By: Tommey Liang
Through any type of professional commitment – internship or co-op setting, professional career, projects or in a student organization – teamwork is an essential skill to thrive in the environment. When a group or organization has similar goals and a clear vision of the action items to be completed, there are ways to make the goals more feasible and the journey of achieving said items more enjoyable.
Being a better – specifically, effective – team member is and should be always be a work in progress – there are numerous ways to enhance how you collaborate with others. There are a myriad of methods and strategies to improve the way you cooperate in any type of professional or academic group setting, and not one is greater than the other, but rather complementary to how you work and follow and lead others. The following address some of the different areas and maybe a few, not-so-obvious examples of becoming an effective team member. Some overlap into other professional settings more than others.
Internship or Cooperative Education Setting
- Be receptive to feedback and constructive criticism
- Learn to be flexible and adapt quickly
- Demonstrate confidence in your contribution – be proud of the work you do
- Stay accountable for your work and hold others – fellow interns – accountable
- Do small talk (when appropriate) and build rapport/relationships with colleagues
- Give credit when it is due and compliment (yes, flattery) others’ strengths and skills
- Be reliable and delegate tasks and responsibilities when appropriate
- Be positive, honest and transparent through the highs and lows
Group Projects or Student Organizations
- Be OK with the being the “first” (First to schedule a meeting, first to show up on time, first to volunteer for said technical report)
- Do your part – shared workload
- Ask others if they need help or support and offer said help or support
- If not able to do something due to illness or other reason, inform someone
How you can market yourself:
Articulating said teamwork or collaborative experience to a prospective employer at a career fair or networking event can be daunting. However it can be manageable if you know your value and are confident in your abilities. An example would be “I recognize that teamwork is a desired characteristic on your internship or job application. I have experiences at Embry-Riddle through my projects, work and leadership activities. For instance I served as an Admissions Tour Guide for the university where I worked with a team of five others on getting the tour schedule completed for spring 2020.”
An additional statement could be: “Through my involvement within the Asian Student Association I collaborated with an executive board of nine others to create and plan large-scale cultural events that typically draws more than 200 people.” If you are part of a fraternity or a sorority and served in a chair position, discuss how you cooperated with your executive board and committee members to raise more than x dollar amount for a charity organization. Think holistically: The successes, the failures, the conflicts and the problem-solving involved in the process of working together.
Nonetheless becoming an effective team member is a skill that should be practiced with purpose every day. There are always ways to uplift a team member; to ask to offer support and assistance; to be depended on something and follow through. Making a project less convenient for a teammate because you were willing and signed up for an extra action item is an act of efficiency. Offering both positive and constructive feedback to a teammate can be a huge step forward to making an event possible. Being able to delegate a task to a coworker can help build up and strengthen their skills, and is thus part of lifelong learning.
What is one aspect you can practice going forward to be a more effective team member?
A graduate of the University of Florida and master’s graduate of University of Central Florida, Tommey Liang is a program manager for aerospace engineering, computational mathematics and airworthiness engineering (master’s only) students at Career Services – Daytona Beach. Prior to Embry-Riddle, he served as a City Year AmeriCorps Member in Jacksonville, an ESL teacher in China, and a graduate teaching assistant at UCF Experiential Learning. He enjoys watching sports, movies, anime, playing videos games and spending time with his partner. Feel free to connect with him on social media: Twitter | Instagram