Oct 262011
 
Authors: Lydia Jorden

Right as I was about to hit “send” confirming our group meeting that night, I received a notification that everything I thought I worked toward was over.

I have never been more wrong.

Over the past two weeks, I learned more about myself and working with others than I have experienced in years’ time.

In those two weeks I prepared myself to compete in front of a big four accounting firm’s employees as they judged different teams in a case-study competition. This competition tested us to analyze a tax-based case, critically think about its implications in the real-world and present our findings to the employees who would judge our tax based recommendations.

One team would win and continue to compete in the finals.

I was lucky enough to be put on a team with extremely smart individuals who were as fully committed to the project as I was. As determined individuals, we got straight to work — knowing little about one another.

However, over the course of the two-week-period we were allotted to research the case, members of our group left the team, leaving the rest of us to find replacements on a short-time period.
When our third person decided to prioritize other commitments over the competition, our team made the challenging decision to withdraw from the competition.

Needless to say, I was disappointed.

Not only did our team sacrifice work hours and personal time on a project that we now had no chance of winning, but our team also sacrificed hours to form an argument to present.

With all that energy wasted, I wondered why the four people in our group couldn’t just continue to present. We wouldn’t be eligible to win without another person, but we could still share our ideas.
However, after giving it some thought, the final decision we made was one of wisdom.

The project aimed for students to apply what they learned in the classroom to a real-life scenario, but through the process of ending the project early, I got the chance to reflect on the situation and realize that I have learned more through withdrawing.

I called my friend the evening of our first meeting to try to tell her how exciting it is to be on a team for that project. But instead, half of our conversation sounded something like me telling her how one person in our group didn’t seem to quite understand the case, and that I should have made an effort to help that individual understand.

I screwed up.

In hindsight, I should have made that effort from the start of the project, but my concern for all my exams and personal investment into the project oversaw the issues another member in the group was having.

Working on a team means helping others before the implications outweigh the effort. Again, an important lesson I would not have thought about if we followed through.

In a similar sense, asking for the help when you need it is an important part of being a team.

Receiving a case study about taxes for the first time and having to analyze it is a pretty daunting task. But our team brainstormed and helped each other out when we had issues. But it’s also a personal responsibility to seek out the help when it’s needed.

Swallow your pride, and ask for help if you need it. This principle will serve you well in college and life.

As I begin to wonder if other teams faced the same challenges as ours and persevered through them, I have to stop myself.

It does not matter if they did or didn’t or continued to present or not to present.

The frustration we endured and knowing the strength of our team, regardless of whether our competitors would see it or not, is a significant accomplishment.

So although tonight, many excellent, smart and talented groups are competing in the tax competition, my mind will not settle in thoughts of what could have been, but rather what I have learned and accomplished through the experience.

Lydia Jorden is a junior business major. Her column appears Thursdays in the Collegian. She can be reached at letters@collegian.com.

 Posted by at 2:25 pm

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