At EdVenture Partners, the partnerships we have between our stakeholders — our clients on one side, and the universities, professors and students on the education side — are so pivotal to our organization, we based our name on it. And, if partnerships are at the core of our DNA, then our Project Specialist (PS) role is the glue that holds it all together. Our PS team members are in the trenches with our faculty/student teams from Day One of a program through the final awards. Their duties include driving deadlines, answering questions via daily communication with numerous teams and individuals, and ensuring high-quality final products.
We thought it would be revealing to get a peek into the lives, professional accomplishments and colorful personalities of our valued PS employees with this blog series. Because even though EVP works hard to bring serious learning opportunities to our student teams, we are also a pretty fun bunch!
All About… Project Specialist, Paige
Traveling to 10 different countries during a Semester at Sea, teaching English in South Korea and coordinating volunteers with AmeriCorps, all experiences that make her the perfect fit for leading teams around the globe
Tell us about your educational and professional background before EVP.
Prior to EVP, I earned a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing from Florida State University and had the opportunity to teach Freshmen Composition. During this time, I learned the importance of student activism and credible research sources which has benefitted me during my work with P2P students.
Further, my international travels and experience teaching English as a Second Language (ESL) kindergarten in Seoul, South Korea have helped me relate with faculty and students from around the world. I love to learn about other cultures and this position is well-matched for my skill-sets and interests in global engagement.
After graduation from the University of Kansas, with a Bachelors in English and American Studies, I served for two years as a volunteer coordinator at an AmeriCorps member for the United Way of Douglas County in Lawrence, Kansas. This position encouraged community engagement and volunteerism which relates perfectly to our students’ work to develop hyperlocal, positive counternarrative campaigns.
Did you participate in an EVP program as a student? And if so, what’s the difference being on this side?
I didn’t have the opportunity to participate in P2P as a student, however, I did partake in other experiential learning opportunities at the University of Kansas such as the ‘Urban Plunge’ facilitated by the National Coalition for the Homeless. During this experience we volunteered in Washington, D.C. as well as spent three days experiencing the lifestyle of homelessness on the streets
Have you had any winning teams? What were their biggest strengths, or what do you feel put them over the top?
My finalists from Fall 2016 were:
- KU Leuven (Belgium) – 2nd Place
- Università di Cagliari (Italy) — 3rd Place
- OSCE—University of Ljubljana (Slovenia) — 1st place
While each finalist team has their own unique set of characteristics which make them stand out, the one similarity among all of the finalist teams I’ve encountered is a genuine team mentality and shared vision for the campaign’s mission. Teams that communicate while collaborating and develop real working friendships have a clear advantage and also appear to enjoy themselves throughout the experience. I know the program can be consuming—time and energy—and teams that support each other and cooperate tend to excel (and laugh more), in my experience.
What’s been the most rewarding part of your job?
This job is full of rewarding experiences—from the opportunity to travel to Hamburg, Germany to leading a meeting with Facebook in Menlo Park—this position has provided a wide range of exciting challenges. I think the MOST rewarding part of working with faculty and students is developing relationships and coaching teams through the P2P program process. But honestly, what I love most of all—is watching students thrive and grow after their P2P experiences and go on to utilize the skills they’ve developed to find fulfilling employment. I am so proud of the students’ accomplishments both within the competition and beyond.
What’s been the most surprising piece of your job that you’ve had to do so far? Is there anything that has come along with the role that you didn’t expect?
I am continuously amazed, less surprised, by the incredible campaign concepts students develop each and every semester. It is inspiring and motivating to see students dedicate themselves so completely to the success of their campaigns.
How far away, and in what time zones have you had teams, and how do you stay connected with them (specific tech platforms and/or just ideologies about what has worked for you)? How do you manage calls or Skype sessions in all of the various international time zones?
I have worked with teams from all over the world and from many different time zones. Honestly, it can be a logistical challenge, at some points I’ve woken up in the middle of the night to coach teams from India via Skype. Although we operate in a virtual environment, it’s important, I think, to connect at least via video chat and discuss the team’s ideas and challenges. Chat platforms like WhatsApp or Facebook can also help supplement communication in-between video conferences.
You and each of your fellow Project Specialists manage many teams at a time. Do you have any productivity or time management hacks that you’d like to share?
Personally, I believe in short- and long-term goals, to-do lists and honoring when I need a break from the screen. I tend to be somewhat of a work-horse – and there is always more to be done – but I think one thing I’ve learned is to honor when time away from a task is required to gain clarity and perspective on a challenge. Sometimes you save more time by giving yourself space from a task; at EVP we always say, work smarter, not harder, and this has taken time to truly internalize.
What’s one thing people might be surprised to learn about you (fun, random trivia, or maybe a guilty pleasure food, TV show or similar)?
People may be surprised to learn that in 2007 I sailed around the world during a study abroad trip with Semester at Sea! I was a junior at the University of Kansas at the time and the journey truly changed my perspective of the world. The trip lasts 100 days, 50 at sea, and 50 on land, and we stopped in 10 countries: Mexico, Japan, China, Vietnam, Thailand, India, Egypt, Turkey, Croatia, Spain. Students take classes while they are on the ship and then go on field trips when they are in country.