Hell week is infamous for those familiar with the Algonquin College public relations program. For those who aren’t, let me give you an overview:
- Instead of having traditional exams during exam week, the second-year class is split into groups of four or five (assigned by the program coordinator), and they must respond to a request for proposal. Each team must put together a response (an entire campaign, or a large communications plan) and pitch their idea(s) to the client. The response includes elements such as corporate social responsibility, publicity, advertising, and social media, to name a few. Projects typically range from 60 to 100 pages.
This may not sound too bad, but let me tell you about past hell weeks. Hell week (which is being renamed major project week) got this name from students stressing out, crying, hating their groups, and having a week from hell. At one point, they only had five days to do it. It isn’t that bad anymore (we had eight days), and this is why it is now called major project week.
It was a long week, but it wasn’t as bad as I thought it was going to be. My group received an A and we didn’t shed any tears, kill each other, or pull any all nighters. Here are my tips for a smooth major project week, which are applicable to any team project:
- Recognize your team’s strengths and weaknesses. I knew my strength in this team was writing and editing, so I played to that. Others enjoyed the creative aspect of making advertisements, or were idea people. It sounds like common sense, but don’t assign someone a task he or she is bad at.
- Manage your time. Our longest day was 12 hours (9 a.m. – 9 p.m.), but I know of other groups who were pulling 16 hour days and all nighters. Working yourself too hard for too long will only burn you out, make you unproductive, and will guarantee you make mistakes. How can you edit for details when you can’t focus because you’ve been up all night?
- Try to get along. I think I was fortunate members of my team didn’t have any prior issues with each other, but try to be respectful and get along. We had some tension early on in the brainstorming process when we were hashing out ideas, but that was about it. We’re all adults here, and no good comes from being rude and angry.
- Don’t get attached to ideas. This can be difficult for anyone, but particularly difficult for some people who get emotionally attached to their ideas. Not everyone in your team may like your ideas, or your original idea may be shaped into something new (and hopefully better).
- Ask questions. We were allowed to email our coordinator some questions (which he would share with the class via email), but don’t forget to seek feedback on things from your team members. A couple days into the week, my group was printing off parts and passing them around for feedback. You have different personalities and perspectives for a reason – use them to your advantage!
- Take a break. We’re not machines, and we need to take breaks (mentally and physically) once in a while. Talk a walk or get something to eat. I particularly enjoyed when my group would break at 6 or 7 p.m. and go to the Observatory (a campus restaurant/bar/hangout) for dinner. We would meet up with other classmates, have a laugh, and get back to work.
Major project week was a good experience, and I’m proud of my team. We worked well together and did a great job. It was also nice to work with people I never worked with during the rest of the school year. If you’re an ACPR student reading this, you’ll be fine, and feel free to contact me with any questions. For everyone else, please leave your comments and suggestions for team projects below!