Stephanie Santiful earned a Masters degree in Library and Information Studies, as well as a BA in English, and a minor in Communication. She currently works as a Cataloging Assistant and a Reference Librarian while participating in two professional associations and multiple committees. She enjoys reading, writing, and startling amounts of anime and manga.
Whether you’re a traditional or non-traditional student, you’ve probably participated in an assigned group project at least once. For many students, there are few things worse than being forced to work with a classmate you don’t know, or worst, one that you don’t get along with. While accepting the fact that you have to work in a group with your peers may seem like a prison sentence to some of us, there are ways to turn the experience of group projects into a future advantage.
One great thing about group projects is that they allow us to communicate with other students. Regardless of what you’re going to school for, communication is always the key to landing your dream job. Another fantastic thing about communication is that allows you to network with your peers. If you’ve spent months looking for a part-time job without any luck, one of the members of you group may be able to put in a good word for you at their job. They may also know of jobs that you weren’t previously aware of.
Group projects are also a wonderful simulation of what to expect in the career world. Does that one student who never pulls their weight in your group drive you crazy? Good. You’ll run into the same type of person in your first professional position. Learning how to react and respond to this type of student while you’re in school can only benefit you on the job.
One of the questions that many employers will ask during an interview is for you to demonstrate a time where you had to work with one or more people on a project, and to explain the outcome. This question can be a difficult one to answer, especially if you do not have any job experience. Group projects allow you to explain how you reacted to a past experience, as well as whether or not you learned anything from it.
Group projects require that you do things like future planning and scheduling to ensure that you reach any deadlines that you and the group have set. If you know that you can often be a procrastinator, group projects can help encourage you to stay on track. Most of us will don’t want to be responsible for someone else’s bad grade, so we are more motivated to get things done than risk feeling guilty for holding everyone back.
The reasons why group projects are necessary are virtually endless. As annoying as they can sometimes be, most of end up learning a lot about each other as well as a lot about ourselves. Learning to interact with diverse people with various personalities can help to prepare you for whatever the world may throw at you. Being able to communicate with people from all walks off life will not only make you more employable to potential employers, it will also make you a better person overall.
The next time your professor hits you with the dreaded group project, don’t spend the next time minutes thinking about how much you don’t want to do it. Instead, make a plan of action. Think about how you can work the group project to your advantage. If you’re generally a quiet person who lets others take the lead, try challenging yourself by taking on the duty of keeping the group, and the project, on schedule. If you’re often the person who takes the lead, fall back and let someone else be the leader for a change.
The best thing about group projects is that they give you the opportunity to get outside of your comfort level. When that happens, often times you discover that you are a lot more skillful than you may have previously thought.