Learning New Approaches

Hi everyone!

It’s hard to believe that I only have 3 weeks remaining in Madrid. The time is flying by as I continue to do more each week in this amazing city. This past weekend, a few friends and I went to Manzanares el Real, a small town of 8000 about 40 minutes north of Madrid. Sitting on a lake right in front of the Sierra de Guadarrama mountain range, the town had many stunning views. The cover of this vlog is a picture that was taken as we hiked a 6 mile loop through the national park. A friend of mine from Pittsburgh, who currently lives in Manzanares, showed us around, and it was absolutely incredible. 

The past week at work was probably my busiest yet. It concluded on Friday where several of my coworkers and I went to an event that my company held. It was a competition among several groups of 14-18 year olds in the Madrid area. They had completed projects in social entrepreneurship and they each presented their work. It was very cool to see that these kids, some of them as young as 14, were extremely passionate about changing the world for the better. They were very interested in topics such as mental health, bullying, social exclusion, educational systems, and waste reduction. The parents of the kids were in attendance too, and it was clear that they were all extremely proud of their children’s work. 

Talking about leadership, I’ll admit that coming into college, and even during my first year, I had very little leadership experience. I was never someone who loved leaving my comfort zone, so I often avoided leadership opportunities. However, I knew I needed to change that, and this past year, my sophomore year at Pitt, I got involved with various activities/clubs and even took on some leadership roles within those organizations. I have found through myself, and others, that a leadership style in which active listening, patience, thoroughness, empathy, and other similar qualities are used, is most effective. 

In my internship, the leaders for me are mainly my supervisor, and another person in the company who I actually work more directly with. They both express great leadership qualities and I can tell they have many years of experience doing it. They also lead in ways that I am not used to, ways that challenge the qualities I have mentioned above. For example, thoroughness is something that I think is very important as a leader. In my workplace here, however, there is lots of ambiguity and there are never really thorough directions given. There is lots of room for creativity, which is a great skill to develop, but it often leaves many questions as to whether I am completing the task the way they want me to. Another example is that here, patience and critical thinking isn’t always used when making work decisions. What I mean is that oftentimes my coworkers will just jump into tasks without planning ahead of time, something that I find doesn’t work for me in my own work. Personally, I like to plan ahead of time to avoid mistakes. A final example of how one of my leadership qualities has been challenged is that active listening is not prioritized as much here. During conversations at work, you will always be talked over and sometimes it may feel that your point has not even been heard. These are just a few little differences that have been the most challenging for me, but overall I know it will open my eyes to new approaches. 

As a result of this internship, I am becoming a better leader in that I am expanding my knowledge and viewpoints in many areas. Becoming more open minded will allow me to be a better leader because I will be able to apply concepts in new ways that I had not previously thought. In addition, and most importantly I believe, I will become a better leader in that I know what it feels like to struggle. I have no doubt struggled at various moments in my internship, whether it is the language or a specific task. Seeing how my supervisors are able to work with me and help me understand things is something that I am picking up and can use in the future when I am the one leading someone who is struggling. I am learning so much from them and will undoubtedly be able to apply my knowledge in my next leadership position. 

See you all next week.