End of the Road: Haller Edition

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We’ve finally come to the end of the road. This year’s Haller Global Honors Fellowship is officially done. I had no preconceived ideas as to what the fellowship would entail other than working with an international company. Yet, as I reflect on the experience, different thoughts come to mind. 

First, I have to point out that this year’s fellowship was drastically different from those in years past. As we all know, we’re living in the time of a global pandemic. There was no going to Pitt’s campus for two weeks to acclimate to the University and the city. There was no traveling to Dublin or touring Ireland. There were no on-site company tours or in-person interactions with international executives. 

Instead, the eight other Haller fellows and I were fully immersed into real-life consulting roles for a Dublin-based call center franchise in a span of two weeks. It required dedicated time, effort, and coordination despite doing and presenting everything virtually. Most of our days were spent online together from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Afterwards, we would individually spend time researching, writing, and compiling work for the next day. All of the fellows are business honors students, a designation bestowed on us because we were exceptional high school students. This fellowship allowed us to prove our mettle as the intelligent, hardworking, collaborative, and creative business people that we aspire to be in our future careers—before we even stepped foot on campus as college freshmen! 

I thought I had solid communication skills when I finished high school. However, the fellowship took these skills to the next level when the dynamics changed and we did everything online. I’ve played tackle football since I was six years old. Listening to and understanding what coaches are saying, confirming and relaying plays to my teammates, and even watching the physical tics and cues of my opponents to anticipate their next moves are what I’ve honed over the years. In the virtual world, you see people from the waist or shoulder up and you’re digitally up close and personal. It’s hard to hide anything when people are less than three feet from their screen. I was doubly prepared with my material and I had supporting material readily available. Being clear and confident were even more important than before, and I became more cognizant of my facial expressions.    

With the fellowship came a lot of terms used in the business world that I had never heard of before, e.g. best practices report, deliverables, etc. For our client, we had to create several best practices reports which ultimately became the deliverables that were presented to him at the end of the fellowship. I quickly learned that a best practices report was pretty self-explanatory and that creating one basically meant highlighting and analyzing a company’s “best practices.” I personally created a report that analyzed three companies, what steps they took to succeed, and then compiled a list of recommendations for our client using that research. As a prospective finance major, these new terms and type of research are something that I will inevitably encounter again, and the fellowship allowed me to get some preliminary experience before seeing them in the classroom. 

The final presentation to our client was a genuinely fulfilling experience. It was gratifying to know that he appreciated our work and will look to implement our suggestions for his company in the future. Just knowing that our work was impactful to him was definitely a great reward from the fellowship program. Ultimately, each day of the fellowship brought new experiences and people into my life which I’m grateful to have had.