Thursday, April 12, 2012

Coping with Projects: 7 Useful Tips for Freshmen!

By Vanessa Yen, Year 3, Diploma in Media Studies & Management

At the age of 16 and awaiting enrolment into a polytechnic, you would imagine managing projects to be of a simple concept of a group of people working together.

You would think that it is where the assignment is given and the work is split amongst the appointed group – making the workload a lot simpler and lighter.
But this isn't always true.  While projects are not as complex as of a mathematical solution for logarithms, they do come with their own challenges

In a polytechnic, projects are important because the weightage of your projects is added to your final grade at the end of every semester. So you certainly want to consider doing your projects as seriously as you would consider making a career move.
Here are some tips on how to cope with projects:  

  1. Always maintain professionalism while working as a group. You may enjoy the companionship of your good friends but it is advisable to keep anything personal out of the project equation. Working together may mean seeing sides of your friends you have never seen before. Brace yourself to expect the unexpected. 

    Just remember that you want to work well together in order to attain excellence and achieve a deserving grade.

  2. Be prepared to face bouts of disagreements that may lead to arguments - and at times heated ones. Just keep in mind that it is all done in the name of work and when the deadline looms, just get ready to shake hands and bury the hatchet. It is not worth bearing grudges because you have plenty more semesters to go and you might just end up being assigned to work with the same people on future projects to come.
  3. Be adaptable. There is no time for you to moan over things that make you uncomfortable – time and tide waits for no man and you have deadlines to meet! Step out of your comfort zone and just accept whatever that comes your way. Taking on a challenge will only widen your perspective and teach you valuable lessons that you will help you when you work in future. Always be ready to expose yourself to new challenges and learn from others!
  4. Stay humble. No one likes to work with a snobbish and arrogant person. It makes things very awkward and you appear unapproachable.  Keep in mind that your attitude and behaviour will have an effect on your final grade as your team might have to take part in peer evaluation. On the other hand, you are definitely not required to flatter everyone. Be honest and open and do not close doors just because you disagree with the rest of your group members. Be flexible and non-judgemental. 

  5. Be receptive to different ideas. Sometimes things do not go as planned. As your mentor, your lecturer will be guiding you through and he/she might require of your team to make some changes to your project. Do not be overly defensive but instead, listen to your lecturer’s reasons. After all, our lecturers have got years of industry experience so they may provide insights you don’t know about.  Of course, you can share your opinions and exchange ideas with them.
  6. Be organised.  Plan your time properly and always aim to keep track of your progress. You do not want to face the intense minutes before project deadlines or end up burning the midnight oil. Ensure that the workload is split evenly and fairly among team members. Remember to always PLAN your schedule wisely and collaborate with your team on fair terms and even ground. You might want to look into the best timing for all as so that none will miss out on the discussion.  It is also a good idea to always vet through the final piece to clear mistakes as soon as possible.
  7. Have fun with the process! Everything you do in the project might just be related to something awaiting you in your potential career! Enjoy the process now so that you can look back on them with fond memories. Being the best is one thing, but make sure that you learnt well from the process as well. Remember to stop and smell the roses.

    Every step holds something new, so think through before you tackle it. Analyse your obstacles and make your decisions carefully. It can only be enjoyable if you allow yourself to make it so. The decision is yours to make.

Doing projects will give you a glimpse of what the working world is like, especially the types of people you may have to work with and the pressure which comes with the job.

Of course, you have barely started your life in polytechnic, so don’t worry too much. Everyone goes through a different experience and these tips just give you an idea of what to expect.  So do not think negatively of it before even experiencing it! Good luck, everyone!
Vanessa is a Year 3 Media Studies & Management student who enjoys writing, drawing, sports photography, literature, reading, music & fashion, and basically anything artsy. She also enjoys spending time with friends, laughing with them and listening to them. She has a huge interest in planning & facilitating events, and also loves nature, walking, and landscape photography.

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