Published: September 17th, 2015
Going from not really being involved in extracurricular activities to actually joining an organization takes some getting used. It’s not like class where everything is scheduled by the professor and you don’t have to talk to other students if you don’t want to. In a student organization, there’s a bit more to do. I figured as much when I first joined the AMA. Nothing seemed off in the orientation or even the first general meetings.
However, I also thought about joining Roaring Concepts, the marketing agency run by FIU’s chapter of the AMA. It sounded cool to think that you’d be gaining real experience in marketing and working with real clients who want a real campaign. I had no idea what to expect, but I was put in a team and told to figure it out. Thus began the highly disorienting journey of learning what real marketing was like, and I’m very grateful for the experience.
- Teamwork is complicated
If that sounds weird to you, you need to realize that I was the kind of kid who hardly ever visited his own best friend’s place. Growing up, I just kept to myself and hoped for the best. In Roaring Concepts, however, you work in a group, and you depend on that group a lot! We’d meet at all kinds of times, stretching our schedules to see when we could think through some problem or decide on some version of a logo. Responsibilities would be sorted out, giving everything another layer of complexity. Add to that the stress of school, family, and life in general, and you get a bunch of real folks trying to untangle a tough knot as best they know how. I had to learn quickly to speak up and make sure things got done. Teamwork was essential to seeing the project through, so I couldn’t even hope to try and do it alone. I never had to work like that before, but it showed me that we had to put something together despite the trouble.
When you join a team, don’t be thrown off by how crazy the work might feel. Stay calm and try to get your group together and on the same page. Figure out when and how you guys work best and funnel everything you have to do through that way of working.
- I have non-negligible weaknesses
I think most people are at least loosely aware of the fact that they’re imperfect in some way. We make mistakes or say something regrettable or fail to keep a commitment. I too understood I wasn’t amazing, but Roaring Concepts… highlighted a few things. For one, I learned that I can be overbearing on the team. Sometimes I felt we were too behind schedule, so I would “encourage” us to do a bit more, which probably came across as nagging. Interestingly enough, I also lack in assertiveness. Sometimes important things were going on that needed tending to, and I basically avoided the issue for fear of flaming a conflict. To be honest, I was aware of my personal problems before joining the team, but seeing my faults in action gave me insight into how they manifest themselves to people. I can do something about it now.
As you begin to see more clearly what it is you’re not good at, take it in stride and focus on making up for it. Sometimes it’s a little mannerism that can be fixed, sometimes it’s a personality thing that your group just needs to know about. Whatever it is, don’t ignore; do something to make the situation better.
- Working on a team is hard but worth it
See thing 1. Few things seemed as dysfunctional to me as groupwork. I mean, why would you bring in anyone to do anything you could do yourself? Why deal with the hassle of coordination, and all of the opinions that brings? A team that responds submissively to the commands of whoever’s in charge is fine, but when you let us have input, things get untidy. My problem, though, was confusing the energy of creativity with unproductivity. If I myself think in an erratic mess, why would I expect otherwise from my team, and why would I assume that the result of that “mess” would not yield something really cool? Roaring Concepts helped show me that you get a little dirty when you work hard, but that’s fine, and you can always wash your hands when you’re done.
Working in a group may not be super fun for you either, but it’s actually pretty interesting if you’re honest with yourself. Get your hands dirty and be active in your team. When you participate, you’ll see it’s not so bad.
Having remembered fondly my first semester in Roaring Concepts, I’m really looking forward to seeing what new things I learn this semester. I’m in a new team with a new client and a new project, but I think things will go just as well as, if not better than, my first go around.