Another week gone, another new place visited! This past week my parents were visiting me in Dublin, so we took advantage of the beautiful weather this weekend and drove west. While there, we visited the famous Cliffs of Moher and the Aran Islands. Both were absolutely beautiful, and I was happy to get a quick break from the hustle and bustle of Dublin. After being here for several weeks, getting out into nature and sunshine was much needed.
Having my parents with me around Dublin has been a very interesting and enjoyable experience. I was so excited to walk them through the streets I have grown so familiar with these past several weeks so I could see if they loved it as much as I do. Despite being homebodies, they truly love Dublin and have enjoyed their time here so much. From the museums to the food, they had no complaints! They weren’t fond of the busses, however. Traveling to other parts of Ireland was also a treat, as it lets me experience something new with them. Sharing the experience of being in a totally new place with somebody is truly something special to cherish.
Before this internship experience, I would consider my leadership style to be very average. For the most part, my leadership experience has only been with peers. When working with peers at my age, it can be difficult at times to address a large group effectively, to communicate efficiently, and to be a leader that receives respect. Rather than working on improving my leadership skills previously, I grew complacent and thought I was doing fine for my age. I was able to lead organizations as Vice President and Recruitment Chair but was never fully satisfied with how I was doing so. It felt average at best. I could unite a group to accomplish a task, but could not get them excited for it.
I think a large part of leadership is maturity and knowledge. At the start of this internship, I didn’t realize just how much I was lacking in the two of those. After spending weeks learning, networking, trying new things and shadowing my co-workers, I believe I have taken big strides in being more mature and knowledgeable. However, I still have much to learn about being a leader despite the improvements I’ve made here.
I’ve learned that my previous view of simply leading a group to a task is not enough, and is not true leadership. By looking at those above me (advisors, boss, etc) I see now that leadership is much more complex. Leadership has to do with communication and trust. By forming friendships with co-workers and fostering trust, there is clearer communication between all parties, leading to a more efficient team. Leadership is also about being prepared and knowledgeable so you can properly lead a group. When a teammate approaches you with a question, it is important that one is prepared to be a leader and to give a knowledgeable answer.
In my time at Public Affairs Ireland, the staff has been amazing and trusting of me. As time has passed, I’ve been assigned more difficult projects that require more effort from me. Naturally, these tougher tasks force me to talk to more people in our organization, to ask more questions, and to learn more. Because of the tasks I’m being given and the behavior that stems from those activities, I am currently improving my ability to lead each day. Not only that, but the staff here places trust in me to be accountable for my actions and my projects. In a way, that makes me my own boss. Public Affairs Ireland is a busy company, and they don’t have time to double-check all the work I produce. By letting me know the importance of my assignments and placing trust in me to accomplish what I need, I have to lead myself to success. Also, my boss frequently welcomes my input and opinion into much of the work we do. She often asks for corrections and suggestions and opinions, putting me in a unique position to speak up and speak my mind. In a way, this is improving my leadership. It is preparing me to speak to someone in a position above me in a respectful manner so that my voice may be heard.
I’ve found it hard to accept that in a few short weeks my trip will be coming to an end. I’m incredibly thankful for the time I’ve spent in Ireland, and also the life lesson I’ve taken from living here. I have learned so much on a professional and personal level, and I am eager to take those lessons with me when I return to Pitt this fall.