Before this internship experience, I have had some unique experiences that have allowed me to shape and develop my own leadership style. This past year, I undertook my first real leadership position in my university experience, as the Public Relations director of Pitt Program Council. In this role, I was in charge of all social and digital media content for the campus’s largest event programming board. While this was certainly an intimidating and daunting role, that I had to fulfill to the best of my ability for an entire year, I can confidently say it was one of the best learning experiences I have ever had. Besides managing and juggling over five different forms of social media, creating digital content, and keeping up with the endless number of events on sale, I also had to direct, supervise, and maintain my committee, which ended up being around 20 people. This allowed me to really narrow down and carve out my own leadership style, as I was mostly winging it before. While leadership styles were something we had talked about during our retreats, there’s nothing like holding your first committee meeting, realizing you really don’t know anything and taking the plunge, head first, into the deep end. But over the course of the year, I was able to discover how I like to be a leader. I found myself to be a big fan of ice breakers, for one thing. I think that falls in with my thinking of maintaining a good and open relationship with my committee members and those I am leading. While I may not be best friends with everyone, being able to foster an environment that made people feel safe, comfortable, and open with themselves and others was very important to me. This also helped with the task of delegation; when I openly communicated what I needed to be done, and specifically threw the task into the air for someone else to grab, I was pretty successful in delegating the large amount of responsibilities that come with digital marketing to a large group. Over the course of the year, I also learned how to better communicate my expectations with committee members, bringing it back to the open communication and respectability that I think is very important to foster from day one. As I go into the new school year as the Special Events director, I will be dealing with different tasks to manage and delegate, and a larger committee that often times fluctuates in attendance. My biggest challenges will probably be to keep up this stable environment that I had with my last committee as people come and go, but I will be sure to try my hardest with the tried and true method of open communication and delegation.
Through my internship abroad, I have had the opportunity to observe my colleagues around me, including my supervisor, and take note of their leadership styles. I think one of the biggest things I’ve noticed is how important being available, creating relationships, and establishing some sort of ranking system is. My supervisor is both the founder/partner of the law firm, and more or less the supervisor to everyone else. While he is young, pretty hip, and rather easy going, more often than not it is hard to catch him to talk when he is going in and out of meetings or leaving the building. I think the fact that most of my colleagues report to him is difficult, as I have overheard grumblings of how frustrating it can get. I think establishing a more concrete ranking system, so people don’t necessarily have to go straight to the chief is a more effective way of leading, and makes things more efficient all around. Observing this, I can already think of ways in which I can bring this back to Pittsburgh as I continue to grow as a leader. As Special Events director, I will be faced with a laundry list of to-do items, especially the days leading up to and after show days. Breaking people up into sub-committees and sub-committee directors will make my life much easier come show day, and I can place my trust in hand-picked committee members committed to making the show run as smoothly as possible. Seeing how my internship functions, I plan on using my observations to help myself set some ground rules with my committee in the upcoming year, as well as continue to make sure I am creating the environment that I would want to be in, and that everyone feels as useful as possible.
In other news, I had a pretty good week at work. I’ve been daunted with the slightly scary task of planning, coordinating, and executing a seminar that is set to take place in three weeks. This idea itself already causes me stress, as my time planning events at Pitt has really hit home the idea of taking at least 8 weeks to successfully bring an idea into fruition (and even that could be cutting it short) (let’s just say that I’ve been planning Fall Fest, a concert happening in October, since April). However, this is exciting for me because I think it’s something I can prove myself in-I know how to organize, I know how to plan, and not only that, I know that I’m good at it. I’ve had the training of my supervisor, who has a guy in every industry and has been planning stuff for longer I’ve been alive, and I’ve worked alongside some incredibly driven people to bring their ideas to life. Whether or not this works out in three weeks, which I will truthfully say I am a little doubtful of, I’m glad I can at least begin the stepping stones for this seminar by contacting high representatives to speak, cultivating a guest list, and corresponding with some very cool and global companies. Also my boss took us out for Indian food for lunch. Now that’s what I call cultivating a safe environment *chef kiss*