How I Learn Leadership

So, this post is supposed to be about my leadership experience before, during, and (because they want the program to look good) after the program. I want to give a real quick disclaimer: I don’t particularly like leading (mostly because I think that I function mostly as a kind of lone wolf), but I will lead when I have to.

To start, my previous leadership experience is actually pretty surprising considering that I typically don’t like working with people. Back in high school I was a solo chair in the symphonic band and a section leader in marching band. And although I learned a lot about organizing people and making sure that things happened on the field, I think that the most important thing that I learned about leadership was how to set an example. The great thing about marching band is that it has students from 4-5 different grades with members who’ve been part of the band for multiple years and by being a prominent member in the band, I learned a lot about how to inspire, how to encourage, and a little bit about how to teach responsibility. Additionally, when I started at the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown, I quickly became a prominent member of both instrumental ensembles on campus. By my third semester, I became the jazz chair for the jazz band, the jazz chair is just the fancy way to reference the go-to person for soloing, and at the moment I’m arranging a couple of pieces for both ensembles to play that help to feature various sections of the band. I hope to encourage the bands to improve as much as they can and to promote the expression of the arts at UPJ.

The rest of my experience comes from being an office for a student organization at the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown. As early as my freshman year, I was nominated and elected into a leadership position and have since ran meetings and organized events on my own. My most recent event was a fundraising tournament that had about 68 participants and lasted for about 10 hours, needless to say, that took a lot out of me. But now onto the more current parts of the prompt that people are here for.

The first question is about how the internship is challenging my perception of leadership. And to sum it up quickly, it isn’t. My internship is very special. Everyone including the company’s founders are working in the same room, we all constantly ask each other for advice, and we even go out to eat with each other very frequently (there have been times when every single person in the office leaves to go to the same restaurant during our lunch breaks, leaving the office completely empty). And it’s pretty clear to see that that lines up with my first ideal of leadership: treat people with respect to gain respect. Sure there are technically lead developers, but looking at everyone in the office, it’d be basically impossible to tell since we’re all working basically on the same level.

In regard to how I’m improving as a leader, The most important thing that I have been and still am learning is how to lead myself. That concept is a large part of why I entered the program. I’ve been trying to teach myself that if I want to do something, I need to do it. I wanted to go to Germany so I enrolled in study abroad, I wanted to keep learning and gain some work experience so now I’m doing an internship, I wanted to improve my skills so now I’m competing in tournaments here, etc. And a large part of being a lone wolf in a city like this is that the whole city is available to me, I just need to go there. So I’ve been exploring the city extensively, there are only three trains that run exclusively in the city that I haven’t taken yet, I’ve been to every district, and I’ve done all of it using only a map of the train system, no GPS. Starting to take the initiative is a lot of work, but it’s been rewarding. In the last three weeks or so, I have plans to be visiting about seven different cities in four different countries.