The Power of a Group Project

App class project prepared journalism alumnus for "real world"

 

From elementary school all the way through one of my last college courses, I despised group projects. I thought they were some of the most unfair assignments students received. On one hand, you could be riding the coattails of your classmates’ hard work; and on the other hand, you could be doing everything you possibly can to keep your group afloat. Rarely could you find yourself in a situation where it was an ultimate team project with everyone doing their part, equally. 

When I stepped foot into my first job outside of college, the power of a group project really came through. I realized that every single project I was going to work on moving forward in my career was going to be a group project. There was no way around it. 

In retrospect, I look back at one course in particular that I took at the University of Texas at Austin: Mobile News App Design.

This course allowed journalism majors and computer science majors to come together to create their very own app. Whether you are studying either of those fields or not, it is pretty apparent how different they are and how different the students think. It wasn’t until I completed that class (with the help of my teammates) that I realized the beauty of it.

From scratch, our team designed an app that provided an easy way for friends to find each other and all of the hottest tailgates on game day. This app made it into the Apple App Store. It was absolutely incredible, but it wasn’t easy.

When five people come together to create an app from all different backgrounds and perspectives, disagreements are common, bickering is frequent and complaining is almost non-stop. Communication is difficult, people value different things and you sometimes feel like the project is going nowhere. But through it all, you end up learning to prioritize alignment over anything because hardly will everyone in a group project all be on the same page. And that’s OK! In fact, the power of the group is having different opinions and being able to challenge each other because that’s what’s going to help create an incredible result.

Now In my full-time job, I realize that nothing can be done alone. I need the help of my teammates to get things done. More importantly, we all need each other if we want to create awesome work and move the needle. Sure, disagreements will come about. People may even temporarily be mad at one another. It’s all natural. But I promise you that everything you learn from being in a group project comes through when you get out into the “real world.”