While working on the Pitt Business International Consulting project this semester, I was able to expand my professional experience and skills. I have been able to work on tasks I never imagined I would be professionally involved in, like searching for international grants or event planning. I have also noticeably improved on so many skills such as time management, problem solving, and communication. Researching and developing our deliverables for CEOLI took longer than we expected. Through every step of the process, we faced many competing pressures such as other classwork, clubs, the pandemic, and much more. Balancing all these factors along with the pandemic has made me become much more efficient. Time management and being able to handle multiple complex tasks at once is an absolutely crucial skill in the workplace, and I know these skills will be helpful in my internship this summer and further on in the future.
Working in an online environment has its own challenges and benefits but staying engaged and on-track over zoom is difficult. Not being able to have any face-to-face time with my group members, clients, or project supervisors pushed me to be a better communicator. Alongside the typical struggles or coordinating hectic schedules, I’ve also realized the different approaches to group work and how to best work through these differences. I learned that even if you prefer to approach work with a divide and conquer mindset, not everyone else in your group will particularly want to work that way. When this happens, both sides must compromise and mesh their work styles as much as possible. Everyone has their own unique preferences, and it is important to remember to accommodate everyone as much as possible.
Additionally, this project has taught me the importance of building a close and trusting relationship with your client. Pitt Business already has a strong connection to CEOLI, as they have been working closely together to maintain the study abroad program to Bolivia for many years. When I learned that Amizade would be the “middle-man”, I was not sure how much our group would truly be working with CEOLI themselves but was happy to learn that they were equally involved. Amizade was an amazing resource and helped us to better understand our client and their needs. Unfortunately, due to the pandemic, we were unable to visit them in-country like previous groups, but this may have actually had a positive impact on Pitt and CEOLI’s relationship. Even without the opportunity to travel abroad, Pitt Business still had a group of students who signed up to participate in this project and were excited to work with them. We understood the effects of the pandemic and wanted to help CEOLI in the best way we possibly could, which is reflected in the quality of our work. Hopefully next year’s group gets the opportunity to visit CEOLI in person and continue Pitt Business’ partnership.
Although my interview was before the final completion of this project, I actually did bring this project up. When talking about my extracurriculars, I mentioned that I was working on a consulting project for a nonprofit client. I gave a brief overview, then proceeded to explain what my role in the process was and what new skills this experience has given me. I also gave a few examples of some of our major successes and failures in the project, and anything I would have done differently. This opportunity is incredibly unique to Pitt Business, so employers are very interested in hearing about what we are working on. Multiple people I interviewed with were intrigued that a group of twenty-year-olds were working on an international grant search report and planning a virtual art show for an organization in Bolivia. Just to show how great this opportunity really is, I spoke a lot about this experience in my interview with my dream company and ended up getting the internship!
My biggest take away for future groups would be to make sure you fully understand what your clients’ needs are and what they expect from you. Keep in mind that your scope of work is what the basis for your deliverables and relationship with your client! From Friday-morning Bolivian folk dance classes on zoom to our final report and presentation, I have loved working with CEOLI. I not only feel much more self-assured in myself, I feel much more confident moving into a professional setting and working for real clients. I am very thankful for this opportunity and am looking forward to applying everything I have learned in the future.