It’s been four years since I worked as team leader for the Institute for Cultural Communicators (ICC) 2015 intern team. A blink of an eye or a lifetime, depending on how one looks at things. Still, as I reflect on this experience—the things I did, the people I worked with, the skills I gained, the ways I grew—I realize just how much I learned, and how relevant this experience is to whatever field I find myself in.
In my role as team leader, I was directly responsible for a team of ten interns, ages 18-21, who wrote, designed, prepared, and rehearsed a three-day public speaking conference for students K-12, all in eight weeks over the summer—then hosted this conference in ten cities across the continental United States.
What were the hard skills I used in this role?
- Scheduling/time management
- Project management
- Public speaking
- Writing/editing curriculum
- Designing flyers/handouts
- Zoom, Google Drive, Google Hangouts
What were the biggest ways I became more valuable over the course of my employment? How did I measurably improve?
While my team worked on-location together in a residential setting, we were part of a much larger intergenerational team, most of whom worked remotely. It was my responsibility to coordinate communication between my team and off-site team members, often through Zoom or Google Hangouts. We also utilized Google Drive extensively, to share documents and collaborate in real time. Working with remote teams meant that organization and clear communication was a must.
Prior to my taking on the role of team leader, much of the content created by previous intern teams was unfortunately lost or misplaced from year to year. There was no system for gathering and organizing the dozens of class syllabuses and presentation scripts into a central location. This meant that each intern team started their year from scratch, reinventing the wheel. I created a simple solution involving Google Spreadsheets that allowed my team to organize and index their work. This allowed any team member to access any document at any time, speeding up communication and increasing efficiency. Further, this spreadsheet could be passed on to future teams, allowing them to build off previous material rather than starting from nothing.
What were the most valuable things I did for the company? What about my role was most impressive and how can I illustrate that so my employer can see my work in action?
One of my primary responsibilities as team leader was delegating roles and responsibilities to the interns based on their strengths, as well as editing the curriculum they wrote to ensure that each class met stated objectives. Further, I edited and coached dozens of public speaking presentations. Ultimately, this involved a lot of administrative work, coordinating details and managing schedules to maximize efficiency.
My team was one of three that lived and worked together in the same space. Not only was I responsible for my team, but I worked with other team leaders to create the house schedule, to ensure that all our teams had the time and resources each day to succeed. This involved coordinating a lot of moving parts, evaluating priorities, and making adjustments to the schedule in real time as unanticipated projects arose.
Why am I more employable because of this experience?
I interned with ICC in 2014, writing classes and presentations of my own and hosting conferences with a different team of interns. I was familiar with the organization and their processes. Yet stepping into the role of team leader allowed me to hone an entirely new set of skills. Overseeing the process of creating a replicable conference experience from idea to finished product in eight weeks taught me focus and project management. Working with intergenerational, remote teams honed my verbal and written communication skills. Creating daily schedules geared toward productivity taught me the value of effective time management.
Delegating tasks, creating schedules that work, managing project timelines, and adapting to the unexpected are skills I’m excited to bring with me and expand through future opportunities.