Over the semester, I learned many valuable lessons from working on a team, communicating cross culturally with our clients at Caras con Causa in Puerto Rico, and dealing with slight hiccups on the way to developing our final deliverables. One of the most important lessons I learned was how to be flexible navigating through an unknown environment with a group of people I was unfamiliar with. After our first few meetings I started to get to know my group members and we started to familiarize each other with our strengths, and weaknesses so that we could figure out the best way to utilize the different abilities that each team member brought to the table. I could tell right away that our group was disciplined and truly interested in working together to accomplish our goals. I learned that it doesn’t matter what the problem is that is trying to be solved, with the right group of people and a determined mindset and strong work ethic, the problems can be solved. Next, I enjoyed learning all about the Caras con Causa organization and all the different projects they’re working on in order to better their community and the environment. They are truly an extraordinary organization and I feel grateful to have been given the opportunity to work alongside them and help them develop their long-term goals of partnering with new universities and deploying a study abroad program in the future. I had envisioned that there would be a communication barrier, but it was much smoother than I thought, and we were able to ask questions until we all understood what was expected from us. Although we were unable to travel to Puerto Rico to gather important marketing materials and information about LabCom and the site in general, we were able to adapt to the situation and pivot our attention with the information we had at the time.
Two of the most important skills I’ve developed throughout working on this consulting project are leadership and problem solving. In the beginning, our group was a little unsure how to begin our project and what type of research and work needed to be completed, so I took decided to spend some extra time figuring out what exactly we needed to do and what I thought would be necessary for us to develop a successful final project. I think this was an important role to be filled and I decided it would benefit the whole group if I maintained strong communication and transparency of our expectations to my group. I’m interested in pursuing a job in the finance industry whether that means working on future investment decisions for a small-medium sized organization or doing asset management for a large, well renowned firm I think this consulting project has prepared me for a fast-paced environment where deadlines are important, and plans can change at the drop of a dime. Furthermore, although some may think working in a virtual environment was a disappointment, I think it prepared me tremendously for the real world and the way that companies will continue to operate in the future.
I think Pitt’s prior relationship with Caras con Causa made it 100x easier to seamlessly get filled in on expectations and what our group was expected to complete. Pitt’s 10-year plan with Caras con Causa enabled a sense of security from our first meeting with our clients in a sense that they already trusted that Pitt was going to provide determined, hardworking students on the project. Our advisors were essential in the process of filling in the blanks and providing feedback and recommendations throughout the semester. I was worried that we would be thrown into a project without much guidance and tasked to figure it out on our own which was the furthest from the truth. The weekly support and communication of deadlines and follow up check ins allowed our team to stay on top of the project while managing our heavy course loads for school. Our team effectively envisioned how we were going to provide value for our clients and executed our plans with the help of our advisors at Pitt Business. I think we offered some rather unique deliverables like our speaker series and the semester long academic program that will help Caras con Causa in the short term while dealing with the impacts of Covid-19 and travel restrictions. Our ability to communicate our project deliverables and offer useful information and recommendations has strengthened the University’s relationship with Caras and will allow for next year’s consulting group to have a straightforward transition into the position that ourselves and previous groups have set up for them.
This experience will definitely be a major talking point in future interviews as it is unique and will position me apart from other candidates who may not have had the opportunity to work as an international consultant while in school. I plan on explaining how this project has opened my eyes to the world of consulting and how I feel equipped to take on the next project that I find myself working on. I think the major skills that this experience has given me are effective communication within a team and a client with a different background than myself. Due to globalization, it is highly likely that I will have future clients from different cultural and professional backgrounds with whom I will have to communicate with to reach a common understanding in order to achieve our goals. This consulting project has also taught me effective problem solving and project management in a way that is difficult to attain in the classroom. We worked on real problems and developed real solutions so that our clients can continue and expand the important projects they’re working on.
For future groups I would recommend them to think outside the box and continue working towards your final goals. This project is as much about professional and personal development as it is about completing the project. Make sure that you get familiar and comfortable with your group members to a point where you can call each other friends. That way, working together will be that much easier and you will feel comfortable to speak your mind and potentially disagree with an idea that is brought up. Being able to disagree and offer your reasoning in a respectful way is a very important skill that will allow for your group to grow and achieve your goals . I would also recommend the future groups to actively participate and get to know your advisors and your clients at Caras con Causa. If you don’t understand something, ask questions. Ultimately, everyone is there to support you and will do anything to help you along the way. Meade, Arielle and Hillary are fantastic advisors and resources so don’t be afraid to ask for help.
I want to thank the Pitt Business team for giving me this amazing opportunity and I’m excited to check in with Caras con Causa in the future to see how far they’ve come.