At the beginning of this program, I really did not know what to expect. I knew I was equipped to handle the workload. However, I was nervous about the cultural “fit,” and if I would be able to perform at my companies expected level. Nevertheless, I continued with the program and has an amazing experience filled with cultural and professional development.
During my internship experience, I was fortunate to have been paired with BIS Oxford Economics. BIS Oxford Economics is located in Sydney, Australia, and provides market data for other companies while also offering consulting services. When paired with BIS Oxford Economics, I was elated because it matched my professional career aspirations of financial consulting very closely. While participating in this program, I worked very closely with a team in Australia to complete our overall assignment. The assignment tasked was a consulting project with an Australian client related to the rail industry. This client wanted to know more about other countries’ successes and failures with their railway industry’s implementation and operation. Throughout my placement, I helped with the research, analysis, and brainstorming of the consulting project, which would then be delivered to the client.
At the beginning of this program, my knowledge about the rail industry was scarce. I had a very baseline understanding of the industry, which prompted some additional research at the beginning of the program. Although this information was needed, I found myself applying more of my academic coursework experience from the University of Pittsburgh into the comprehension of the industry. I approached each country as its own separate case-study related to the rail industry. Then I performed multiple detailed SWOT analyses related to the operational efficiency of each country. In the end, while information about the rail industry was needed, the ability to be able to comprehend and work with this information is what guided me through the research phase of the project.
Through my experience, I was able to develop key transferable skills which I know will apply to future professional experiences. The first skill is the ability to analyze large plots of data and find meaning. When my team originally embarked on this consulting project, they were given large plots of data. This data was not standardized and included multiple formatting errors, including duplicates with varied formats. By going through this data and comprehending its foundation, I was able to separate the valuable data form the skewed data to use for this project. Even though this took hours to perform, I know that I was able to develop my data collection and research skills.
Moreover, I was able to develop my cross-cultural team working skills. Through the duration of this team project, I had to be proactive in managing the deadlines of the group with the time-zone difference. Although this caused problems at first, I became more self-driven and culturally aware of my delegated tasks. With business becoming more global at a rapid pace, I know that my experiences working in this cross-cultural setting will benefit me in the future.
Looking back on my experiences, I know I was challenged to adapt to a new working environment and working culture. Having worked in the United States my entire life, I had become accustomed to a high-contexts culture working style. However, my supervisor pursued a more low-context culture setting, where I had to become self-motivated to complete tasks. This shift in the responsibility of my supervisor to me was stressful at first. Thankfully, through the Global Internship Course and my prior experience at the University of Pittsburgh, I outlined a plan for proper time-management while remaining mindful of deadlines given the difference in time-zones.
As I look back at the internship experience, I can genuinely say that I have achieved more than expected. I was able to work in a team across cultures while helping to deliver a consulting project to high-level business representatives. I would say that my greatest accomplishment was the development of my Cultural Intelligence or CQ. Cultural Intelligence is known as the ability to relate and work effectively across cultures. Before my experience in this program, I had only been familiar with IQ and EQ, which stands for Intelligence Quotient and Emotional Intelligence. However, through my experience, I learned more about and developed my own Cultural Intelligence. This development will undoubtedly aid me in my professional and personal journey in the future.
These past six weeks have been unlike any other and have allowed my personal goals to evolve. Moving forward, I will be looking to gain global experience in my intended field of business outside of the United States. Whether these experiences are in-person or virtual is still to be determined. However, I know that my goals have shifted and have pushed me to have a more global outlook on my personal and professional journey.