Jump Start Your Group Project
July 11, 2017
If you’re a Westphal student, odds are group projects are a big part of your education at Drexel. Even if you’re not a Westphal student, being able to work in a team is an invaluable skill. As somebody who has been the producer behind many team projects over my undergrad career, I have definitely learned a thing or two since starting out. The tips I want to share with you all are things I wish I had gotten into the habit of doing earlier, because they’re a great base to build any project off of.
Time moves fast at Drexel and you don’t want to spend any time doubling back and looping around on things you’ve already covered.
Firstly, get organized. Now that’s a cliché, I know, but there are ways to be organized you may not have already thought of in past group project experiences. Keep a journal, and write notes called “meeting minutes” every time you meet with group members. This is especially important in full team meetings, as it helps you stay on track with what was said and where you left off last time. Time moves fast at Drexel and you don’t want to spend any time doubling back and looping around on things you’ve already covered.
Next, keep easily accessible documentation of task distribution, meeting minutes, idea pitches, whatever, online. Keep an offline log for yourself as well, but having an online portal, such as an organized Google drive or Trello board, can go miles. It makes sure everybody is reading the same documentation, so if anything was misinterpreted or miscommunicated earlier, the online portal has the uniform in-writing synopsis. A great quote from George Bernard Shaw summarizes the importance of this… “The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.” So make sure everybody is getting the same feed of information, and you’ll be ready to move forward with the whole team on the same page.
Lastly, one of the greatest fears for people in group projects is morale. That is, keeping people invested and motivated in the project. A negative soul in your group can quickly suck the air out of the room for your project. The best way I’ve found to deal with this is through a combination of validation and fun out-of-project experiences. Validation meaning, making sure all group members opinions are considered. Two minds are always greater than one. Your project will only get stronger by considering all options available. Secondly, out-of-project experiences are something not a lot of people consider. Your group mates are people too, and odds are they’re pretty similar to you if they’re in your class. Do fun things outside of work with them, not just because you want a good project but because working with people you enjoy will strengthen your group overall. Hang out, play video games, have a snack, whatever it is. Your project will be better for it.
Group projects can be daunting, but they don’t have to be if you tackle them the right way. For myself I’m currently endeavoring a senior project which is the biggest group project we Digital Media majors partake in. All of these tips are standard for us now nearly 4 years down the Drexel road. My advice is to start early. Do these things from the beginning and you’ll be a master of teamwork with great product to show for it.
Arden Zohar is a current Game Art and Production junior from Westchester County, NY. He also has a minor in Photography, and loves to work on all types of media. Between projects he enjoys the house show scene around Drexel, and exploring Philadelphia. You can see some of his work at ardenzohar.com.