“Education without application is just entertainment” – Tim Sanders

Key Lessons Learned

Throughout this class, I have grown so much both personally and professionally. I remember when I was first introduced to this class during a presentation from the students that went last year. I remember thinking that it would be pretty cool to travel to Bolivia for my spring break with some of my friends. Why not? Selfishly, I viewed this experience as more of a vacation at the time. Now, as I write my final reflection blog, I am laughing at how incorrect my logic was during that first presentation. In fact, I am ecstatic and grateful that my logic was wrong. Without that initial mentality, I would never have been able to see myself grow and learn the lessons that I did. Coming into this class, I had no idea what exactly a Scope of Work was or what it was used for in a professional environment. At first, our team used the Scope of Work as more a way to organize our thoughts with plenty of ideas that simply had no way of being achieved during one semester. However, we quickly learned that was not what the Scope of Work is used for at all. Instead, it is a formal way of communication between the consultant and the client. It needs to be very detailed and worded in a way that is reasonable and precise. We started to get frustrated when we thought the our best scope came back with even more edits that needed done. However, this frustration quickly lead to my first lesson from this class.

In the real world, I need to take my time and make sure that I am conveying reasonable, accurate, and precise information to whomever is receiving it.

My next lesson came in a more practical sense. A large part of our class revolved around reflection and discussion. Almost every Wednesday class we had an article to read and then be ready to talk about in class. At first, I read the articles to make sure I was able to participate and add meaning insight to the class. However, I realized that simply wasn’t going to cut it. These articles were just to serve as a basis of discussion and if I wanted to keep up with the complexity of our in-class discussions, I was going to need to do more than just the required readings. Therefore, I started to read the articles, but also try to relate the ideas from the article to my personal experiences. For example, during our discussion about “Building an Ethical Partnership”, I noted that CEOLI viewed our team as one and not as a group of individuals. This idea came up while talking about the care and valuing for well-being of all. Therefore, this seems like a pretty easy concept to grasp if I would have read the article, however trying to apply the concept to our project is where it gets a little more complex, but also where the value of the article is. Therefore, I learned a few lessons from our in-class discussions.

In order to contribute to a discussion, I can’t just do what is required of me, but go above and beyond to make sure I am completely prepared to participate.

Concepts are great for initial learning, but application is how to learn and develop.

Skills and Knowledge gained

As a student majoring in finance and supply chain management, minoring in statistics, and also doing the Certificate Program in Business Analytics, it is no secret that I am numbers driven. I love using real-life data to try to strategically solve business issues. However, this class forced me to take a different approach to solving problems. There were no formulas to follow, or hardcore financial statement to analyze so I had to step out of my comfort zone for this particular project. When I was selected to be part of the CEOLI cards social media team, I was a little unsure about how I was going to succeed as I had little to none marketing experience in a high level environment such as this class. However, as I reflect on my experience working within the social media team, I grew in so many practical areas that allow me now to “look beyond the numbers”. I had no idea how to use buffer or canva. I learned how to use a marketing calendar or even create one. I didn’t realize how important it is to use strict guidelines when posting pictures. Most importantly, I didn’t realize how a few pictures and captions can tell such a powerful story. In conclusion, my time on the social media team allowed me to see a different aspect of business that is so important to success to any organization.

This past semester, I learned so much about to act, think, plan, and talk like a professional. I learned most of those professional intangibles through the concept of teamwork. Of course, this was not my first exposure to a team-oriented project, but it was my first exposure to a team-oriented team class. In other classes that have team-oriented projects, a student may be able to get a good grade by being a decent team and excelling in the individual assignments. However in this class, I needed to be a great teammate in order for not only my individual success, but also for the group. The other aspect of this class that added incentive was the idea that we were essentially representatives for the University of Pittsburgh. Everything from walking around various airports with my Pitt backpack, to interacting with Amizade and CEOLI, to simply collaborating as a team, we needed to keep our purpose and behavior on a professional level. One major slip up on it was a bad look on myself, my team, PittBusiness, and the University of Pittsburgh. Therefore, I learned the importance of professionalism and teamwork the past few months through our student consulting experience.

Expectations and Challenges

“I wanted to take a class that allowed me to think outside the box, instead of simply memorizing formulas and definitions. I wanted to take a class that was going to enhance my knowledge of not only service learning, but how business is conducted in the real world. Professionally, I hope this class prepares me to become a more well rounded student, as I will not only be learning about service-based learning but also how to conduct business globally which is essential to any business student.” This is what I wrote on Blog 1 in regard to what I hoped to get out of this class and unique experience. Looking back on it, I believe that my expectations were not only met but easily exceeded. As mentioned earlier in this post, I was forced to step out of comfort zone which is what I was looking for. I also learned so much about consulting and how it works in the real-world. Even though it was a smaller scale, I found my learnings about scope of work, client relationships, ethical partnerships, etc. to be extremely useful and interesting. Therefore, my academic expectations were exceeded. Professionally speaking, I think that I grown through my time working with an international client in terms of how to conduct myself in a professional environment. The in country interaction that our team had with Vivan Schwartz also keep me achieve my professional goal of trying to learn more about international business. She talked about how Bolivia doesn’t have income taxes and how much of their GDP is illegal. I found her speech to be very interesting and insightful. As I mentioned in the lesson I learned, concepts can only get a student so far. Therefore, I applied the knowledge that she gave us about the Bolivian government and economy to CEOLI. In conclusion, I believe that all of my expectations prior to leaving for Bolivia were met.

The biggest challenge came in the form of food poisoning on the second to last day in the country. Sure, we have all been there at some point of our life, but it was different being sick in a foreign country. Ironically, It wasn’t the actual sickness that was the challenge, but rather the attitude that I needed to maintain while at CEOLI on the last day. The kids at CEOLI welcomed us with open arms and great attitudes all week, so I had to mirror that behavior to them. Sure, being sick made that tough, but I had to keep it all in prospective. These kids are going to school, trying to find their most helpful way in society, with the Bolivian government giving them basically no support. There was no way I was going to let some unprepared food, stop me from feeding into their contagious positive energy. In fact, those kids taught me so such more about positivity and prospective than any professor could.

I think it is important to note that I was expecting plenty challenges. In fact, I was looking forward to the challenges that my team and I were going to face in country. Aside from the sickness and a few language barrier issues here and there, our team’s experience in Bolivia went rather smooth. We were able to build relationships with the kids and staff at CEOLI. We immersed ourselves in the Bolivian culture to the best we could given our little time (my stomach may say that we immersed ourselves too much in the culture). In conclusion, I am so lucky to have taken this class and experience these past few months. It has taught me so many intangible traits about myself that have allowed me to develop into a better student, leader, and person.

I will never forget Spring break 2019 in Cochabamba.