I wanted to get on this blog post and write about the amazing week I had, but this week I was sick and had a lot of downtime. I struggled to get my work done and had to take the week off of work to recuperate. But, after I started to feel better, I managed to have one really nice day in Berlin. I went to a lake about 30 minutes away from the city to soak up the sun and spend some time in nature. The lake had a good-sized field on a hill that was perfect for sunbathing. Then, you could enter the water at any point around the lake to swim. It was so cool how lax and free the environment was, you could swim, tan, and relax anywhere you want around the lake. Swimming in the lake was definitely the best part of my week. Then, after we cooled off in the water, we went to have a drink at a restaurant that was on the lake. People would just jump right from the porch of the restaurant into the lake. It was definitely different from anything I had experienced in the States. After we got back from the lake, we went to Neukolln, a neighborhood in Berlin, to see an ongoing arts festival. Over 100+ places around the neighborhood had various art, music, and food installments to show the best of local artists. My favorite installation was in an apartment square. About eight people were singing out of their windows while playing the guitar and tambourine. Many people crowded the square and looked up to listen to these people sing. We just stumbled upon this event on our way to the subway, and it was just so cool. Berlin definitely has a culture of arts and freedom that is very refreshing compared to the US.
Before this internship, I do believe that I had a distinct leadership style that I believed fit me best. Back at Pitt, I was the fundraising chair of the Asian Student Alliance and I lead a committee of 8 people. This process was definitely a learning curve for me and it defined how I decided to lead going forward. I believed that being strong in your expectations and boundaries was a sign of being a good leader. For example, communicating what you wanted, what was expected, and what was needed would lead to success. But, that wasn’t the case for me. Even though I told them what I wanted, my committee members didn’t feel comfortable enough to speak up with ideas or questions. I realized that I needed to allow more of a sense of independence and satisfaction among my members to create a good environment. After my year as fundraising chair, I moved on to the position of Business Manager at ASA, an upper-board position. In this position, I realized the importance of keeping these boundaries and expectations, but also taking a more hands-off approach. I provided my fellow board members with what I needed and left it up to them to complete it in whatever way they wanted. I stressed that these tasks were up to their discretion and their decisions will work the best for them. Of course, I will always provide all of the information they might need and always answer questions. I think that I found the most success in my leadership through this approach, and therefore this is my current leadership style.
While I have not personally led any group of people during this internship, I have watched my supervisor lead me. At the beginning of the internship, I felt confused about what my role was at the company and felt that my supervisor wasn’t very clear on my duties at atip:tap. But, after I spoke to her about how I felt a little lost, she said that she was willing to meet with me every week to delegate and talk about the tasks I wanted to do that week. After we started doing this, I began to feel way more confident and comfortable in my work. I really appreciated that she understood what I was saying and actively changed her leadership style to help me. Because of this, I have learned the importance of listening to the people you are leading. While you might know what you want as an end product or how exactly to do a process, the people you are leading might not. Taking the time to listen to others not only makes others feel a lot better about the work they are producing, but it is also easier and more rewarding for the leader. I will definitely be integrating this into my leadership style so I can help the most people.