Group Projects Prepare You for Careers After College

Group Projects Prepare You for Careers After College

Why do most college students cringe when they see the words “group project” on a syllabus?

group projects in collegeSuddenly, a flood of questions come to mind. Are your group mates going to pull their share of the work? Are they going to provide quality work? Are you going to be able to coordinate schedules between five people?

In my three years at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, I’ve been involved in more group projects than I can count. At the time doing a group project seemed pointless and an excuse for professors to only grade five projects as opposed to 30, but now I see the value in group work.

All of my group meetings start out incredibly awkward. We don’t know each other, we don’t know each other’s capabilities, and if I’m being honest, we hardly know one another’s names.

The awkwardness fades away as the semester goes on and we find our rhythm. The more I get to know my group members, the more I see how each of their strengths will be useful for the project.

This is not to say that there is not conflict within the groups at some times. But, this is good conflict. It is conflict that is the result of each of our talents coming together and seeking a way to improve our project.

Sometimes we would discuss simple issues like due dates, but other times the conflict got a little heated. Each of us came in with a different passion, and we saw our own passions as the most important. This caused tension in the group project that we had to work through together. We could not be shortsighted and see only what we thought was important; we had to flesh out these ideas and realize the importance of other people’s viewpoints.

Without input from each of us, there would have been something missing. It takes all members to brainstorm, bounce ideas off of one another and share our strengths to be successful. Not only did these confrontations teach us how to deal with conflict professionally, but it also taught us how to combine ideas and be open-minded.

Every career has a component of collaboration. The New York Times writer Claire Cain Miller wrote an article titled “Tech’s Dangerous Myth of the Loner Genius Nerd.” Miller discusses how necessary it is to have empathy and a broad diversity even in the tech world where things seem so cut and dry.

Miller talks about how it’s important to have a diverse range of people making decisions. Because of each person’s background, he or she will see problems or gaps that other people miss. In the professional world, collaboration is vital because different perspectives lead to a more comprehensive result. Learning how to communicate your ideas and listen to other people in group projects is a leadership skill that employers crave from their employees.

Many soft skills, like working with others, are components of leadership. For instance, being able to delegate tasks in a group setting demonstrates that you are able to trust other people and recognize their strengths. Commitment is another skill that employers are looking for, especially within the millennial generation. Employers want to know we are committed to the company and not just trying to get to the next level. We can practice the skill of commitment within groups. Commitment means that you follow through with what you said you’d do. If one member doesn’t carry his or her own weight, the entire group will suffer.

Not only does collaborating on group projects provide an array of leadership skills, but it is also emotionally beneficial. When I have worked alone, I have experienced anxiety, fear of whether or not I was doing something right and a whirlwind of confusion. But, when I have been in groups, I have been comforted that other people were just as confused as I was and we were able to work through problems together. If between four papers, 2 midterms and over 200 pages of reading, I wasn’t able to make it to a meeting, my group members were understanding and took a load off of my back.

group project, teamwork, collaboration, prepare for career success

There’s a reason professors have us work together in every class. As pointless and painful as it can seem in the moment, working in groups is preparing us to be better employees once we graduate college. Group collaboration teaches us leadership skills, listening skills, the importance of clear communication and how to use our skills effectively.

We may complain about group projects now, but in a few years we’ll be emailing our professors thanking them for preparing us for our futures.

By Jordan Howard, UNC-Chapel Hill ’19

For an easy way to collaborate more with smart people on your campus, get connected on Motee!


What TED Talks Have Taught Me About Collaboration

What TED Talks Have Taught Me About Collaboration

Collaboration is the secret ingredient of many of the world’s greatest innovations, works of art, and social advances. I’ve used TED Talks to research this blog post about collaboration. You can learn to take advantage of collaboration for better results in college. I don’t mean top marks. I mean a full-on, superbetter moment that will carry you forward.

Too often, we consider college coursework a solitary practice. You attend a class, research a paper, and read or practice homework problems alone. It’s time to consider a new strategy. In his TED Talk ,“The New Power of Collaboration,” Howard Rheingold tracks the way humans have used sharing to empower themselves.  Sharing is in your best interest.

Share the workload. Share your knowledge and skills with others. If you are good at proofreading papers, share that skill with your friends through tutoring. If you have an interesting connection but can’t get the words down, talk out your idea with a friend who can capture your thoughts into words. Peer tutor another student. Hire a peer tutor for consistent and relatable homework help. That’s not cheating. It’s using your collaboration capacity and it empowers everyone on the team.

We have to break the mythology of the single genius. There is no solitary genius. The process of collaboration is messy, iterative and interrelated. That’s ok and normal. And really, when in life is there a better environment for messiness than college?

The trick, according to Linda Hill in her TED Talk, “How to Manage for Collective Creativity,” is organizing the talents and passions of other people into work that is meaningful. Change from looking at your class work as a single endeavor. Find others who want to experience the class with a high grade or enjoy the classes subject and organize around that common thread. That is the “meaningful” component that will motivate everyone and produce top results.

Peer to peer networks redefine what friend and neighbor mean, explains Rachel Botsman in her TED talk. Collaboration improves the value of community. College maximizes the power of community. That design encourages peer to peer collaboration interaction.

It’s going to take a leap of faith. Trust is the social glue that binds our communities together.  College is a safe environment to explore the interplay between trust and reputation. That space lets complete strangers structure strong communities. Botsman calls this reputation capital.

Motee lets you build your reputation capital.  Express compliments and gratitude for your friends actions on campus. It’s an extension to your campus best qualities.

Everyone has the ability to share their knowledge or skills with someone else who needs them. I invite you to start sharing your skills with your friends and peers.  Enlist others to help grow your own skills. Collaboration is the one common ingredient that makes brilliant innovations and successes.  It is time to rethink college as a solo pursuit and embrace the power of collaboration.

Want to keep reading about the positive benefits of collaboration? Check out Tori Conange’s college lifestyle blog, Chase the Write Dream, and her thoughts on Motee. Or Ali In Bloom’s personal take on collaboration and motivation.