If you thought group projects were tiresome while you’re in the same class room, imagine having 3 group members in Chicago, 2 group members in New York (different locations), and 2 in Philadelphia, all working together on a four week project that we have to present on the 1st day we all meet each other face to face. Can you say, welcome to the real world?
During my internship at Digitas Health in Philadelphia, the first 4 weeks of the program were really dedicated to our knowledge. We learned the ins and outs of the company, did specific tasks to help in any way we could, sat in on learning sessions, learned the various systems the agency utilizes, and developed some serious excel skills. However, I don’t think anything could’ve prepared us for our internship project, which will continue on through the remaining duration of our internship.
The project itself is amazing, and is similar to group projects I’ve done in multiple advertising courses- just with some different incentives, and more organized as a competition. As teams, we have to design an app for the Apple Watch for people with depression, specifically encouraging behavioral change. We have to incorporate what we’ve learned throughout our internship to develop both an app and a plan to advertise our app that falls within pharma regulations, and our project guidelines. Instead of doing this project for an “A”, we’re doing it for the chance to win an Apple Watch, show our creativity, and to really prove what we’ve learned throughout our internship experience.
While initial excitement and the eagerness (especially for me) to get our hands on something we could call our own blinded us in the beginning, the fact that we were working with people across 3 different cities began to sink in. Initial calls were messy, people were speaking over one another, ideas were clashing, and I honestly didn’t know that we could make it to where we are today (only a week and a half later).
I never recognized this difficultly that so many people must face on a daily basis. The possibility for miscommunication when you aren’t in the same room as someone your working with is endless, and honestly a little intimidating. Something that could be meant sarcastically on the end of one line, could be taken offensively through the other. It really is a balancing act. Our meetings used to be cluttered with everyone trying to get their word in and having no definite at the end. Now, we finish meetings early, have definite objectives, and are overall coming up with more proactive ideas and strategies. You really have to want good communication to have it. I still see some other groups struggling, and that lack of communication can be a killer- but it’s a learning experience and I know they’ll get there too. Never undermine the benefits of communication- it may just be our upper edge for this competition!