigned in our classes will definitely help me transfer a lot of teamworking-related skills to other group projects I will have in my other classes. I know they have unquestionably helped me manage group work in my finance class. They have certainly reminded me the significance of time management when working with multiple people with specific deadlines. Professionally, the CPLE classes will allow me to explore my leadership style and to apply the lessons I have learned from the projects to real-life tasks I may encounter at an internship or future full-time job. Personally, I will be testing my skills and traits of communication, patience, and flexibility in time and energy. All of which, I can improve upon when interacting with other people professionally and casually. I will also be working on my goal of travelling to as many countries as I can and to be exposed to a wide variety of cultures that I may not have thought about before, such as those present in Trinidad and Tobago.

I would be lying if I said I definitely knew what I will be doing after graduating in April 2021, but I am hoping travelling opportunities continue to arise and hoping I can happily say I enjoyed my time as an undergraduate student.