It was already two weeks since i first arrived in the United States’ capital, Washington DC, for the first time in my life. The purpose for this trip was to participate in Atlas Corps‘ one-year long fellowship program where I would be serving as an HR Officer at Heartland Alliance International in Chicago.

At first, we had a week long orientation with Atlas Corps employees to familiarize ourselves with the professional and the cultural environment, as well as the rules and the procedures. Of course during that time, I had the chance to meet different people from different backgrounds who have come for the same purpose: to harness their skills and get the international experience to go back and apply what they have learned and experienced in their home countries, as well as benefiting the host organization in return from the accumulated experiences that the fellows posses.

We were all focused in the beginning on getting to know each other and searching for rooms or shared apartments in our host organizations’ cities. We were thinking about how we were going to manage our budgets, BUT, what we weren’t thinking about so much at that time was the “Global Leadership Lab”.

The Global Leadership Lab, or the “GLL” for short, is an immersion week that happens once every 4 months in fellows’ lives, where they attend professional development trainings that will benefit their careers, and that will develop their analytical and leadership skills. On top of that, trainings are provided by experts from the field of the topic of the training.

My first GLL was about Marketing and Communication. Experts in the field of storytelling, photography, graphic design, social media, and last but not least, Deloitte consultants where there for 5 days to give us assessment and evaluation tools, as well as exercises and group activities on planning for self and organizational marketing.

The training that was provided by the facilitators was really impressive. One of the most important exercises that stood out for me was bringing representatives of non profits that were working on developing their marketing plans, and who needed ideas to develop the strategy and the tactics for it. We were divided into Eight groups, and each group was responsible during this week to come up with ideas and to apply what we have accomplished in the sessions to present a final product on the last day, that will be graded.

Luck has it that the group that I belonged to had members from wide array of experience and background. We were given a case for Global Giving Foundation, an online platform that connects nonprofit organizations seeking individual or corporate donations, and also giving them tools and trainings to support their crowdfunding campaigns. The representative of Global Giving was impressed by our idea and by our presentation skills, but who were really astonished by our final presentation were the jury consisting of Deloitte and other individual consultants. And guess what? OUR GROUP WON THE CHALLENGE!

By winning this challenge in only the second week of a year long experience, I was hoping that that would be a sign of success and good luck of this fellowship. Still a lot of other challenges need to be conquered everyday; however!

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