It seems like I was wondering just yesterday, “How in the world do they expect incoming freshman to do a business consulting project? I barely even know what that means!” , and now we have arrived at the end of our time in the Haller Global Honors Fellowship. When I first learned of the fellowship, I thought the idea of being able to travel to Ireland and meet and learn from real business professionals was an opportunity that was almost too good to be true. Then, COVID-19 hit the world in full force and I assumed the entire program had been canceled for the year. I was disappointed, it felt like I had missed out on a potentially instrumental opportunity in my business development. Then Tony emailed me.
A virtual fellowship? At first I was unsure whether or not it was really worth waking up at 8am (for the first time since March 13th might I add) for an experience where I wouldn’t even be able to interact with the clients and business professionals in person. However, COVID-19 has fundamentally changed the way business will be conducted. Not only did the Haller Global Honors Fellowship reflect this change, but it also provided a plethora of professional development activities that I would have never been able to partake in on my own. So, I ended up signing up at the last minute for one of the most academically and professionally enriching experiences I have ever had.
Going into the fellowship I expected to simply learn how to create and develop a consulting plan for a company. I ended up finding out that not only did I have no idea what business consulting actually was, but that the world of business extends into nearly every interest a person can have. By the end of the fellowship, I had learned about the professional expectations between myself and a client, how to form a scope of work, how to network, and even how to use my resources on campus to enrich my personal development. Throughout the fellowship I learned how to effectively work for a set amount of time and know when it’s time to call it a day. I also learned how to communicate clearly and efficiently with team members. It was important that we all knew what we were responsible for, but there was no need to micromanage each other. By maintaining close communication we were able to do our work at our own pace while still creating a cohesive and quality end product.
The most challenging part of the fellowship for me was navigating the various virtual spaces we used for our meetings and work. There would be days where I would accidentally go to Teams instead of Zoom for our morning meeting. However, even this proved useful because it forced me to create a focused and specific system for managing my daily obligations. I would highly recommend the Haller Global Honors Fellowship to any incoming freshman. Not only do you gain valuable experience, but you also get to meet other inspired and hard-working students! Additionally, the staff and faculty members who you meet over the 2 weeks are extremely supportive, knowledgable, and understanding. There was never a time where I felt intimidated to ask a question, whether it was about presentations, business, or just campus life.
I believe my greatest accomplishment from the fellowship has been following through and creating a professional Business Development Plan despite being worried about my lack of qualifications. It can be easy to prematurely give up when you feel extremely under-qualified, but the advisors and faculty at the Haller Global Honors Fellowship provided us with the encouragement and support we needed to put our best foot forward and create a product we could truly be proud of.
Overall, I am extremely happy to have gone through this fellowship. I truly feel like I am coming out of it with a new set of skills that will be invaluable to my success at Pitt and the larger business world. I do feel a bit sad to be leaving the wonderful students and faculty that I’ve been working with for the past 2 weeks, but I can’t wait to meet them on campus in the fall.
P.S. Special shoutout to Sam and Vanessa for being the best teammates!