This month’s post comes from Courtney Irwin, a senior majoring in mechanical engineering with a minor in leadership development. As an LSU student, Courtney served as the Engineers without Borders (EWB) chapter president. Courtney is also a candidate for the Distinguished Communicator certification, which recognizes students that demonstrate successful use of their communication skills in leadership roles and community service.
Leadership LSU is an annual program which addresses adaptive leadership through the lens of critical issues here in Baton Rouge and the surrounding areas. This year, the Leadership LSU Class of 2015 explored issues such as race, education, modern day slavery, and crime with various speakers including Maxine Crump, the first woman of color to live on LSU’s campus, and Dr. Laura Murphy, Founder and Director of Loyola University’s Modern Slavery Research Project. Participants gained specific insight into these issues and focused on the adaptive leadership challenges that each leader faced.
I learned an incredible amount about myself over the course of the program, and was able to identify challenges in my own life and my own leadership efforts that were echoed by the leaders and by my peers in each session. Throughout my time here at LSU and in the College of Engineering, I have been in many leadership positions, whether in small group settings or larger student organizations, and have faced many challenges. Some of these challenges stemmed from my own skills or my team members’ skills, but others were much greater challenges stemming from organizational or societal issues. Being able to reflect on my personal experiences while learning about the experiences of other leaders led me to many personal realizations and understandings. Sometimes, it is important to take a step back, as hard as it may be, and reevaluate a situation.
Even in a setting such as community service where you would like to be on the ground getting work done, it is sometimes more beneficial as a leader for you to step back, observe, and develop a new strategy before getting back in the action. Reflection can also be an incredible tool for growth. I was able to identify several aspects of my previous experiences and challenges that I had not extensively thought about before, and look at them with a new perspective.
The leadership and teamwork skills that I have learned throughout my time at LSU and through the Leadership LSU program have been, and will continue, to be invaluable as I move forward in my career. After graduation in May, I will work full-time in New Orleans, La. for Shell International Exploration and Production Co. as a Wells Engineer, specifically for drilling in the Gulf of Mexico. As a drilling engineer, one works as a project engineer, interacting with people from many companies with different technical skills, educational backgrounds, and cultural backgrounds. It is very much a team position with inherent leadership because of the decisions that are left to the drilling engineers.
Many engineers are in roles with similar responsibilities and that require communication, team, and leadership skills. Be sure to make the most of the opportunities you are presented with here at LSU, both in and out of your classes. Geaux Tigers!
– By Courtney Irwin