Written by: Catalina Lizarralde
I must be honest, after my final presentation it was so hard to focus the last days on really getting more work done. I had on my mind all those people I wanted to thank and get a chance to say goodbye to before I left. It is really complicated to explain, but when you are new in an office and rely so much on other people for every little thing, you come to your senses as to what “team work” really means.
How many professors say “team work is really important in the work place” or we all know the typical interviewing question “Please describe for us a time when you had to work in a team and what was your role in it”? We KNOW that team work is really important, and I honestly thought I understood what it meant, but in the office it really took another meaning.
It’s not like in school, where in a way we are all on the same level and with the same goal. Team work in the office is working with people not only with different personalities but also with different roles, interests, expertise levels, priorities, agendas, time zones, locations etc..
Team work in the office, as opposed to team work at school, means being able to shape your style to fit all the different scenarios. It is not dividing a group project into equal parts and doing your piece right and on time. It is not taking the lead into coordinating the adequate coherence of each piece when you all want to be successful in the class or the fundraising or the whatever project you are working on. It is truly working with obstacles on many different levels that are not as simple, especially when you are working in a big corporation. The bottom line is to understand that team work is more than shaping yourself to different styles, it means being truly flexible to different times, different processes, and different formats. It means being comfortable dealing with leaders much more experienced than you or even people that might need more time to understand the different components of the work. As you think of an internship, or your future as a full time employee remember how handy it is going to be for you to have the skill of truly adapting yourself to anything and anyone.. without losing the essence of who you are.