Written by Cali Fisler
Me spending way too much time with my BCOM 314 group in Fall 2016
Let’s be honest, most of us dread the idea of group work. I’ll admit it, I hated group work a year and a half ago when admitted into Eller. But, the Eller Experience is riddled with teamwork, and we all know that going in. Even before you’re admitted into Eller, you’re assigned into groups with other pre-business students in classes like BNAD 200. When the fruitful day comes of getting into Eller, you’re met with even more teamwork… a team for a full semester, to be exact. However, do not give up, being “forced” to work on a team, and learning to face that challenge in a pre-professional setting is one of the most valuable scenarios I have encountered in college.
By pursuing a business degree from one of the top ranked business schools in the nation, I knew that Eller’s rigorous team oriented academic approach would challenge me and grow me for the better. I was shy before Eller and the intense group work taught me that knowing how to work on a team exposes you to diverse perspectives and ideas you would never cultivate on your own. Eller taught me that the ability to work on a team is essential for the business world today.
Deciding to get a degree in business, we all want to know that we are getting a valuable education that will inevitably help us find a job. And Eller tailors to that, incorporating BCOM 214, a once optional course that is now required, focusing on written communication, and incorporating the notoriously hard BCOM 314 for verbal communication. According to NACE’s Job Outlook Survey of what employers look for when they are seeking new college graduates, the second most valuable attribute is the ability to work in a team. Among the top five skills an employer looks for include written communication skills and verbal communication skills.
This week, BCOM 314 teams are announced and first semester cohort students learn who they will work with for the rest of the semester across three separate classes, BCOM 314, MGMT 310 and MRKT 361. When first faced with these people, you never really know what to expect, I sure know I didn’t. In BCOM, you learn that you will go through stages with these people, forming, storming, norming, and performing. For some groups the storming, or disagreements, come fast, and fade quickly. For others, like mine, you don’t get stormy until the very end but have hopefully bonded enough to work through the challenge. It all depends on your group, but any non-homogenous environment it’s normal to have disagreements and every group knows they have to reach the performing stage before the BCOM 314 Case Competition by the end of the semester.
Working through issues with your group is essential and necessary for success in the semester. I truly believe Eller forces you to work so closely, seriously you spend way too much time with your group just look at the video above, to force you to inevitably have conflict. But, to have a space to learn how to deal maturely and professionally with other people you disagree with, without the risk of being in at an actual professional job, is so valuable. In our lives we all will, or currently, have to work with people we may not particularly care for, maybe even in your BCOM 314 class, but to know how to constructively communicate, collaborate, and execute tasks with them in a workplace appropriate manner is what employers are looking for and what BCOM teams teach you.
The skills I learned in BCOM 314 are truly the most valuable I have learned in my Eller coursework. For anyone starting out incredibly shy and hating public speaking, like me, this class really pushes you. But I kid you not, my own mother was impressed with how assertive I became after my first semester at Eller (I know she’s also impressed with me winning both the BCOM 314 and MIS 304 case competitions, because I never shut up about it, but I don’t want to brag too much). BCOM 314 truly shaped me into a much more confident person I am today and knowing how difficult the course can be, I am now a Project Manager and peer mentor for the class.
My biggest advice to the newly admitted first semester Eller students forming their groups this week is to work as hard as possible and know that conflict among teammates is perfectly normal. You can’t agree with everyone all the time, but it’s how you deal with it that makes or breaks a team. We all go through it and working through it in a mature way is how you’ll grow this semester. Just communicate with one another and be mindful of each other’s differing perspectives and backgrounds, we all bring our own skills and ideas to the table. Put maximum effort into your presentation skills (PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE) and you will succeed. Also, even if you think you don’t have anything to do, you do, get ahead and Bear Down and Suit Up!