After a hectic and busy month working through the case competition I feel that I have learned a great deal from my experience with the Plus3 program. Whether that experience be what it is like performing a consulting job for a company or what it is like to communicate and build relationships with those from different cultures my Plus3 experience has been a great one. I feel as if in the short span of three weeks I have learned more about teamwork and building professional relationships than I have ever before. By working with those who are familiar with a different business culture I was presented with the opportunity to see how business is conducted across the world and use that knowledge to help myself function better on any team I am on in the future. Developing this view and mindset was key for my work through the project.
Coming from the United States I was not exposed to many foreign business environments before my time in the Plus3 program and how they communicated came as a bit of a culture shock for me. For all of my previous experiences communication has been blunt, direct, and honest. There was never really and deeper meaning to what messages were being delivered and they always set out exactly what was expected of me. But working with my team from such diverse backgrounds it was a much more friendly experience where everyone played to their strengths. Everyone was working together as team and doing what was best for the team in order to deliver a final product to the client that was made with the best of our abilities. This was a sharp contrast to the cut throat projects I have been on in the past. In my previous experiences it was not so much what the team did but mostly how each individual performed. It was about out working your teammates so that you would stand out as a star of the group which created a hostile but effective environment. However, by working with my team on this case I learned that was not how it had to be. I learned how to work with my team and create a solution together where everyone was involved in the whole process. This gave me an experience with teamwork that I had not had before. Most of my previous work had been broken into sections where each member did a part on their own without much input from others but here the entire team was involved in each step. That allowed for a flow and consistency that I was not used to. Without the development of new communication skills I feel that this would not have been possible. I now feel more confident in my ability to communicate, collaborate, and work with a team than I ever had before. Communication is a skill that should constantly be developing because it will play such an important roll in any of my future endeavors professionally and personally.
Even through I was never able to meet in person with my client or team it was still important to be able to ask questions and communicate because if I were unable to do either of those nothing would have been able to get done. With working in a virtual environment communication becomes more of a challenge but also becomes critically important. If you never meet the client or have meetings face to face it can be difficult to ask every question or really get to know them or their needs . So, having the ability to build that relationship through your ability to communicate virtually becomes vital. While just sending an email or asking questions sounds simple enough it can actually be quite the daunting task in practice. I for one have always struggled with sending emails because I’m not sure if what I’m asking is important enough or worth the time to get a response. But, what I have learned over the course of the pandemic and what was reinforced through Plus3 is that you shouldn’t be scared to ask. Even though I am a believer that their are in fact stupid questions to ask, it is better to ask a stupid questions and get an answer that allows you to move forward and work, than to remain in the dark and be confused. Most people will also not mind answering any question either and will be thankful that your taking the time to think about what they are saying. Unfortunately everything can’t be figured out by just sending an email, it can be difficult to figure out how your client is feeling in a virtual setting. That is why it was important for me to learn how to gage client expectations and needs with little prior knowledge. Both these skills/takeaways will help me in any future career I enter because interaction and working with others is a challenge that everyone faces. However, I was fortunate enough to be able to develop these skills in such a unique environment and with such a diverse group of people.
Highlighting this experience in a professional interview will not only show that I have had experience but will also help differentiate me from the pack because of how unique it was. Not many people have the opportunity to work on a case with a group of individuals from so many different countries who have such unique ways of conducting business. I would makes sure to highlight this because not only does it show that I have experience it also shows that I am able to work with teams who are not only diverse but also are located thousands of miles away from me. In order to do this I would tell the potential employer about how I work as a consultant in a case competition for a healthcare company in Brazil. Then I would begin to tell them how after only having two meetings with the client we found the main bottlenecks that were impacting the growth of their company and evaluated the risks of their current plan to deal with them. I would also make sure to highlight that we not only showed the current risks or issues but also provided a solution or plan to deal with them and provided new ideas for any future improvements. After that I would make sure that they were aware that it was all done virtually with a team that I had no prior experience with and had to adapt to the differences in the way we all worked/communicated. By doing this it will show my adaptability and highlight strengths in me since it will show that I am able to overcome the challenges presented before me. This will help make me a unique applicant in the interview process and help me succeed in my future endeavors. I am grateful that I undertook the challenge and went forward with the Plus3 program because I developed skills that will help me in my professional career and met individuals who I am proud to call my friends. Even though the circumstances weren’t perfect for me, I would recommended anyone who is up for a challenge and wants to grow to go out and participate in Plus3. It helped me develop professionally and will hopefully open many doors for me in the future!