Submitted by Kobi E. Varner (September 2012)
Students in business schools will undoubtedly be faced with dozens of group projects. As traditional business students, those that have little work experience may find such assignments frustrating. After all, what is the value of completing so many group projects? I admit there are few things more irritating and mentally draining that working on a project where team members are either absent or not pulling their weight.
The best advice that I can give business students is to not underestimate the value of group projects. As both a graduate student pursing an advanced degree in business and a seasoned professional, my opinion of group projects is very different. In the workplace, especially in business, employees are often required to work with colleagues across various departments and functional areas to reach common goals. The reality is there will always be colleagues that slack off and fail to make substantial contributions. In the real world, business graduates will meet colleagues that reached their positions because of who they know rather than their merit, credentials, or abilities.
As painful as they are, group assignments in higher learning environments are excellent precursors to what graduates will experience in the business world after the textbooks close. Therefore, use them as opportunities to hone collaboration skills, develop patience, and to learn how to compromise. These skills will help business students better navigate the often political and bureaucratic natures of many corporate cultures.