Student Voices: Jeanette Guellil
Jeanette's field experience at TEDx in Saint Louis, MO
While studying abroad in Geneva, Switzerland, Jeanette Guellil (HRTS'14) accepted an opportunity to volunteer with TEDx. TED is known widely for filming short (approximately 18 minutes) talks in order to impact the international community. TED shares thousands of its most influential and inspiring talks for free online at www.ted.com. At the local Geneva TEDx, speakers in Switzerland gave talks on subjects ranging from building schools for girls in Afghanistan to unifying peacekeeping and environmental programs at the United Nations. After returning home to the United States, Jeanette got in touch with Saint Louis's local TEDx and soon after became known as "The Intern."
Jeanette chose to intern with TEDx because the connection between the organization and her field of study seemed very clear. She thought TEDx was an interesting institution and she wanted to learn more about how it operated. She also chose to intern with TEDx because she planned to use her experience at TEDx to build skills related to event planning so she could one day organize events such as speaker series that focuses on human rights. Interacting with locals in the field helped her grow a professional network and built her local awareness of advocacy efforts, which will all help with future projects. Jeanette wanted to see how TEDx worked from the inside, particularly since she had seen how its talks could bring people together, share innovative solutions to global issues, and inspire creativity. She also felt that many conferences and educational events were inaccessible to many people in the world, especially many people suffering human rights abuses, and she was interested in learning about how TEDx was dealing with this issue.
At TEDx in Saint Louis, Jeanette participated in COCA Biz training workshops and acted as a speaker facilitator. She also had opportunities to network with social entrepreneurs who focus on human rights. She had administrative duties and received all inquiries regarding events, registration and ticketing. She was in charge of keeping guest lists organized before events and maintaining the CRM database, which stores TEDx's contacts. She also had the responsibility to organize face-to-face meetings for the team. Jeanette learned a lot from this internship about team leading, marketing, social media, event planning, and public speaking. Managing a remote team poses many challenges for its leaders and team members. Jeanette also learned a lot about effective communication, ranging from e-mails and phone conferencing to in-person meetings and various communication technologies.
The internship also taught Jeanette a lot about character and relationship building, especially in the context of a nonprofit organization with a diverse range of participants. In this unpaid, volunteer-based group, tensions rose and leaders had to appropriately manage group dynamics. Jeanette learned how to best handle these situations with dignity and grace. Her experiences at TEDx also made her self-aware about some areas that she needs to improve. She has learned how to speak up and ask for clearer instructions from supervisors, for instance, and she is learning how to delegate duties and put her trust in others. She realizes how humbling an internship can be because you are constantly aware of your small role and the bigger picture.
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