While I would definitely have enjoyed the travel to Brazil and experiencing the world of our client on a first-hand basis, practicing flexibility and virtual collaboration have also been important reminders of what may be to come if we do not make significant efforts to curb climate change (or even if we do).
When I initially signed up for this course, I was looking forward to the experiential learning that would assist me in my future career. I thought the consulting experience would be useful, and the whole process would allow me to practice relationship management, communication, and confidence in ideas generated from research and exploration of a problem. I was, of course, also looking forward to meeting with my client in person and collaboratively exploring the problem set before us and exploring how differences in culture affect these kinds of relationships. As this course has shifted, I believe I am still gaining many of these experiential pieces, but they look quite different than I imagined.
As climate change has a greater impact on every day life, these kinds of changes, and the flexibility required by them, will become more prevalent. It is very likely that climate change will mean we have to conduct a significantly higher proportion of our business online. In this case, practicing virtual consulting and virtual collaboration is one of the most relevant pieces of experiential learning I could complete during my education. I have always favored in-person meetings and communication, because I find it easier to read people and bounce ideas back and forth in order to reach more creative solutions. This pivot in our course has forced me to practice these skills through a computer screen.
My team’s client has been very responsive and helpful as we have gone through our project. He has given us regular feedback and has been regularly available for meetings. In many ways, this has made practicing virtual collaboration very easy because other aspects of this project have not been difficult. What I have found difficult, however, is ensuring that we are all on the same page and that all of our questions are asked on both sides. We have had to be very intentional about leaving time to ask questions and clarifications. While this has helped, I have still found it challenging to not talk over one another or feel that I am cutting our client off on accident when trying to respond to concerns or questions that he might have.
Flexibility is an essential job skill in today’s world. While I would definitely have enjoyed the travel to Brazil and experiencing the world of our client on a first-hand basis, practicing flexibility and virtual collaboration have also been important reminders of what may be to come if we do not make significant efforts to curb climate change (or even if we do). The experience has taught me quite a bit about what it means to be organized virtually and how I prefer to communicate within a project. As we move forward with our client, I know we’re hoping to improve and offer our client our best efforts despite our disappointment and sudden shifts.