My experience of Global Shapers: Generation 2014 (GS 2014), was incredibly awesome. The fact that you get to know 99 other young professionals that are just like you, with similar questions and concerns, is great. For me, the experience transported me back to graduate school, where you are exposed to so many people from different nationalities, going through the similar emotions, and you start connecting with each other, learning from each other, and wanting to know more about each other. It is a fascinating growing experience.
I began my GS 2014 trip with two young ladies, also from Puerto Rico, Isabel Sarriera and Shandra Justicia; our flight was delayed until two days later, meaning that we would end up missing a lot of activities of the Program. To save time, we ended up flying to St. Louis and then drove for 5 hours to reach our destination, Chicago. For us, Global Shapers started in that car at our way to St. Louis. I learned so much from these amazing girls, I even found myself taking notes in my head, thinking about ways to improve our collaboration between offices. Suffice to say that we got to know each other more thoroughly than if we had flown to Chicago. That trip was a sneak peak of what was to become the whole Global Shapers experience.
Listen and learn
Personally, I decided that I wanted to listen to other people’s opinions and insights, learn from them, and follow, instead of taking the lead. Since at work I am always trying to push new initiatives and taking the lead in some areas, I wanted to take this time to observe and learn from others, and be a team member following a leader, while contributing with my own ideas. I challenged myself to be on the other side, and it was a growing experience. Not that I have never been a follower, but I wanted to challenge myself, and give space to other leaders.
As an observer, I could notice people that used to be shy, or that their voices were not previously heard, coming out of their shells, and managing groups, being leaders, speaking and being heard. There is a lot of work to be done since you only have a few days to work on a specific end-product, but it was fun, and fulfilling. Global Shapers provides you with tools for your professional life and it also presents you with so many experiences in a short amount of time that you feel really energized at the end of the program. All you want to do is talk about it. I ended up so pumped up that I am still in contact with my virtual group from the beginning (Team 13 Woo!) of the program.
My message to all the next generation of GS is: Give the best of you, knowing that you are not necessarily the best, but that you are willing to learn from others, be humble. If you put something in your mind, finish it, don’t hesitate. Be positive, perseverant and passionate, no matter what other people say, you can do it. Believe in yourself, so that others can believe in you.
Gretchen M. González – ARCADIS US