The main lesson that I will be taking with me this summer is the importance of building and maintaining relationships. Philosophically, I have long held the belief that what matters most in life are the relationships we build, but now I have seen that professionally the same holds true. To my delight, this was reinforced by one of our partners on the ground who states that “the human connection has lead to the success of the projects.” While I have known that relationships depend on what we give of ourselves, it was never more evident that through this internship. Throughout this internship I saw both extremes and I truly believe that the outcomes reflect this. I will take with me the life lesson that reciprocity is not only something that exists in the personal realm, but also in the professional. Thus, I will never forget the passion and enthusiasm that all of our partners on the ground have showed and the open hearts and minds that they welcomed us with.
Another wonderful lesson that I have iSTEP 2011 to thank for is how truly diverse working cultures can be. It was fascinating to be caught right in the middle of two wholly different working cultures. ‘Globally dispersed’ has taken on a whole new meaning. On the one hand we had hard deadlines and meetings that started no more than three minutes after they had been designated. On the other we had lax meetings where people trickled in to meetings as they were able to make it and personal topics would naturally arise. Another example is sometimes we had multiple meetings in a row leaving no time in between to talk, while at others, team members would linger and talk about nothing in particular. This was truly a one of a kind experience that only an internship like iSTEP could offer.
Lastly, I have learned the importance of being selective. I learned this lesson not only through my own experience, but also through my colleagues’ and our partners’. As my brother in law has often repeated “Haste produces waste” and I found that this is a very practical lesson to apply to technology as well as personally.