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How I Have Been Empowered

Being an Intern at YCDI for the last two months have been an edifying experience. I’ve been exposed to systems and concepts I was totally unaware of prior to the start of my tenure.

Of all the new ideas I was introduced to, the most compelling one was the Gallup StrengthsFinder assessment system. A 30 minute, 177 question evaluation in lieu of a rapid fire multiple choice test revealed an extremely insightful interpretation of my natural talents. Now I had always had a good idea of the things I’m predisposed to but what Gallup was able to do with the small amount of input I gave to them was almost supernatural. It was as if they took my mind apart, peeled away at each individual layer and revealed the inner recesses of my persona.

The results of the test were an exhaustingly comprehensive analysis of my strengths, ranked in numerical order. Not only was it able to tell me what my strengths were, but it also explained how these strengths manifest themselves in my behaviour with frightening accuracy. Gallup didn’t stop there though, they went on to explain how I can improve upon my strengths and mitigate my weaknesses. Armed with this knowledge, I was able to execute my work with much more self-awareness than in past jobs.

During the preparation phase of the camp, our coordinator directed several “empowering youth” sessions where we learned the details of the various Gallup strengths. We learned about the various categories of thinking each strength fell under, such as strategic and relationship building. Additionally we learned how we could practically apply and improve upon our talents in everyday life. StrengthsFinder is truly one of the most powerful self-improvement tools I’ve ever come across and I will be utilising the knowledge I’ve gained from it in everything I do from here on.

Another concept I was exposed to was that of Agile Project Management. Agile is essentially a style of project management focused on delivering a project by working on and releasing small segments or modules of it over time. This style of project management directly involves the end-user as developers of the product rely on consumer feedback all throughout the development process.

A characteristic of Agile management that I really enjoyed is that teams working under a project manager are given plenty of autonomy in how they work. This may lead to a more proficient development process as a team member may come up with a way of doing something that never would have crossed the project manager’s mind.

The most emphasized characteristic of Agile is continuous adaptation, purveyors of Agile management are masters of the contingency plan; one must always look for the most efficient and practical way of accomplishing tasks that further the development of the project. Even if this means changing your original plan or aspects of the project itself. In terms of DAB Summer ‘17, agile management was utilised in a myriad of ways during both phases. During preparation after us volunteers were placed in our various teams, we were given free reign in how we organised the activities our teams would be responsible for.

During execution we came up with contingencies whenever a particular activity wasn’t able to go ahead the way it was originally planned, with little or no intervention from our coordinator. This created a culture of constant involvement as most of us were emotionally invested in the outcome of the activities we had organised.

Another noteworthy concept I was introduced to at YCDI is the theory of the dipper and the bucket. This theory posits that each of us has a metaphorical bucket and dipper. When we say or do things to increase a person’s positive emotions we fill their bucket and our own bucket simultaneously. If we say or do things that decrease a person’s positive emotions we dip from their bucket and our own as well. This is a concept which really stuck with me as we often downplay the effect our words and actions have on people’s feelings. I will be applying this concept in my everyday life from now on as the world more than ever needs positivity.

Interning at YCDI has definitely been the most enriching employment endeavour I’ve ever done. My perspective has been broadened in more ways than I expected and this experience will serve me very well in the future.

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