Turn Group Project Pains Into Gains

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today August 20th, 2018 comment No Comments comment No Comments

Group projects can seem like something you just have to suffer through while at school. Inevitably you are going to have to talk about your team work skills in a job application or an interview—what will you say? That when a group member was falling behind deadline you just did their work for them? Or that you avoided conflict by always saying “yes” to everyone’s ideas, even though you had concerns? Of course not. Show an employer that your teamwork skills have improved and developed while at school and that you’re ready to take them to the next level in the workplace.

Let’s start by clarifying one thing: employers don’t list team work on a job posting just to take up space. Most jobs require you to work with other people, and no matter how sharp your hard skills are, if you can’t demonstrate real team work abilities, you may find it challenging to land a job or advance in your career. The suggestions that follow require you to take action during your studies, not 2 weeks before you graduate!

1. Get to know your teamwork style.

Teams change, but you will be in every group you ever end up on. What are some common themes you’re noticing? Assess yourself and get reliable feedback from peers and instructors. Most peoples’ weaknesses and strengths are connected. For example, maybe you’re a keen participator? You always have ideas and volunteer to present the group’s work. Great! A downside could be that you’re not listening to the more reserved members of the group or not giving others a chance to pitch in ideas or take charge.

2. Prepare to share your self-awareness.

During the application process, interviews, and networking, a potential employer is trying to get an idea of what type of person you are in the professional sense. Aside from the necessary hard qualifications, employers want to know how you will fit in with the existing team and what kind of work ethic and attitude you have. How will you show them if you don’t know yourself?
Talk about specific contributions you’ve made in your group projects, recall times of conflict or setbacks and how you communicated, supported, problem-solved, or resolved disagreements in the team.

3. Make progress.

If you haven’t assessed and improved your teamwork skills by the time you graduate, you’ve missed an opportunity. There are numerous resources at BCIT to help you identify, communicate, and improve your team work skills. Employers are eager to hear about the skills you’ve gained while at school and are impressed by examples of self-awareness and growth. That is why they ask behavioural interview questions during interviews.

Make use of these on campus resources while at school and become the effective team member that employers seek:

Peak Leadership 
Free extra-curricular program designed to give BCIT students the opportunity to learn leadership and professional development through professional sessions, practical leadership experience and self-discovery.

Leadership Conference
Open to the BCIT Community coming Spring 2019. Students can register on Career Track to be the first to know about our upcoming leadership initiatives.

BCITSA Student Initiative Fund (SIF)
Students can apply once per academic year for funding (up to $500) for initiatives that focus on professional development such as, communication skills, time management and effective teamwork.

BCIT’s Counselling & Student Development resources
Free Appointments can help to sort through personal concerns, like anxiety, depression, relationships, assertiveness, and build decision-making and problem-solving skills