It has been just about a whole month since arriving in Dublin and I am still struggling to come to terms with how fast time has been flying by. I have finally gotten into a routine during the week, taking the same bus every morning and leaving at the same time to embark on my walk home to get some exercise in for the day. I’ve continued to explore different parts of Dublin, seeing new sites and meeting new people. I have enjoyed my time at work so far, and a couple of my writings have even been published in the paper.
If I have developed both personally and professionally thus far, it has been in the realm of leadership. Prior to this internship, I have held a couple of different leadership positions at school such as chair of the women’s club basketball team and assistant philanthropy director for my sorority. While I certainly had to be a leader to succeed in these roles, these positions were extremely collaborative, and I did not often make executive decisions on my own. In each instance, I had a team or committee whom I worked closely alongside with assessing problems, making decisions, and consequently achieving our goals. Oftentimes, I have been timid and apprehensive to speak up in fear that my ideas would not be accepted. While I don’t have any sort of ‘title’ within my current internship position other than ‘intern’, nevertheless, my former view of leadership within the workplace has been challenged for the better.
As previously mentioned, as an introvert, I have often been hesitant to speak up for myself in any regard, whether in normal social environments or the workplace. I originally imagined that I would come into work, be given assignments, and quietly complete those assignments. I figured that if I came into work on time each day and completed what I was expected to, that would be efficient. However, as I’ve mentioned in past blog posts, this has not been the case. My expectations at work are unclear each day, as I am not given explicit tasks to complete. I never know what to expect heading into work each day. I have been forced to alter my point of view and what I had originally thought would be my strategy for work each day. As a result of my challenged perspective, I have embodied a new type of leadership that is proactive, almost making me question if I would have recognized myself in the past.
First, I have been forced to take the initiative and speak up for myself. This was out of my comfort zone and very difficult to do from the beginning, but each day it gets easier to ask questions regarding my expectations. My communication skills have improved as I have learned that it is only up to me to advocate for myself. Just last week I was tasked with writing a 900-word piece but only made it to 600 words before quite literally running out of elements to speak on. I was hesitant to let my colleague know, as I believed my work was not up to par. However, I spoke up, explained my writing, and he understood, telling me it was still well done.
Additionally, I have gained increased accountability for myself, but also others. There have been a couple instances during which a supervisor or colleague had mentioned discussing a certain piece of work or describing a task to me at a certain time, but when that time came around, it never occurred. I have been able to approach my supervisor and colleagues, inquiring about these things and reminding them, as an advocate for myself.
Just this past week, a new intern began working in my office. Since I already completed two weeks here, I was tasked with showing her a few things. I described the entire back end of the website and explained how to tediously upload each news article to the website for digital subscribers. Doing so made me realize that I should be more confident in my abilities, as I clearly knew what I was doing enough to explain it in detail. I have seen a great improvement in my communication skills as I have been able to show her the ropes of the organization, despite only being here for 3 weeks myself.
All in all, these past 3 weeks have shown me that I am capable of success and capable of being a proactive leader. I have strengthened my skills of communication, confidence, accountability and problem-solving. I truly believe that these skills will assist me professionally later on, should I encounter a similar workplace environment, but also, personally, as the confidence I have gained has helped me in more than just the workplace sector.