It seems this virtual journey is coming to a bittersweet end. Bitter to see it end with how fast it went by, but sweet to see all that we’ve accomplished, in my group as well as the rest of the groups. As I reflect on my time in this program, I realize just how much I’ve learned and grown through this experience.
Like I said, I’ve learned many things in the past 12 weeks but my key takeaways are that accountability and communication are essential. Of course, these are two things that I knew before beginning this program, but this program has shown me more about accountability and communication than I’ve been able to learn from other settings. First is accountability, which I see as the sustained commitment and perseverance to seeing the project through. Working in a group over this long of a time span forced me to be fully accountable for my part of the work that I was committed to do. Being committed like this requires perseverance, something that was also practiced through this program. Things don’t always go your way when consulting or working on a project like this, for example, we did this all virtually! We also faced times when we either weren’t sure what our client wanted from us or they wanted more from us than we could provide them. Persevering and not letting times like these push us off track was crucial for getting everything done. Second is communication, something that I’ve come to realize is so much more important than I thought before. I knew from the getgo in one of our first sessions with Amizade that this project was going to require a lot of communication, especially in this virtual setting. But, whether virtual or not, if you do not communicate with the group you are in or the client you are working with, it is near impossible to get any work done.
While I would consider accountability and communication as both lessons as well as transferable skills, probably the most important transferable skill that I’ve developed is my creativity. This project has been the first real challenge in which I’ve been able to exercise my creativity in a while, and I’m very grateful for it. Creativity is also something we had to especially utilize because we were not there in person. Caras con Causa has not been able to be fully operational in the past year or so due to the pandemic, so as an organization they didn’t have much more to give us to work with than last year’s group had. This forced my group members and I to think outside of the box and come up with ideas like a virtual promotional speaker series, a potential study abroad program, and short term social media recommendations. Fortunately, creativity is something that I will need a lot of in my future career in marketing which is why I’m glad to have had this opportunity to work on it.
Another key aspect to completing this project was our relationship, not just as a team but also with Caras. Relationships are truly the foundation of consulting. Having a conncection between the client and the consultant so that the project, transaction, or whatever it may be is effective is what it’s all about! I would say we had a good relationship with Caras coming into this which absolutely worked in our favor. I think that there was a foundation of trust that they had in us which is why they trusted us to provide them with the ideas for the speaker series and the academic program. In terms of other deliverables, I think the work that was done for Caras from previous groups at Pitt was very beneficial to our completion of the project. They had provided us with a basis for the surveys for us to begin to send out which was very helpful. What is also great about our relationship with Caras is that there is only room for improvement. I believe that Caras as an organization is only growing, and continued help from my group this year and groups in the future only seeks to help that.
Considering all things, the lessons I’ve learned, the transferable skills I’ve developed, and the insights I’ve gained on relationships, leads me to what this project means to me moving forward. It has been a noteworthy experience that I now have to refer back to both in general and in professional interviews. Strictly speaking, in an interview, I would describe this project as one in which my group and I supported a non-profit in Puerto Rico with creating attraction to, and developing a pricing package and marketing kit for, their new community laboratory. But in terms of what I got out of it, I would speak upon the teamwork and communication skills I practiced in this trying virtual setting as well as the creativity I exercised to get the work done. Overall, I would pitch this experience as my first real world experience, which is exactly what I wanted it to be coming into this program.
With the conclusion of this project, the baton has been passed to whoever the future group of students working with Caras will be. With that, I have some advice and things to consider. First, purely from a deliverable standpoint, I strongly urge the future group to continue to work on the virtual speaker series and semester long academic program. These programs truly have potential that needs the right development. Second, and probably most importantly, is to be flexible. It is better to be on your toes and face the challenges that come your way throughout the project than to be firm in your ways and thrown off when there’s a wrench in the plan. Not that it’s a bad thing when challenges arise, but they do, and if you go in flexible and prepared, you will always be able to work them out. My last piece of advice is to not be shy. For many students, like myself, this is our first real world experience in consulting. Be confident when you have ideas to share because you never know how successful they might be if you don’t try. And don’t hesitate to communicate with your group members and your client, trust me – it’s for the best. I wish all the best for Caras con Causa and whoever the future group of consultants may be. I know that I have grown personally and professionally from this project, so I know future students will too. I am honored to have been able to participate in this program and can’t wait to use this experience moving forward.