Before COVID-19 I planned to intern at Mercer in Boston to gain exposure to the finance industry. Thankfully I was able to secure a spot in this virtual program. My internship program titled Sapere Aude Consortium taught me about relevant issues in the finance industry and allowed me to work on a collaborative team to further develop my leadership skills. The Consortium was founded by three retirees from the finance industry to create a meaningful experience for students who were not able to secure a concrete internship as a result of COVID-19. These individuals along with 17 undergraduate students set out to learn more about the industry and create comprehensive viewpoint documents that would outline a current issue and consider our unique approach to mitigate the problem.
Throughout the program, my mentor Joe demonstrated effective task leadership as he actively defined our roles, scheduled meeting, and monitored our progress on the project. He planned weekly meetings with our team which allowed us to better understand our personal responsibilities and practice effective communication. He demonstrated his comprehensive knowledge of the finance industry and gave us helpful insight to apply to our project. At first, analyzing the large problem of the Wealth Gap seemed like an impossible feat. He assisted us in breaking it down to one main result of the gap – student loan debt. Throughout the first few weeks, we decided to focus on the outrageous amount of student loan debt and its connection to a flawed system of higher education that is extremely expensive and often blocks individuals of lower financial status.
This program wouldn’t exist if not for the pandemic so completing it remotely was expected. Weekly educational, group and one-on-one meetings proved to deliver industry insight and help advance our project. I found the meetings to be extremely informative as we learned from industry experts and career advisors about how to proceed in the job search and establish personal goals. Group work presented a level of difficulty as it was challenging to stay on track with other students. Our mentor assisted us in organizing responsibilities, and we divided up sections of the project so we could each focus on specific content areas. I would have preferred to meet with group members to discuss the breakdown as it was difficult to assess exactly how much progress each team member made between meetings. If not for Joe and his impressive task leadership, our group would not have been able to clarify the focus of our project nor would we have met the integrated deadlines throughout the program.