How many times have you been asked about your ability to work collaboratively during an interview? I can confidently say that I’ve been asked about it during every one I’ve ever been through. When I moved to Detroit post-grad in September 2015, I took a full time serving job to occupy my time and pay bills while I searched for a job in my field. I had served throughout college and, despite the flaws and stressors of that line of work, truly enjoyed it. Though working with the public isn’t always pleasant, I always ended up with awesome co-workers who made serving fun and the work easy. Whenever I answered interview questions about teamwork, I drew from my experiences in serving. Partially because it was all I’d ever known, and partially because I believed that type of teamwork to be totally relevant.

And yet, the idea of working collaboratively with my fellow fellows was at the top of my list of worries as we dove into our first official challenge of the year. As I spent more time with the fellows and got to know everybody, I began to question the relevancy of my experience working on a serving team. How would I measure up against my incredibly smart and passionate teammates? Those who had already been previously working in their field? The grad students and non-art majors? The outspoken leaders and the Detroit natives? Challenge Detroit is a melting pot — and a melting pot of extreme talent and intellect, at that. When they announced our partners for our first challenge, I was grappling with worries about how the group dynamics would be, how I would measure up and what skills I would have to contribute.

team-1It. Went. Amazing. I couldn’t have asked for a better team to kickoff my Challenge Detroit year with. Was every moment calm, balanced and flawless? Absolutely not…but, was every moment productive, meaningful and worth it? Absolutely. In fact, when prompted to discuss what could have gone better during our challenge debrief, my team struggled to find something that we believed needed serious improvement. We were on cloud nine about the results of our project and over the moon that we had our first challenge under our belts.

In the end, my nerves were all for nothing. Our group dynamics were amazing. I felt completely equal to my teammates — largely because we all encouraged each other and recognized good, hard work when we saw it. I had all of the skills necessary to make my mark on the project, too. They really opened my eyes to how great working on a team can be.

I am so proud of the work we did. Each of us had something unique and important to contribute to the project, and I’m amazed by their hard work and dedication. They’ve set the bar high for my future teammates. I have yet to discover if having such high expectations will work for or against me as I continue along my journey with Challenge Detroit this year…

Team #1, you’ll have my heart forever!