Through this whole day, I’ve been reflecting upon my experience with the Pitt Plus3 Global Projects program that came to a close early this morning. It was so great to hear the presentations the other groups had been working on, as this was really the first time I had heard any of their ideas and to my surprise, there were a lot of overlaps between the groups however each team certainly had features that differentiated them from everyone else. My team, Global CBPU, was the first to present this morning. This tends to be quite an unpopular opinion I have, however, I was actually really hoping we would get picked to go first, as anytime I’m presenting I like to set the tone for the session as well as set the bar high for the other groups. Overall, I believe our presentation ran very smoothly and we were able to stay within the time limit which I was a little worried about as we would always cut it close when practicing. Hearing team after team present made me a little nervous as well as everyone truly did an awesome job and very obviously spent a lot of time and put a lot of effort into their pitches. When Marcia presented the slide that displayed the winner from the pitches today, when I saw Global CBPU’s name on the screen my heart dropped and a smile immediately appeared on my face as I felt that all of our hard work and the many hours spent on this project finally paid off and the judges were able to mirror that thought as well.
Without a doubt, I would say that this program has certainly been a journey since it started a little over three weeks ago on May 5th. It’s so odd to think that only just a month ago, we were all basically strangers, however, in such little time not only the individual groups, but everyone in the program as a whole were able to bond through learning and put together such quality end products for Senior Concierge. My team specifically grew a lot through this whole process, and in the final week I believe we were really able to come together and demonstrate how cohesive we have grown to become which was displayed to the rest of the program through our final presentation. I would say that our group definitely encountered some obstacles throughout this process, however that is something you can expect from working in any team composed of individuals who didn’t know each other when the group was formed. At the start, as mentioned in a previous blog post, we were pretty quiet and it took us a while to open up to each other. With that said, when we all finally did so, we really got the wheels turning and were able to make a lot of progress. Unfortunately, some of that progress was in the wrong direction as we were looking for and researching alternative softwares to SpinCare which was mainly due to a lack of grasping the idea of the project. Once that was sorted out through a few meetings with professors, we got back on the right track and finally were all on the same page in terms of what we needed to produce as our final product. Basically all of the other problems we had as a group were minor internal problems that go along with communication, participation, and cooperation. As for communication, it was hard to always get everyone on the same page. I don’t know if this was due to a language barrier of sorts and people not speaking up when they don’t understand something, but this problem wasn’t hard to fix when encountered; it just required some time and patience from everyone. Participation was a little bit of an issue, however, this wasn’t necessarily something we all had full control over as we are all living very different lives and have different things going on in our schedules such as exams to study for and other commitments. However, despite that, I think that as a whole we were able to make do with what we could as we would always find time to get together and meet as a group and if someone wasn’t able to make it, we would fill them in on what they missed. Lastly, as for cooperation, this was probably the least common issue we had, however, when it seen it was because of just a lack of compromise and communication between individuals. For example, one person would work on one thing and another wouldn’t agree with what they were doing, however, there was no communication as to what the “correct” way to conduct that particular thing was so nobody was really in the wrong in these scenarios.
As a group, we were certainly able to overcome every challenge we encountered and throughout this process, I believe that I’ve learned several things that will help me when working in multicultural teams as well as in some professional settings I find myself in in the future. The first is that every new team needs time to adjust and get comfortable with each other and each other’s work styles and with that comes patience. It takes time to figure out everyone’s strengths and weaknesses and so with time once those are figured out, it will allow operations to run smoother. The second isn’t really a skill, more-so an observation, but working in a team comprised of individuals with diverse backgrounds has its pros and cons as it’s great having so many different perspectives, however, given that everyone has different backgrounds, they may have learned to do the same thing differently so that also takes some time for adjusting and getting on the same page. Lastly, the biggest skill I think I will take away from this is how crucial communication is. Especially since this program was held virtually over Zoom, that enhanced the difficulties that come with communication in a team to a whole other level specially the essentiality of good communication and the ability to properly read the body language of others. Having fluid communication on a team not only helps with the sharing of other’s ideas, but also making sure you are all understanding objectives and tasks to the same level as mentioned earlier. This was a little bit of a problem at first which after reflecting upon that issue I realized that it really just highlighted the importance of communication even further. These skills and lessons will certainly assist me in my future endeavors whether it be in an internship, a job, or even another study abroad program. I’m extremely grateful that I had the opportunity to improve upon my professional skills, so hopefully, they work for me as an asset in the future rather than as a liability.
The Pitt Plus3 Global Projects program is without a doubt something I will be bringing up in any future interviews. This program has taught me a lot both professionally and personally and because of that, it is something I believe will be great to reference to down the road. If I had to quickly give a summary of what this program entailed and what I took away from it, I would say as follows: The Pitt Plus3 Global Projects program was a virtual consulting project for a healthcare company in South America. Everyone in the program was put into cross-cultural teams of about 5 members all of whom were from different countries for the most part aside from those from the University of Pittsburgh who live in the United States. We were tasked with analyzing a software called SpinCare that our Brazilian client company, Senior Concierge, was looking to adapt. Our final objective was to provide an explanation to them in the form of a presentation and written project report as to whether or not SpinCare is a good option and highlight some of the features it contains that will improve their business. Over the course of a little over 3 weeks, my team and I worked together to put together the final end products asked for, and as this was a case of competition between the different teams we were put into, we actually came away winning with our pitch. This program was certainly a journey, one that I was able to learn a lot from and take away a few different skills I believe will assist me in the future. Of this collection of skills, the ones I’d like to highlight are my ability to work in a diverse environment, my problem solving, and my overall communication in a professional setting. Working in a group composed of individuals from all around the world was something I had never done before, however, now that I have experience with it I will be able to take the things I learned that work and don’t and apply them to any future scenarios I find myself in. In addition to the consulting part of this program, we had the opportunity to hear from several companies in the healthcare industry and learn more about their work as well as having some fun lectures such as learning about coffee as it’s a very influential good in the economies of many of South American countries, especially Brazil.
As this program has now sadly come to a close, I would like to thank everyone for making it such a great experience. I truly enjoyed coming to the sessions every morning and seeing how far everyone has come with the final presentations we saw earlier today! Although I miss everyone, especially my team Global CBPU, I’m so glad I had such a great first experience with Pitt’s study abroad and I now could not be more excited for next time I get to go abroad, hopefully in the near future!