How to Make Group Projects Work for You

There is always that one aspect of our careers or classes that we dislike and could pretty much do without.

My first two years of college it was group work. I hated it! I always felt it was easier to account for my work alone. The lack of control over whether everyone agreed on an idea, contributed equally and met the deadlines bothered me.

Then I interviewed for my first internship and answered the question that changed my thought process on whole matter: When have you exceeded expectations? I told my future supervisor about the time I worked longer on a final group project, simply because I had more availability in my schedule than my peers. Saying that aloud made me realize working as part of a team is just as much about finding a way to make it work for you individually as it is about contributing to the overall team and its success.

My last two years of college I focused on the following dos and don’ts to make the most out of working as part of a team:

-Don’t be afraid to voice your opinion/suggest for an alternative way of completing a task

-Don’t be afraid to ask questions

-Don’t bite off more than you can chew

-Do ask for extra work if you can handle it

-Do talk to teammates if you feel they aren’t pulling their weight

-Do talk to a supervisor/professor if you feel an issue cannot be resolved between you and your coworkers / peers

While a lot of these things seem like no brainers, it is easy to get so wrapped up in frustrations that you lose sight of the task at hand. Therefore, knowing your personal preferences and figuring out how to make working with others comfortable for you will allow you to contribute your very best work to the team.

The author of this article is Adrians Cleveland, who is a public relations professional from Indianapolis, Ind. Cleveland earned her BA in Journalism from Butler University in May 2010. She recently began working for the Indiana Chapter of the ALS Association. Previously, Cleveland interned for Publicis Indianapolis, the American Legion Auxiliary (national headquarters), and So Others Might Eat (SOME). Follow her on Twitter via @AdriansPR.

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3 comments on “How to Make Group Projects Work for You

  1. Very interesting article, Adrians! While attending university to complete my Bachelor of Public Relations, it was much the same thing. EVERY project was a group project, and having always rather complete a project myself as opposed to trying to coordinate tasks and schedules of others – logistical nightmare!

    Your point on open communication is key: speak with teammates if they’re not pulling their weight. Generally, they pull up their socks and sometimes even take on more work than they would normally. No two schedules are the same, and I think once you accept that, quite a beautiful project and team-building experience will emerge. -J

  2. I agree that scheduling was a big issue. It seemed like nearly everyone in my PR classes was involved in numerous activities plus work plus other classes. Looking back I’m not sure when we found time to sleep!

    Thanks for your comment!

    Cheers,
    Adrians

  3. I’m currently in my last year of graduate school, and group projects have been part of the curriculum every step of the way. Initially I disliked pretty much every aspect of group projects. However, last semester, girl in my group suggested we use this online program called Group Table. This program allowed us to create a “group” for the class, upload and revise documents into our “Binder,” allocate and assign tasks in the “Task List,” set deadlines in the “Calendar,” and the best part was the live chat, enabling us to collaborate virtually. As a full time working student, trying to orchestrate all of our schedules was nearly impossible; and then add in driving across town to get to said meeting. This program seriously made all the difference. My group members and myself still use it for our other projects because we find it so easy to keep everything organized. I definitely recommend it to anyone in school.
    http://www.grouptable.com

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