I’ve lived the stereotypical “college finals life” for the last two weeks. You know- constant coffee drinking, running frantically from point A to point B, reading and writing long emails, consuming junk food, LIVING ON NO SLEEP, etc.
What’s not stereotypical, however, is my reaction to it all: I loved every moment of it.
All of this work occurred because of Journalism 345, the intermediate strategic communications course at the School of Journalism and Mass Communication at UW-Madison. This course doesn’t focus on tests or quizzes, but instead teaches you to work in a group. I’ve been in about 10,000 group projects, but this class was different. I think portion of the unique experience came from the fact that each group member held a specific responsibility and portion of the project: research, account planning, creative, media (my role) or PR/promotions. This composition allowed each person to feel that they had ownership and connection to the project while, at the same time, gave an opportunity to lead others.
My group (dubbed “The Creu”) was assigned the task of creating a campaign for the Honda Civic Hybrid. As each week progressed throughout the semester, we learned about our assigned product and began to live/eat/sleep/feel its brand image. There were no “lines” in the project, meaning that our end result could be completely different from another group’s output. Additionally, we competed against two other teams to “win” the campaign aka gain 15 points extra credit.
After a whole semester of my j345 project, I’m comfortable saying that I’ve grown as a person and have gained a newfound respect for the advertising/PR industry (wow, that didn’t sound cliche at all). Feeling a rush of adrenaline as you present your own ideas to your team, going the extra step and staying up an additional two hours to make your copy/spreadsheet perfect, and spending countless hours in a hot, sweaty room talking creative strategy- these are the components of the project that made my semester.
On Thursday, my group finally presented our campaign to a faculty panel. This was the culmination of hours upon hours of work, especially producing a 55-page campaign book. My group sat in College Library for over two weeks, eating/laughing/stressing/sweating/freaking out…together. That’s what made the difference in this project. We did everything together and enjoyed being in each other’s presence.
Other course projects have had similar challenges, but the material could be broken into chunks to the point where each member could take on one roll and then slap everything together at the last second. Not working together makes a project just a project- not a time for growth and change.
This experience was something special… something that not every college student has the opportunity to experience during 4 years of undergraduate study. My group has texted back and forth for the last 48 hours post campaign pitch, explaining that we wish we were all together. And we’re not the only group to say this. Look at some examples:
Call me a nerd if you must, but I love my school and all that it provides for students. A special thanks to the TAs and faculty who provide this amazing education- without all of you, we’d be a bunch of boring students without a passion that drives us to do great things. Your dedication shows… and your students are grateful, even when they seem stressed and would rather sleep than go to lecture : ).
Any other J Schoolers with me on this one?
And to the Creu, I have one thing to say: “PDF PDF PDF and Avocados in my burrito”