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Throughout university, with all of the individual projects that you do, you learn that you as an individual are able build some pretty neat things on your own.  And if you were like me, completely dread any sort of team work.  This of course was because of the fact that team projects in university typically ended up with one or two people doing all of the work (which in my case was normally me).  This was a great learning experience for me but it also scared me a little about working on teams.

When going into my first job out of university I was going to be put on a sprint team, I entered a little hesitant, but being right out of school I knew I had a lot of things still to learn so I was all in!

I joined the team as a Junior Software Developer, the team I was on consisted of both several Seniors each of which had different specialities.  I was excited!  Not only was I given the unique opportunity to work with people and actually choose what area I was going to specialize in.  At the time, I didn't know what I wanted to specialize in all I wanted to do was code, and learn along the way.  That is exactly what I did.

The team that I was now on worked way more efficiently than I could have ever imagined.  But not just that, the collaboration and actual team work that went on was amazing.  Through design and implementation discussions and working with various members of the team, I was able to learn skills that would help me to excel at my career.  This was all due to the fact that on the team, everyone was able to check their egos as the door.  Had this not been the case, well, the experience and lessons learned would have been significantly different.

However, working in teams can also be a huge challenge.  There are people who always like to be heard and have their stuff be built the way they imagined it.  Situations like these can end up leading to poor decisions because the best work that comes out of a team is work that is built through a collaborative effort as it does the following:

  •  satisfies people's desire for their opinions to be heard
  •  combines the experiences of everyone involved to get a much better solution 
  •  promotes further team work and collaboration

One thing that you always have to remember when working in a team is the fact that every member of the person of the team is a person just like you.  So remember to treat them that way.  The team will work more cohesively if everyone is given the same respect that you would like to be given.

In conclusion, teamwork does not need to be as painful as it was in group projects throughout school, yes it can be, but it can be a very fruitful and fulfilling experience depending on what you put into it!

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Some of you may know this about me already.  But for the last 4 years, I have been an active member of Toastmasters.  Through their program, and just putting myself out there in a calm supportive environment, I was able to break out of my shy shell and become a much more active communicator.  But confidence is not the only that that it has given me over the years.  Over the years I have taken on several executive roles at our club in order to help out.  This includes:

  • Sergeant at Arms
  • Vice President of Education
  • Mentorship Chair

While there, I found out about a program that I never knew existed.  It is called the “Youth Leadership Program”.  It is an eight-session program which is free for teenagers (from ages 12-18) to attend.  During these sessions, they learn a bit about leadership as well as improve their communication skills in order to boost their overall confidence.

Over these 8 sessions, each Youth Leader is required to complete 2 speeches and 2 evaluations.  But these are not the only things that they will be doing during this session.  Each Youth Leader will be encouraged to participate in Table Topics (speaking off the cuff) and take on other roles, in order to gain even better experience.

This year, IcePets is partnering with Brampton Toastmasters as a sponsor for two of these programs.  The first program has been already been scheduled for August 8th - 12th, and the second will be planned out later on in the year.

Looking back, I personally wish I had known about and actively participated in a Youth Leadership Program in the past.  I managed to work my way through University and the first few years of my career with being that quiet individual that knew a fair bit, but wouldn’t share it unless asked.  However, thanks to Toastmasters, I was able to break from that mold which has helped me to excel in what I do.

Last April I had the privilege to be the co-ordinator for a Youth Leadership Program and it was such an incredible experience.  The Youth Leaders amazed me from the very first day!  Everyone started off very  quiet, not really wanting to talk even amongst themselves.  However, that changed within the first hour of the program and by the very end, the Youth Leaders had been transformed into much more confident presenters.

These programs are all around the world, so if you are not aware of where they may be, ask at a local library, or go on Google and look for a local Toastmasters club, they could point you in the right direction.

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