Podcast Episode 5: Teamwork

Justin Aglio and Emma Hance of the Readiness Institute at Penn State talk about the importance of teamwork as part of being future and community ready. Then, teens involved in the Readiness Institute’s Summer Program reflect on their own experiences working on teams.

Transcript for Podcast Episode 5: Teamwork

Ashon: I enjoy working with other people. I feel like it boosts me. It helps me work more efficiently and more creatively.

Bhumika: I’ve learned that there’s people with many different viewpoints, and we have to all work together in order to come to one singular decision about what can make all of us happy and satisfied.

Jaden: I learned how to be more cooperative with people,

Kivon: and you come up with a lot of different ideas when you work in a group.

Larry Berger: This is Larry Berger at the studios of SLB Radio Productions in Pittsburgh along with Justin Aglio and Emma Hance from the Readiness Institute at Penn State. Justin, can you talk a little bit about what happens at the Readiness Institute, why it exists?

Justin Aglio: Yes, Larry. So the Readiness Institute is about community and future readiness. We enable education, industry and community partners to coordinate, collaborate, and create learning experiences for all learners to be community and future ready.

Larry Berger: And Emma, maybe you can elaborate on why it’s important. What is the Readiness Institute bringing to the world, and in particular, to the students that it interacts with?

Emma Hance: We focus on a variety of different things. And honestly, the biggest thing is really just exposure. We have students from all across Allegheny County, students from different high schools, and there are so many opportunities that exist in the area that you wouldn’t necessarily otherwise know about being able to help students get connected, see what exists here, so that we’re not hemorrhaging talent from southwestern PA and building out those networks. The students feel more connected. They feel as though they have a place where they belong, and they know that they’re always able to make positive contributions to their communities and to others around them.

Larry: Now, there are a lot of essential skills associated with readiness, and today we’re going to talk about one of them, which is teamwork. In a few moments, you’ll hear some teens reflect on the importance of teamwork. But first, let’s talk about why it’s important from the perspective of the Readiness Institute.

Justin Aglio: So teamwork is one of those essential skills that applies to everything in life, no matter if it is careers, if it is education, no matter what pathway you choose. Teamwork is so important. And we think about the Readiness Institute. We asked about five questions, Who am I? Who do I want to become? How do I get there? How will I continue to learn? And how will I give back to my community? So look at, how do I get there?\ You can’t get places by yourself. You have to have a team around you. No matter what profession you get into, you cannot do it in a silo activity. You need a team to help you and focus on the skills and the strengths that you have in order to advance society in general. So we look back at the fifth question. I just said, how do I get back to my community? Well, in order to thrive in a community, you need to be part of the community. And that’s about teamwork in the community.

Emma Hance: A lot of the times we think of teamwork as kind of this stagnant idea of you are just existing in a team, you’re working in a team. And one of the things that really helps teams be successful is finding balance. And so one of the things that we do really well, we have students, but we break the students down into smaller cohorts where these cohorts represent a variety of different backgrounds. And in every cohort and in every learning experience, every single student has opportunities to lead and also opportunities to learn. So they’re really balancing off of each other. They’re amplifying each other’s strengths and they’re helping one another learn how to improve and to become stronger, more fully formed humans.

Larry Berger: And really with increasing isolation that can occur, partly due to the still recent pandemic, partly due to the way that society continues to provide ways to isolate oneself, it becomes really critical. Also, as we look to opportunities in the future, they’re all going to require some aspect of teamwork, if not a major aspect of teamwork.

Justin Aglio: Another major aspect of teamwork is communication. And believe it or not, that’s the number one skill that any Readiness Institute program we offer, whether it’s workshops or summer program or boot camps, anything students walk away with. “Wow! I became a better communicator because I had to work in teams, I had to present in front of my peers, I had to collaborate. I was kind of pushed out of my comfort zone whether I had to get up in front of someone, I had to present something in a written format.” But communication is the number one skill, and the better communicator you are, the better teammate you are.

Larry Berger: And speaking of communication, nobody can communicate this idea more clearly than the teens themselves who’ve just completed this year’s Readiness Institute. Let’s hear what they have to say about teamwork.

Arto: I’m Arto. I went into the program not knowing anyone, and we had to work together on many different projects, and it was pretty helpful, I think, in helping me learn how to work with people that I don’t know.

Legend: My name is Legend. Being here and getting the opportunity to, like, choose who I’m working with and still work with so many different new people, it’s expanded me to, like, being more open and giving my opinion more whenever we’re doing group work.

Tanush: My name is Tanush. I really enjoy collaborative work because you get to have fun with your friends and peers. Like, sometimes there’s a joke here and there that makes bonds
closer with the people that you’re with every day.

Vaughn: My name is Vaughn. Our groups, I would say it’s very good, and I’m really glad that I’m in there because everybody just being themselves and they don’t really feel uncomfortable around anybody, so it’s really welcoming.

Kaylee: My name is Kaylee. since I go to a cyber school, it’s kind of hard to do group work because I’m alone a lot of the time. But being here, I got to meet people and I got to actually do group work like that, which was really fun. And I feel like it’s made me a little bit better with my anxiety, with talking to more people.

Tavia: My name is Tavia. Everybody is different and I’ve met so many different people in this
program. When I try out for teams in college or if I’m getting a new job, meeting new coworkers and stuff, just working together and figuring out how to interact with other people, I think is something that’s really good that I’m learning here.

Noelle: My name is Noelle. When working in a collaboration, it’s definitely more important to focus on the group values than your own. Sometimes it can be easier to come to a conclusion on your own because you only have to evaluate for your values and what you want or need. But if you’re collaborating, you can never put yourself before others. You always have to take the interest of the group before your own.

Larry Berger: Justin Aglio and Emma Hance, thank you so much for being with us today for the Readiness Institute at Penn State podcast. Emma, how can people learn more about program activities?

Emma Hance: To learn more about the Readiness Institute at Penn State, check out our website at readinessinstitute.psu.edu and follow us on instagram, Facebook and Twitter
@ riatpennstate.