Teamwork and its close cousin leadership are highly prized by graduate programs and universities. But if you haven’t worked in teams on any regular basis, don’t worry! You’ve probably got a number of examples of teamwork in your back pocket that you didn’t even realize were there. Consider the following four ideas when you are writing an essay about teamwork:
- Teams come in many flavors and sizes.
Unless you’ve been living the life of a hermit for the past several years, you have undoubtedly participated in various groups. Maybe you were a member of a sports team, a dance or theater troupe, or a youth group through your church, synagogue, or community center. You might have been a member of a committee, either as a volunteer or at work. You might have helped to organize an event, tutored, been in a Scout group, or volunteered to be a Big Brother or Big Sister.
In any of these cases, you would have worked with other people. Even if your interaction was with only one other person, you have material you can discuss in a teamwork personal statement.
- Show how you were an active listener.
Teamwork and collaboration require effective listening. Discuss a time when you stopped to really listen to others patiently and skillfully, and explain to the adcom how doing so eased tensions and increased collaboration. This can be an impressive example of your teamwork skills.
- Discuss morale boosting and conflict resolution.
Have you ever helped inject excitement into a project when enthusiasm was flagging? Brainstormed an idea to strengthen a group, club, or project? These are also examples of teamwork. You might have been involved in a project and found a way to make peace between two warring members of the group who couldn’t agree on the direction forward. If you mediated this conflict and got the two individuals to start working together, that is surely teamwork (and worthy of a peace prize!).
Any time you took the initiative to get involved with other people (especially when they were being difficult), discover a better way to get things done, find a middle ground, or think up a creative new idea, it was teamwork.
- Consider experiences in your personal life for material.
Effective teamwork can also be shown through experiences in your personal life. A client once wrote about her efforts to heal a serious rift in her family after her father passed away and an ugly succession fight ensued. Siblings were fighting for control of the successful family business. The client patiently coaxed cooperation even in an emotionally charged environment through shuttle diplomacy and active listening among battling family members.
Another client wrote about having organized a trip with a few friends and how she dealt with a dispute between two of them, whose bickering threatened to ruin the trip. Her effective listening and creative figuring out of an activity that neither of the “combatants” would be able to resist helped defuse the situation and saved the trip from becoming an outright disaster for everyone. In both these situations, the “teams” were small, but the stakes for those involved were high.
We hope you now see that you’ve been working in teams more often than you thought! No doubt you’ll have strong options to choose from when writing a teamwork personal essay.
Watch: Linda Abraham discusses two main ways you can show the adcom that you are a leader.
Our expert admissions advisors can help you identify your teamwork experiences and guide you as you write them, or assist you with any other component of your application. Learn more about our one-on-one Admissions Consulting Services here.