Surviving the Group Project

We all know that going to college is meant to prepare us for a career in a field that we love. The subjects you study and the skills you learn all depend on what major you decide to pursue. But there is one thing professors and future employers look for in all students: soft skills. These skills include effective communication, a strong work ethic, accepting criticism and keeping a positive attitude. The group project was invented to put all of these skills to the test in an often difficult, time consuming and sometimes stressful assignment. Working in a group is very challenging, but you can follow these tips to help keep you and everyone in your group happy and stress-free (for the most part).

Listen, Listen, Listen.

A big part of group projects is getting together and brainstorming. Everyone is going to have a lot of ideas, and you might not like some of them and they might not like some of yours. But if someone comes up with a not so great idea, do not immediately shoot them down. Let them explain themselves and listen to all they have to offer. A great way to give everyone a clear picture of all the ideas is to make a poster or use a white board to lay out your thoughts. Once everyone has written out their ideas, you can combine them or remove them accordingly to narrow down the pool. But remember, you have to discuss your decisions with the whole group. That way no one will feel like they were unable to contribute to the final plan.

Utilize Google Docs

Keeping all your materials in order and making sure everyone is up to speed can be difficult. Google Docs is great because it lets you have all your documents and presentations in one place. Every team member should have access to the document and be able to add stuff as they work. You can access the document from anywhere, so if you decide to go home for the weekend you can still keep up with your project. When your whole team is together, delegate one member to keep track of what you accomplish and post it on the Google Doc. If someone does miss a meeting, they can check the document and see what they missed. Using Google Docs is very easy, and it will save you the trouble of trying to include everyone on an email.

Be the Bigger Person

If you played sports in high school, you can probably remember times where your teammates frustrated you or completely disregarded you. Incidents like this happen in group projects as well and they can be difficult to deal with. Keeping your cool is of the upmost importance in these types of situations; it is better to express your issues calmly and collectively instead of freaking out and causing drama. If someone has a problem with you, take the initiative to seek them out and ask what their issues are and how you can both work to fix them. If everyone in the group enjoys being together, it will make the work and final product that much better.

In addition to these few pointers, it is important to remember the common sense stuff: exchanging emails and phone numbers, setting up a schedule with deadlines and always completing what you have committed to do. With all group projects, and in life, there is one golden rule: treat others as you would like to be treated. If you are cooperating, communicating effectively and working hard, your group members will be more apt to do the same. You will participate in many group projects throughout your college career, so use your soft skills to make the best of them.

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Caitlin Furin

Caitlin Furin

Caitlin Furin is a senior at the University of Wisconsin-Madison majoring in journalism and strategic communication. With an interest in social media, she can often be found exploring the Facebook walls, Twitter feeds and Pinterest profiles of big brands. Her laptop and iPhone never leave her side. Outside of school and work, Caitlin can be found enjoying a good TV show or two and spending time with her friends and family.
Caitlin Furin

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