As this semester now comes to a close, so does the International Consulting Project for 2021. I am very grateful for the experience and connections that I have acquired through my participation in the project and know that my time spent here will pay dividends for my working life in the future. Alongside the experience, I have definitely learned a few key lessons. The first of which I would say is to be comfortable outside my comfort zone. I have never worked with an international client, and while Caras con Causa is in Puerto Rico, they are still separated from mainland United States. Therefore, their environment and struggles are much different than ours. Learning to understand an environment and put myself in Caras’ employee’s shoes helped gain a better “international perspective,” on business related issues and made for a great learning experience. I now feel comfortable working with entities from all around the world, and know that the project served as a good stepping stone for the future.
Secondly, I have definitely learned how to provide high-quality deliverables with little information. This strengthened my ability to put bits and pieces together, and use my critical thinking skills to reach a solution. The ability to problem solve with minimal information can also be considered an important transferable skill that I learned throughout this project. Not only will this help me capitalize on my knowledge with future projects, but it will also allow me to think quickly on my feet in all situations in life. Whether work related or not, there is definitely a great deal to be said about someone who can use their imagination, creativity, and experience to provide perspective to a problem. In this project, alongside other deliverables, my team and I were tasked with creating a budget and potential pricing package for Environmental Science students who would be traveling to the LabCom site under Caras. To create this, we used a few numbers we were able to receive from Caras themselves, and also researched prices for other fees relative to their geographic location. We were able to use limited info and our skills in order to make something relevant to the organization.
Caras con Causa is an organization that has been working with the University of Pittsburgh’s departments through multiple facets in the last few years. My group and I are a part of the Spring 2021 consulting project, however, the project was actually started in 2019, with a ten-year plan goal for project continuation. However, university relations with Caras predate the consulting project by a few years. Many professors within the environmental sciences department as well as the study abroad office have been in touch with Caras and laid the groundwork for a strong relationship with the organization. Additionally, our group was able to get in touch with those who have worked with them in the past, and they were able to provide us with information on the organization and some of the projects our University has done with them in the past. Treating clients well can never hurt, and at the end of the day we are all working to provide the highest level of work that we can. Having these relations fostered by the groups and individuals before us has made it a whole lot easier to work closely with Caras.
On the topic of working closely with the organization, I really admire the work that Caras is doing for their community. The initiative set forth by the organization has already had an impact on so many students and hopefully will continue to do so at higher volume in the future. I would reference this experience in the future when talking about my past experience in the consulting world and how the project helped me define my career path. In a professional interview setting I would mention that: “I was fortunate enough to be selected for the project and worked with a group of four other Pitt Business Student Consultants to develop a pricing plan breakdown, organize a virtual speaker series highlighting our client, and provide new ideas to draw further interest to the organization. Throughout the project I was able to learn teamwork, communication, and accountability skills that I carry with me to this day when working with a client in any space.”
Going forward I think the three most important things for groups to keep in mind when entering the project are to keep an open mind, communicate well with your team, and be prepared to adapt to the projects changing goals/initiatives. One thing that I took away from this project is that there is a need to understand what you will be doing in the project, but then to also understand what can be done in your specific year’s project given the resources provided. For our group the biggest thing that was taken away from us was the ability to travel. However, we compensated by increasing our communication with the organization and department heads at the University. Due to not being in person we had to somewhat adapt what the project’s goals would be and capitalized on the virtual environment to align that with our deliverables, among the biggest of those was the development of the speaker series. Overall, there was a great deal of skills and experience that I took away from this project and would definitely recommend it to my peers in the future.