6 Tips for Networking From an Introvert

Photo: themuse
Photo: themuse

Scenario: you get an email inviting you to attend xyz event. You won’t know anyone there but you know you should go because:
1. Interesting things will happen that you’re actually interested in;
2. It’s a great way to meet like-minded people;
3. Opportunities are still built on a foundation of who you know and who knows you, so you got to play the game to be in the game;
4. It’s summer season for TV in the US and there’s nothing else to do on a Thursday night.

If, like me, your initial reaction is a feeling of immense dread, heart palpitations, and imagined scenarios of accidentally spraying a VIP with food when you speak, then I have some tips for you that I’ve learned along the way after pulling off the greatest con of all time*.

I have fooled others into thinking I am an extrovert.

Life of the party. Witty small talker. Fantastic dancer (maybe not).

Truth is, I am an introvert. I prefer small groups, one-on-one interactions, and then being able to unwind with a book and a glass of wine afterwards. I just practiced being an extrovert.

The beginning of my transformation began with a Roman summer in 2014. Jet lagged, but still fresh faced, I was at the beginning of a six-month internship. It was only as I stood lost at the front of the work cafeteria that I realised it had been a long time since I was the new kid on the playground. I had to re-learn how to make friends, and fast, because gelato for one is just sad.

As such I present to you the playbook.

The Playbook Vol. II : Suit up. Win friends. Be awesome**.

1. Fake it til you make it!
That’s not to say you should lie about yourself and introduce yourself as Thor and tell everyone about the time that you saved the world. As Neha’s mum says “If you tell the truth you don’t have to have a good memory”. You might forget which world it was that you saved.

However, you can pump yourself up and imagine you are Thor, and carry yourself like Thor. Imagine his sense of confidence, and mimic it. Just don’t try to speak like Thor.

2. Arrive on time
This tip is purely tactics. Think about it, it’s an introvert’s worst nightmare to walk into a crowded room and have people look at you and then turn back to their groups. All the while you’re left hovering near the entrance unsure as to where/how to proceed.

However, if you go by the informal observational statistics that nobody arrives on time, you therefore have better odds of controlling the scenario. If you’re there first then the next person to arrive has to talk to you. Otherwise they look like a jerk, and so would you if you don’t talk to them. This is not exactly a hostage scenario, but it kind of is. The less people there are in a room, the more likely they will have to talk to you. Just don’t forget that you have to talk to them too.

End result, by the time the room is at capacity, bumping with awkward introductions, you’ve already made alliances and have someone/group to talk too, with the smug realisation that you’re not the awkward person who just walked into the room. Though you should be nice and invite them into your conversation.

3. Make medium talk
Small talk is awkward, and as the name implies, small. It often fails to give insight into a person, and bonds are more tenuous. The idea behind medium talk is that it enables a more insightful level of conversation, and can leave a greater feeling of satisfaction of having engaged in a meaningful way with another person. This article explains it with a bit more depth.

The advantage of using a medium talk approach at networking events is that it can help to get conversations flowing, and leave a greater impression on the other party.

So next time, instead of flailing for topics after the typical “what do you do?” question, try asking others like “what brought you here tonight?”, or perhaps “What’s something you like that most people don’t?”.

For better ideas have a trawl through this Reddit post “What kind of questions would you ask to make medium talk, instead of small talk?”, and post your suggestions in the comments below!

4. Know who you are
As we’ve established, you’re not Thor. Though you might pretend to have the confidence of Thor. Just superimpose that sense of confidence onto your own persona.

To do that, you need to work out who exactly you are, and what it is that you are known for. It’s the 101 of reality TV, bring your own brand (BYOB).

Example: Amanda Taylor, witty blogger by day, gelato aficionado by night (seriously guys, if the gelato is icy in texture, it’s ice-cream. NOT GELATO).

5. Power pose
This one is my favourite. Watch this youtube video on power posing by social psychologist Amy Cuddy. The theory presented is that “standing in a posture of confidence, even when we don’t feel confident — can affect testosterone and cortisol levels in the brain, and might even have an impact on our chances for success”

So shake your tail feathers out, get your Wonder Woman pose on, and then go work that room like the queen/boss that you know you are.

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6. Say ‘yes’ to every invitation
Because, practice makes perfect.

So the next time you’re standing at the precipice, wondering if you dare say yes to a networking event, or anything else that scares you, I hope these tips will help to provide you with a shot of courage to say yes and to take that leap.

As the saying goes, you’ll never, ever know if you never, ever go.

I’d also love to hear your tips for networking, or medium talk suggestions below.

*Not all claims are based on fact.
**Not endorsed by Barney Stinson

 

The net value of authentic networking

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If I had to sum up in two words the ‘key’ to networking and communication within my experience of the development sector, it really is as simple as be yourself. Believe me I both know and hate how cliché that sounds, but as my mum (and many others before her) have told me time and time again if you tell the truth you don’t have to have a good memory. Well as someone who absolutely does not have a good memory this quote has always resonated with me as a reminder of the true value of authenticity.

I often feel as though ‘networking’ carries this underlying feeling of immense dread, particularly with students. I distinctly remember when I first began the MIDP program being invited to numerous networking events. In my head I pictured this to be politely making small talk with older people in suits, while simultaneously staring down the waiters/waitresses carrying trays of mouth-watering appetisers, boy was I wrong!

In 2015 I was selected as one of eight students as an intern for the Monash University Global Discovery Program, launching in New York. In the pre-departure briefing it was drilled into us that a key part of this program would be to expand our networks. We were after all spending our days meeting with people in key leadership positions across a variety of organisations, ranging from the development, finance, media, technology and political sectors.

To say I was nervous at our first meeting with Katherine Oliver, a senior principal at Bloomberg Associates is a gross understatement. In the words of Eminem my ‘palms were sweaty, knees weak, arms were heavy.’ However within the first five minutes my nerves had subsided. Katherine opened with a statement about her childhood and how one small but humorous experience shaped her life perspective and thus career trajectory.

There were two learnings I derived from the way she communicated with us. Firstly, small though Katherine’s childhood analogy may have been, it almost humanised her, despite her status as one of the most powerful figures in New York, and this was vital in creating a comfortable and relaxed environment. Secondly, the importance of using personal narrative to engage and leave a lasting impression.

Upon returning home the eight of us were invited to a high profile alumni dinner. On my table I was the only female and the youngest by approximately 30-40 years. I will admit I expected nothing more than moderate small talk or to largely be ignored. Again, boy was I wrong!

Being the ‘youthful’ guest I was somehow able to capture everyone’s attention through divulging my own personal narrative and particularly decisions and life experiences that had lead me to pursue a career in the development sector and landed me in New York for the internship.

We went from awkwardly nibbling at our bread rolls to each sharing stories of the past, highlighting key life events, vividly describing hilarious family stories and thus creating an open, social and informal environment, where we were really given the opportunity to learn about one another on a personal and professional level. What’s better? A good 8-10 business cards were exchanged that night, solidifying professional relationships.

Although certain situations may call for it, networking doesn’t always have be rigid and formal. The key is to assert your emotional intelligence and identify ways in which to ‘break the ice’ with your counterpart to really keep the conversation flowing. Also don’t forget to leave something tangible, whether that is a business card, linked-in add or the all-important follow up e-mail to guarantee you’ll be a face and name that won’t be forgotten easily.

I want to draw back on the idea of ‘authenticity’ in communication, a notion often undervalued in professional contexts, at least I feel it is. How many times have you heard the phrase ‘this is a strictly professional environment’ and how many times has that made you fearful of doing or saying the ‘wrong thing.’

My question is who defines what exactly constitutes as professional communication, and is our current interpretation of this concept necessarily applicable in all contexts. Does it always have to translate into stiff and awkward behaviour, and a competition to see who can best impress prospective employers and hand out the most business cards?

Don’t get me wrong, by no means am I suggesting you down as many of the available alcoholic beverages as possible and proceed to rambunctiously intrude on each and every conversation, giving everyone a friendly ‘slap on the back’ (yes I have seen this happen). What I’m trying to get at is once you’ve built rapport with the person it’s okay to drop the front, there’s nothing wrong with staying true to yourself. In fact people are often drawn to you when you’re more relatable and exuding ‘good vibes,’ and believe me this doesn’t happen when you’re feeling pressure to impress and put on a ‘perfect’ front.

My mentor once told me, something that stood out to her when we first started communicating was the honesty and vulnerability in the way I spoke, the way I would reference personal life experiences explain my perspective and detail what I want to do and why, and in her opinion not afraid to constantly ask questions (truth be told I was a little afraid haha..). She constantly reiterated that if I remember nothing else as I navigate my way through this sector, to retain that open and honest communication in all my personal and professional interactions. This goes to show, the way in which I communicate, something I’d always assumed would be my downfall is in fact something that she believes is integral to one’s journey within the sector.

I hope after reading this, you have to some degree seen some value in my mum’s favourite phrase- If you tell the truth you don’t have to have a good memory. Yes, I truly do believe this applies to networking and communication in the development sector.

Neha Patil
Creative Advisor

Four things to think about when you think about poverty

Across the Mekong River
At first sight, this could seem an image of poverty, but if we were able to zoom in and look closely, we would find so much diversity, knowledge and nuance. “Across the Mekong River”, Feb. 2016.

What images come to mind when you think about poverty? Those images carry some reality, but they are also charged with political discourse, academic knowledge, misconceptions and judgement. More importantly, they have been painted with the brush of context, or in other words, your experiences. What I would like to do here is to add more “paint” to the pictures; give you a few other brushes that may help you to bring poverty from Pollock’s abstraction to the rich and dynamic compositions of Van Gogh. For those with experience in international development, the following points remain to be basic premises/debates within our field.

 

1. People living in poverty are, first of all, people
This is the first thing to remember when you think about poverty. Those TV commercials where a kid from Africa is starving and surrounded by flies, or an indigenous woman is begging, can fool us into assuming that we “see” and understand poverty. After all, we experience discomfort, compassion and sometimes we may even donate money to the advertised causes. However, seeing the deprivation may make the obvious invisible: people with less resources still have real lives. They have common and unusual interests. They feel ashamed, offended, disappointed, proud and, yes, happy.

Sometimes they live close to you (not necessarily in a third world country or another town). In Latin America, for instance, they may just be across those walls that separate the rich from the poor neighbourhoods. Also, people with scarce resources are knowledgeable. After all, education is not only experienced in school and not all who are poor are left without the opportunity of acquiring a formal education. What I am saying is that there are not “poor people”, rather there are individuals that experience poverty.

 

2. Everyone deserves the opportunity to better themselves
The previous statement has a second and important implication: lives have worth. This premise is a moral compass for development practitioners, although a contentious issue for those who see life as having intrinsic value (worth on its own) or instrumental value (leads to something else). Terrorists, can be argued, share an instrumental view on life since the violence they perpetuate against others has ‘political or social objectives’ (Butler 2002, p. 3). Pro-life defenders may identify themselves as those on the “intrinsic life worth” spectrum. I do not mean to focus or support any of these arguments, I merely suggest that poverty is not an intrinsic human condition, and everyone deserves the opportunity to better themselves and pursue happiness.

Ruthless business practices illustrate just one way in which human lives become a secondary matter and where opportunities for the most vulnerable are barely existent, or even considered. In India, for example, the change from organic to high-yield cotton seed production has been heavily promoted by Monsanto (multinational corporation), and supported by the government. This has lead to mounting debt as farmers are forced to buy Montsanto’s seeds in order to sell their crop. Eventually, overwhelmed by the debt and dishonored, they take their own lives (thousands have). Cultural expectations weigh on the farmer’s’ decision, but even if the suicides stopped, families would remain hungry and fearful for their livelihoods since few alternatives remain. One such alternative is to migrate to cities and sell their land at a loss. Furthermore, the new seeds do not necessarily increase cotton production in the region and the land is becoming infertile (for more see the documentary work of filmmakers Nandan Saxena and Kavita Bahl). The transformation of the agricultural industry seems to obviate that lives are at stake.


3. Poverty is created, and is a wealth issue
Poverty has always been present to some degree, but throughout history men have designed the conditions for wealth exacerbation and extreme deprivation. An article by Co-exist (Fast Company) provides a deeper explanation of these issues, but what should be highlighted is that colonisation was the first international process from which richer nations were able to extract wealth from poorer countries to alleviate their own lack of resources and grow economically. The ways in which wealth is unfairly distributed today are more complex.

Although debate exists around this topic, it cannot be denied that how we create and manage wealth impacts and defines poverty. This is why eradicating it by 2030, the first objective of the UN Sustainable Development Goals, is an effort that has to come from and be directed at a grassroot, governmental and international level. Hopes remain though, because if we can create the conditions for poverty, we can also design a world without it.

 

4. Poverty reduction is a shared responsibility
International development practitioners usually become researchers or field practitioners attempting to understand how the most vulnerable can be empowered through diverse approaches and become agents of social change within their contexts. Yet, professionals across all areas have to consider their role in this fight against poverty. How are we in our own areas worsening or improving the lives of our communities, or conditions in our environment? From protecting and ensuring the rights of new employees as the CEO of a startup enterprise; to lending your accounting skills to a selected charity, or advocating for refugee issues awareness, all are valid strategies and ways in which we can contribute to reduce/eradicate poverty.

So I leave you with these final questions which I hope will add some more colour to your paint:
Do you think all human beings deserve to experience a basic level of comfort for the mere fact of being human? What do you think this would entail? Please leave a comment to share your answer or any thoughts in relation to this article.

Reference
Butler P, 2002, ‘ Foreword: Terrorism and Utilitarianism: Lessons from, and for, Criminal Law’, Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology, vol. 93, no. 1, DOI: 0091-4169/02/9301 -0001

What’s your grind?

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Here we are in Vietnam, in the small village of Di Linh. The past couple of days have been very busy, and the two young boys arrived again to pick me up at my little hotel. We start the morning by a small roadside food stand eating ‘pho’ as breakfast and planning the activities of the day. We then jump onto motorcycles and ride along the chaotic highways of the village just to arrive at another house for the first interview of the day.

I came to the Di Linh with the intention to study the coffee industry, one of the biggest agricultural industries in Vietnam and the world. Di Linh is the home of several coffee farmers who are responsible for large amounts of coffee production in Vietnam. Coffee, no matter how small a grain looks like, represents the second most traded commodity globally, and is one of the most loved and consumed grains. The passion for coffee around the world inspires me, and for the last few years, I’ve developed a keen interest in understanding the trends associated with its production, distribution and consumption. The story for the producers, is however, saddening.

Vietnam happens to be the second largest exporter of coffee in the world, and farmers here share similarities with coffee farmers in the world who are mostly of indigenous heritage and owners of a few acres of land. Coffee is their primary source of income and most family members participate in its production. However, conditions associated with production and sales make it difficult for them to afford their basic needs.

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In the last few years, Vietnam has attracted giant coffee roasters and processing companies such as Nespresso and Kraft. It appears though that coffee farmers have not benefitted enough despite these companies making significant profits. Put differently, coffee production is booming in Vietnam but for the farmer, it comes at high costs. Coffee farmers in rural areas, in an attempt to meet up with the growing demand for coffee, become vulnerable to environmental hazards. Exploitation of resources in order to meet the growing demand of the world has left these farmers with terrible environmental consequences that worsen their livelihoods.

‘Observing the life of coffee farmers, they appear to be in an endless poverty cycle with no way out. This phenomenon is almost identical everywhere; penniless coffee farmers, profiting brokers (intermediaries) and coffee roasters. The only difference between Vietnam and other coffee-producing countries is that coffee in Vietnam is pretty new’

In countries like Mexico, my home country, things are no different. A few years ago, National Geographic reported, how a fungus known as “la roya or rust” has been killing coffee plants across the major coffee producing states of Mexico and other countries in Latin America. Consequently, coffee production dropped by 70%, and this exacerbated issues of poverty for coffee farmers. Further, climate change issues and unfavorable trade agreements have negatively affected the welfare of numerous indigenous people farmers.

Limited government support to small scale farmers, the lack of sustainable practices, vulnerability to environmental changes, and lacking technology and technical support all present coffee farmers with significant disadvantages. The vast majority of coffee farmers depend (without choice) on intermediaries or ‘brokers’ offering prices for coffee which do not benefit the farmers. These challenges perpetuate issues of poverty.

Perhaps, about one in two people reading this article consume coffee. This suggests that we can make a difference. As consumers, we carry a huge responsibility. We need to be aware of the products and the brands we purchase. By opting for sustainable coffee and fair trade brands we can help coffee farmers out of poverty and preserve the environment. We can make a difference.

Between a rock and a hard place: gaining “experience”

Amanda

When first assigned this topic exploring internships I was originally going to share my experience as a policy and communications intern with U.N. humanitarian agency, the World Food Programme. For me, it is what I retrospectively refer to as a ‘turning point’ in my life. I met amazing mentors and lifelong friends, and I gained an insightful introduction to humanitarian response and development work and the skills to get me started.

Whilst there is a perception that an elusive U.N. internship is prestigious in a number of varying ways, which I believe is dependent on the perceiver’s value hierarchy, it is also thought of to be exclusive. It would be presumed that the leaders in human rights and equality would practice what they preach, however for many students, the reinforced system of unpaid internships for experience and/or credit points by the U.N. is financially unattainable.

I was fortunate that my placement with WFP is one of the few agencies that pay interns a monthly stipend. What this translates into real terms is that each month I could use the money to either cover my rent, or pay for all of my other living expenses. This meant I needed to be armed with a decent chunk of savings, and some financially-able supportive parents.

All in all it costs to intern at the U.N. and to contribute to ‘the fight against hunger’. Was it worth it though?

Heck yes.

But thinking beyond myself, what does this mean for the sector and the type of professionals that will be able to work in it. It’s often a hard pill to swallow because it can feel as though I must justify why my lottery ticket for life should not be a part of what defines me as a person, but I recognise that I am privileged. I come from Australia, a politically stable (despite past years backroom dealings) and wealthy country. I also live in what is ranked as the most liveable city in the world, Melbourne. Furthermore, my parents were able to realise their efforts and be fortunate to reap the results of their hard work by being able to send my siblings and I to a private school.

I represent a common face at the U.N., and it is the type of face that despite all of the other aspects that I might bring to the table is exclusive to other deserving, intelligent, and passionate students who would contribute much to our ambitious shared goals of alleviating poverty and promoting equality.

So where is the root of this issue? It’s hard to define, as there are various aspects which must be considered.

Supporting academic learning with practical learning is important in ensuring students are ready for the professional world. How students can gain this experience is often by volunteering or interning.

The difference between volunteering and interning can be akin to splitting hairs, and can be dependent on the provider. With an internship however, there is a growing requirement that these roles provide relevant tasks that will help students to practice and develop skills appropriate to their course. This requirement leads to the question that if one is interning for skills development, and not volunteering for altruistic reasons, how should one be compensated? Organisations would argue that compensation is through the opportunities that interning with them provides; networking, experiences, skills etc, the resume padders.

In a sector like international development and humanitarian assistance where field and international experience is a criteria, this means that interns often must give to the role more than they may equivalently take away. Most of all, like many of the criticisms of the international volunteering practices, the outcome of unpaid internships is a reinforcement of power hierarchies that favour those from developed countries.

Following global headlines about a 22-year-old intern from New Zealand living in a tent in Geneva because he couldn’t afford to pay rent, direction of fault was indicated by UN officials stating that responsibility lay with the General Assembly to reverse the rules regarding the non-payment of interns. As many of us are familiar with, seeing such changes made through the G.A. will be glacial.

However, organisations such as the U.N. are not the only players with influence on this issue. Universities, who are increasingly competing to prove their global credentials encourage the uptake of internships, offering course credit for such experiences. There is are two sides to this particular coin. Many internships, from the U.N. or others require that applicants either be attending or have recently graduated from a university degree, and/or must be able to receive credit.

Universities benefit from students successfully undertaking such placements as they can promote their relevance and connection to the job marketplace to prospective students. They also benefit from the fees they charge students for a course they do not even teach.

If internships are often limited to those attending, or have recently attended university, and such placements can receive course credit, and universities have a vested interest in students undertaking such experiences; then arguably they should also help address the issues of inequality. Yes, many offer generous scholarships and grants, which go a long way in covering the cost of undertaking an internship, however they do not often cover the additional costs of the course fee.

This may be a whole other kettle of fish from a university standpoint, and it can be argued that students would be paying that fee regardless if its an internship unit or otherwise.

Although universities are helping to address issues of accessibility through financial support, and should be highlighted, grants and scholarships offered are often not applicable or attainable to all students undertaking an internship. In some cases, support is limited to citizens from where the university is based. Furthermore, not every university is in a position to provide significant support to each student. As such, how much of the burden should be placed with universities?

Perhaps, at the end of the day the argument comes back to the added value that interns do provide, and “a fair day’s work deserves a fair day’s pay”. Everyone learns whilst on the job, an intern no more, and no less.

There’s a simple solution, though it may be lengthy to achieve through the General Assembly, and that’s to recognise the value of interns with compensation. Further, justifying unpaid internships based on students benefiting by receiving course credit, well we students pay for that too.

How to Get the Real Experience Abroad

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My summer internship began back in March 2015 when I applied for the position of Fiji Partnership Manager with the Socio-Economic Engagement and Development club at Monash University (Monash SEED). A student-run club that aims to create social impact through different means such as microfinance. The primary responsibility of the position was the creation of a brand new international project, and involved constant use of basic communications technologies, such as email and Skype, that served as a liaison tool between Monash SEED – and the South Pacific Business Development (SPBD Fiji), the largest microfinance organisation in Fiji.

By selecting this project as my internship, I came to realise that working cross-culturally was going to be challenging. However, I felt confident in my capabilities to not only become experienced with the role and responsibilities of being Fiji Partnership Manager, but also of achieving leadership skills that the role required. And the first step to achieving that was to recruit my team.

At the beginning of semester two, I recruited four enthusiastic undergraduate students. They were always patiently waiting for updates of the partnership with SPBD Fiji. However, things were going slow. One week, the SPBD Fiji General Manager would email me saying to go ahead with the partnership, and by the next week there would be no response at all. I tried to communicate through other means like Skype messaging and phone calls, which only on certain occasions worked.

The role of project manager was challenging: shuffling work between two organizations, and motivating my team, while trying to stay positive waiting for responses. I quickly came to realise that the role was not as easy as I had originally thought. Anantatmula (2010) explains how important the role of the project manager is. A role which involves planning and executing strategies while being able to lead a team. I wanted to do all those things. However, sometimes I felt discouraged, thinking that probably the General Manager was not taking me seriously and that the team members, faced with all the uncertainty, could change their mind and quit at any time. I had to tell my team that I was trying to do my best to make the partnership work, but in case that these efforts were not successful, that they should consider starting to look for other internships or activities for the summer. In the end only one of them decided to part ways with us, the rest patiently waited for further developments.

It was November 2015, two weeks before the semester ended. I was preparing to have an important Skype meeting with the General Manager that week and I was feeling nervous. During the meeting we arrived at the conclusion that we wanted to be part of a project that involved going into the field and help SPBD processes while making a real impact on the women (members), which are the main reason why microfinance works. Then we brainstormed other project topics, from updating manuals, helping with administrative tasks, to improving financial education lessons. We concluded that SPBD needed to know if the members were satisfied with the services provided. Finally, we came up with the idea of creating, conducting and analysing data of a member satisfaction survey.

I realise now that even though I had the means to create a partnership with SPBD since we started the e-mail and Skype arrangements back in July 2015, it was important to have a clear understanding of what the particular objectives and goals of the stakeholders involved. It took me a few months to finally design a project that would benefit all of the stakeholders. Certainly, I learned how to communicate with both my team and the organisation in order to deliver the expected results.

We arrived in Fiji at the beginning of January. A team composed of two undergraduate students with backgrounds in arts and finance, and myself a Master of International Development Practice student. We had two weeks of preparation in Melbourne. Preparing the members satisfaction survey, talking with customer service experts and also arranging accommodation among other travel preparations. Everything was approved and on time. I knew that we were going to surveyed 100 SPBD members, visit a few villages and travel with field officers. All these things required some logistics arrangements which, according to the General Manager, had already been prepared. However, I was a little concerned about how everything was going to turn out. I remembered how things had been very uncertain just a couple of months before. I recalled the time it took just waiting for an e-mail response, and how that made me feel, as though I was not being taken seriously.

Finally, our first day of internship arrived and I was very excited. My team and I waited in a conference room until the General Manager arrived. The first thing that I discussed with him was establishing a sample group. I knew that it was the largest microfinance organization in Fiji, however I was not aware that SPBD had branches in four predominant areas all over the country. The new information changed our perspective of the project in general: we decided to change the sample group to make it more accurate. We changed our entire schedule, which required us to travel by bus from Suva to Sigatoka, Lautoka and then by boat from Suva to Savusavu, Taveuni and Ovalau.

Fortunately, my team agreed to travel and cover the unplanned expenses. We all knew that in order to reduce any bias in the results, travelling to all the branches to survey its members was essential. We went back to the hostel, very excited for the days to come working in the field. I felt very lucky on having an amazing team, and I felt like I was doing a good job as a Project Manager.

During my summer internship, I have been exposed to a wide-ranging array of people, ideas and culture. It certainly gave me firsthand experience on working cross-culturally. The role offered me practical insight into the workings of a real world microfinance institution and its impacts in development scopes. Gaining knowledge and skills, such as team work, time and budget management, and ability to negotiate and delegate. Proving a strong awareness of the position between both of the organizations, I have initiated, developed and maintained an effective partnership between them, associated groups and external agencies and individuals.

For those seeking internship placements, my suggestion to you is this: Have you considered contacting organisations or institutions and proposing a project? You don´t need to wait for the perfect internship position to open up, you can begin a partnership with a simple e-mail or Skype meeting to discuss a project that could benefit both… And just be patient.

Reference:
Anantatmula, V S 2010. Project Manager Leadership Role in Improving Project Performance. Engineering Management Journal, 22, pp.13-22.