We’ve been catching up with student volunteers who took part in the first ever LSE Community Engagement Programme, where 49 fantastic student volunteers completed a consultancy piece for 7 different charities. Today we caught up with Rhifa Ayudhia (MSc in International Social and Public Policy, 2021) who reflected on how the programme developed their teamworking skills.
I had the opportunity to join an amazingly diverse team in the Community Engagement Programme, held by the LSE Volunteer Centre. We were tasked to support an SDGs-related international youth organisation in a quest to composing a solution for students’ internet inaccessibility issue during the Covid-19 pandemic. When the programme commenced, I had just arrived in London myself while my team was scattered all around the world. One was in her home in Paris, one was in Abuja, one was six hours ahead of us in China, and our mentor was based in the Netherland. Not only that, but all of us were also coming from different fields of study. However, our team successfully won the best team awards in the final presentation session despite the differences. In retrospect, there are three key things that made our teamwork result in the dream work.
First, aligning expectations. In our first meeting, we introduced a bit of ourselves; what we do, what we are good at and what we are not good at, what we are looking forward to from the programme. We were honest about it, and it has proven to be beneficial every time we have to divide the jobs between ourselves. But not only between ourselves, but we also had a meeting to align our expectations with our mentor and partner organisation. It was an important first few steps that made us understand our own expectations as well as what was expected from us.
Second, communicating our constraints. I believe communicating constraints is as important as communicating expectations. As students, we also faced challenging weeks with our study assignments. When it happened, we communicated our situation openly, allowing the other team members to fill up the gap. Or when we got stuck on the pieces that we were doing, we openly communicated our situation and asked for others’ opinion about it.
Last but not least, respect and commitment. Finding the time that works for all of us was challenging given the different time zones and schedules, but everyone agreed to meet virtually every Sunday morning. We put the same degree of effort to make our Sunday meeting went well. Our discussions are usually concise, just enough to check on each other’s progress and discuss our plan for the next week.
I was lucky to experience my first volunteering activity with the LSE Volunteer Centre and with such great team members. When you have a team that communicates openly, respects the team’s plan, and take responsibility for their work, nothing would feel burdening but rather something you would look forward to from time to time.
MSc in International Social and Public Policy