How to Thrive in Group Projects?

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By Sanjeet Chowdhury

‘We’re are going to adopt a group project-based learning approach in this class in order for you to enrich your learning experience.’ How often have we heard this phrase from our professors during class? While some thrive when working on scenario-based project learning, many students shudder at the thought of having to work with other students. What complicates things further is when your teacher randomly creates a group and leaves it up to you to navigate through the class with absolute strangers.

Fret not though. We’ve got it all covered for you. Here are some simple steps that can help you to turn those strangers into team-mates and even into friends, that’ll help you breeze through the class.

  1. Introduce, connect and converse:
    As basic as this step may seem, it is one of the most important steps in laying a strong foundation for your team. Just by having a small conversation with other members of the group can help you in getting to know their levels of interest towards the class or their commitment towards taking up roles for the group project. You could also get to know some mutual friends that’ll help you to break the ice even further.
    2. Assigning roles – Right person for the right job:
    This can be the tricky part of the group project. Slackers find this to be the most opportune moment to sneak away by taking on the most insignificant tasks in the group project. Whilst, the handful few are over-burdened with doing all the project work. In such cases, it’s important to have an open conversation with the group members and those with relevant skills need to be assigned those particular tasks.
    3. Establishing a framework for completing tasks:
    The group members may have their own method of going about carrying out their assigned roles. However, in order to avoid errors such as missing deadlines, duplication of work or misrepresentation of facts, there is a need to create a framework around which the group members could carry out their responsibilities. This could be something as ordinary as creating a spreadsheet to update the status of the tasks or organizing group meetings so that all members of the group are on the same page and that the tasks are carried out smoothly.
    4. Collaborate and pool in resources:
    The essence of group projects is to share your skills with the team and when every member of the group does so, the group is able to learn and enhance their understanding of the class. One could help out their teammates with certain tasks that the other group member may some expertise in, thereby facilitating team bonding and information sharing in the group.
    5. Appreciating and giving credit:
    Everyone likes to have a pat on the back. When group members appreciate each other’s contribution to the group work, it fosters a positive working environment. By recognizing the efforts of team members, group members can bounce ideas off each other showcasing traits of cooperation and open-mindedness as well.

One can’t stress enough on the importance of establishing project objectives, developing communication channels and proper division and delegation of tasks in the group project. These aspects serve as the pillars of success in a group project. Also, at all times, group members must be respectful of others opinions and suggestions. When one is able to do so, it increases the possibility for the group to obtain a greater understanding in the class and most importantly, complete and submit the project within the due date of turning in the project.

Group projects are a great method for group members to hone their leadership skills, time-management skills and also on communication skills. So, the next time you’re in a group project, leverage these measures to get the most out of your class and the project as well.

 

IL MEDITERRANEO: Convergence of Culture, Lifestyle and Endless Opportunity

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Expanding Northeastern’s global footprint one city at a time..

Alane De Luca, Director of Global Employer Relations

PORTUGAL

My fall outreach trip started in Lisbon, or Lisboa as is more commonly referred, where I had several meetings planned across different industry sectors.  After a quick flight from Boston to Portugal and little jet lag, I headed to Maden Parque, a science and technology park in the north of Lisbon and affiliated with The NOVA University of Lisbon – its most important stakeholder, whose mission is to interface between academia and start-ups.  A year earlier, it was a fortuitous encounter to meet the Director, Alicino Pascoal, at the Global Talent Summit in Stockholm, Sweden, and it was there that we decided to keep in touch and explore experiential learning synergies between our two entities.

Alane De Luca, Director of Global Employer Relations in Lisbon, Portugal

During my three day stay in Portugal (which is not technically considered part of the Mediterranean), I met with two architectural firms, three start-ups, two universities, and one business incubator.  Here in the old city meeting with the Vangaurdscale team, we honed in on new co-ops for students in our own back yard.  From the collaboration with Promontorio Partners and our esteemed architecture faculty, students will now have the opportunity to work on restorations and renovations as far as Lisbon or as close as Harvard Square.

With a focus on the vibrant start-up presence in Portugal, I met with two unique groups – one a niche housing provider in Lisbon and the other a game designer closer to Porto.  Both organizations, have posted co-op positions and together have received over ten applications for the January to June cycle.

MOROCCO

Making my way down the Straight of Gibraltar, brought me to magical Fez, Morocco.  There, I met up with an NU alumnus who has been working as an adjunct professor at the American Cultural Center.  As it turned out, the riad I was staying at in the medina was a

Alane De Luca, Director of Global Employer Relations in Fez, Morocco

good friend and familiar with Northeastern’s experiential learning programs.  It was then that I crafted a proposal for the riad to host its first-ever co-op.  Now, fast-forward a few months, and the riad management team has offered a hybrid XN and co-op opportunity, to help create an oral history of the historic riad and the immediate neighborhood.  A Northeastern student will be paired with a Moroccan student; and together, they will go into the medina and interview descendants of previous owners and neighbors, record the interviews, translate them and present them on a simple website.  Ultimately, the riad would like to create an app that could be used for self-guided tours around the medina.  Brilliant opportunities for Northeastern!

MALTA

Nestled between Northern Africa and Sicily, you will find Malta smack dab in the middle of the Mediterranean.  Here, we have created a Northeastern hub for our pharmacy students,

Alane De Luca, Director of Global Employer Relations in Valletta, Malta

where students have been co-op’ing in Malta for the past decade working in pharmacies across this bustling island.  It seemed time to expand our global offerings to include other disciplines, such as architecture and engineering.  With the assistance of our partner, Geovisions, we plan to integrate additional opportunities for students in these majors.  Photographed here is the Chief Architect of ARC Studio and his design team; just one of the new partners excited to learn about Northeastern’s array of experiential programs.

SARDEGNA

A good part of the Global ER team’s outreach strategy has to do with leveraging connections – with current co-ops, parents, alumni, admissions, development, and our

Alane De Luca, Director of Global Employer Relations in Cagliari, Sardegna

university peers.  Traveling northwest from Malta to the much larger island of Sardinia, engulfed by the Tyrrhenian Sea, I was welcomed by our university partner, University of Cagliari (pronounced “Cal-yi-ar-ree”) or UNICA.  With regular-standing co-ops in civil and environmental engineering, it seemed a logical next step to broaden our partnership to include increased faculties.  After meeting with our current co-ops, photographed here, it became clear why this destination is increasingly popular among Northeastern students.  Not only are co-ops able to enroll in free Italian language courses, but they also work directly under designated research faculty, supporting their professional area of interest.  The mix of culture, career preparation, and easy access to traveling across Europe were some of the key factors atop their list.

SPAIN

One of the most rewarding parts of my job is when I meet with Huskies on the road.   Northeastern takes any opportunity to celebrate its thousands of alumni/ae – and, it is in

Alane De Luca, Director of Global Employer Relations in Madrid, Spain

these moments we can say “thank you” back.  NU has established over 40 Alumni Communities worldwide, and it was with great pleasure to participate in the pre-launch of the Madrid community alongside the leadership team.  I saw first-hand the excitement and dedication from our Madrid alumni/ae; they have tremendous enthusiasm to remain connected to Northeastern.  The official launch celebration of the Madrid Alumni Community took place on October 25th, and with a lot of fanfare from near and far.  Go Huskies!

 

LUXEMBOURG

What do you get when you mix cocoa and hazelnuts?  Nutella!  Yes, you got that right!  As history goes, it was by sheer accident that baker, Pietro Ferrero, needed to stretch his

Alane De Luca, Director of Global Employer Relations in Luxembourg

chocolate supply and “mistakenly” created the “Pasta Gianduja” or chocolate paste as it were.  Due to World War II rationing, there was very little chocolate to be found in the Piedmont region and cocoa was in short supply, but, hazelnuts, on the other hand, were plentiful!  ..and so you could say, the rest is history.  Here, it was an honor to end my trip visiting Ferrero Headquarters, meeting with the talent management team, and learning about the Ferrero story.  The Ferrero-Northeastern partnership has deepened over the past year, and has grown to include co-ops in both Luxembourg and Barcelona.  Experiential learning at its best ~ how sweet it is!

Alane De Luca oversees the Global Employer Relations team and global lead-generation initiatives within Career Development and Cooperative Education.  She comes to Northeastern with 25+ years of experience working in the international education arena.  Alane’s passion for global experiential learning began when she was a Peace Corps

Volunteer in West Africa, where she worked alongside NGO’s and native Senegalese in rural parts of northern Senegal.  Upon returning to the states, she assumed a position funded by the United States Agency for International Development focusing on initiatives set forth by the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation and administered at Northeastern. She also has experience directing global and experiential learning programs within academia at Merrimack College, Salem State University, Suffolk University Law School, and Saint Anselm College.  She is a dual citizen of Italy, holds an M.Ed. from Northeastern University and a B.A. from The College of the Holy Cross. www.linkedin.com/in/alanedeluca

“Not all those who wander are lost.” – J.R.R. Tolkien

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Co-op” by Abby Duclos, Senior, DMSB- Finance

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The reason I came to Northeastern was the co-op program. In fact, I even pushed myself to do NUin Costa Rica to come here – definitely one of the craziest but best decisions I have made to date. As the years go by, as I get older, NEU seems to get better and better. The students are better; the classes are better, the campus is better, the jobs are better, etc. And, honestly – I am not even entirely sure I would get in now if I applied again as a senior in high school. People want to come here – and why is that? People want to come here because Northeastern University graduates get Jobs.

You are almost guaranteed to get a job straight of college if you go to NEU… 92% of graduates are employed full-time or enrolled in graduate school within nine months after graduation

Little did I know before becoming a Career Fellow last month, the Co-op department and the Career Development office at Northeastern are two separate entities. Students have two separate teams of people whose jobs are to help them get a killer job. I also learned that Northeastern has one of the best Career Development departments in the country, which, to be honest, should not come as a surprise. From day one, students are taught to live and breathe experiential learning. There are pros and cons to this approach:

Pros: (speaking for myself) Students are EXTREMELY prepared for the real world in comparison to the majority of their peers at other universities
Cons: The NEU experience is not a typical college experience what-so-ever, which tends to turn people off

Without diving too deep into why I love experiential learning, (I am honestly so excited about experiential learning it gives me pain not to launch into a full-scale rant about how great it has been for me and why EVERYONE should have at least one experience before he or she leave University.) I thought I would use this time to give a high-level overview regarding what I have learned thus far about the Northeastern Career Development office as a Career Fellow.

(1) As mentioned above, the Co-op office and the Career Development office are two separate things. That means that students have two resources to help them through all aspects of the career development process. Students not only have a Co-op Advisor, but they also have access to multiple Career Development Counselors to help answer anything from “What is a resume?” to “What should I do with my life?” questions.

(2) The Career Development website (northeastern.edu/careers) is amazing. Students have SOOO many resources at their fingertips that they probably don’t even realize are available to them on the website. For example Need help to prepare for interviews but can’t find time to schedule a mock interview because the only time you have to practice is at 2 AM because you are either a varsity athlete, on the e-board of 7 clubs and also happen to have a double major in Finance and Biology? Have no fear! We have access to Big Interview, where you can practice answering interview questions on your own time.

(3) As a Northeastern student and alumni, you have access to the Career Development office, and its resources, FOR LIFE. This is pretty exceptional and rare. I know many Universities only allow you access, for a select number of years after you graduate, and in some cases, from then on you have to pay a fee… So this is an important thing to know if down the line you are looking for a career change, are in between jobs or need a couple of extra eyeballs to graze your resume.

I would also like to add a shameless plug endorsing the inaugural class of Career Fellows who will now be available on Campus weekly to help with Resume, Cover Letter and LinkedIn profile reviews. There are six of us, comprised of both undergrad and grad students of various majors and backgrounds, who are here to help anyone, whether you are looking to start from scratch or put the finishing touches on any of your co-op, internship, or full-time job recruiting materials. Check out the Drop-In Schedule (below) and come by – we would LOVE to help.

Come by across campus to have your resume, cover letter, and LinkedIn profile reviewed. Drop-ins will be held:
Sundays 1:30 – 3:30 Curry Student Center 1st Floor
Sundays 7-9 in ISEC Lobby
Tuesdays 4:00 – 6:00 Stetson East
Thursdays 11:30 – 1:30 in Shillman DD
Fridays 4:00 – 6:00 in Snell Library Discovery Lab (138A)
Saturdays 1:30 – 3:30 in Snell Library Discovery Lab (138A)