From the campus to the workplace: are interactive media students being prepared for the real world?

TeamI am in the seventh week of learning Interactive Media in college. It has been a tough and exciting experience, learning about coding, interactive strategies, content planning, project management and the interactive media industry, as a whole. The program attracts students from various backgrounds, like marketing and advertisement, graphic design, game development and banking. Also, with our experiences, comes different preferences and working styles. And when people with different preferences and approaches come together to work as a team, rarely is it a smooth ride.

In the project management class, we are required to work together on assignments. In the course of the seven weeks, I have observed how many of my interactive media colleagues work. Some prefer to work alone, they do not like the unpredictability that comes with working with people they do not know yet. Others like to work in a group because they enjoy the whole experience of getting to know other people, learning and adjusting to their personalities, in order to achieve the group’s goals. Based on my conversation with some of my colleagues, I have learnt that working in a team is not easy for everyone. If there is ever a time to learn how to work in a team, it is now, especially as we are still in a learning environment. In the real world of interactive media, teamwork is important. The stakes are higher, the projects, bigger, affecting the lives of real people.

Explaining the Three Ps of the types of people that exist in a team would help us to understand why people are different and how we can get the best out of people we work with. The Product People work fast, they focus on completing tasks before the target day for completion and they care about deliverables and results. They are focused on the WHAT of the team, that is, they ask the question, what are we trying to achieve in this project? They get worried when other members of a team seem not to be moving at their fast pace. The Process People is another working style we should take note of in a work environment.Their thinking process revolves around the HOW of the project. For example, you work for a game design company and there is a new project to design a virtual reality gaming experience. If you have a process person on your team, his or her focus would be on the methodology of the project, the quality of the steps the team is taking towards the making of the game. Next, we have The People People, they are the relationship builders in a team.They are emotionally intelligent and understand other members of their team, they keep the team cohesive and working towards the team goals.

The good news is that no matter what style or approach to work you adopt, you still have a role to play in the success of your team. In his Harvard Business Review post, Carson Tate opens by stating that most leaders recognise the need for diversity in the workplace, in order to achieve long-term success. He further explains that diversity is not limited to narrow terms like gender, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, age and rank.

“But there’s another kind of diversity that might be even more helpful:  differences in work style — or the way in which we think about, organise, and complete tasks.”

Carson Tate.

Working well in a team is crucial to success in the interactive media industry. This is why it is essential that interactive media students should learn to work together because it is an experience that they would face in the workplace. So why is teamwork important? First of all, a team environment is a breeding ground for great ideas. When you run your idea by one or more persons, they bring a lot of perspectives and angles to your idea, that you would not have thought of because you think in a different way. A suggestion from a team member might be the missing puzzle your idea has been in need of. Secondly, teamwork brings speed and efficiency to a project. When every member of the team agrees with and understands the goals of the project, then they can divide the workload and work on different aspects of the project separately and converge in the middle with results. The third point I would like to conclude with is that a good team is a support network. When you run out of ideas and everything seems to be crashing around you, your team will be your support. Successful leaders have known, over the years, that building a good team around yourself is key to success.



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