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! There are more ways than you may realize to prove your chops in this area through an essay about teamwork. Consider the following 4 options:
- Remember: No man is an island
Unless you’ve been living alone on an island for the last several years, you have undoubtedly participated in various groups. You may have been a member of a sports team or dance troupe, a member of a committee on either a volunteer or workplace basis, helped to organize an event, or been a tutor, Big Brother, or Big Sister. In each case you were working with other people. Remember, even if your interaction was only with one other person, you have material to discuss in a teamwork personal statement.
- Put your listening ears on
Teamwork and collaboration require effective listening. If you can discuss a time when you stopped to really listen to others patiently and skillfully, and explained how doing so eased tensions and increased collaboration, that will demonstrate your teamwork skills.
- Discuss morale boosting and conflict resolution
Have you ever helped to inject excitement into a project when enthusiasm was flagging? Brainstormed an idea to strengthen a group or project? These are also examples of teamwork. You may have been a committee member and found a way to get two warring members of the committee to stop fighting and start working together. This is also teamwork (and surely worthy of a peace prize!). Any time you took the initiative to get involved with other people–especially when they are difficult–to find a better way to get things done, find a middle ground, or think up a creative new idea, it’s all teamwork.
- Think small
Effective teamwork can also be shown in very small groups. A client once wrote about her efforts to heal a serious rift in her family after her father passed away and siblings fought for control of the successful family business. An ugly succession fight was underway. The client’s ability to patiently coax cooperation in such an emotionally charged environment, including her “shuttle diplomacy” and active listening among family members, displayed skilled teamwork and leadership. Another client wrote about having organized a trip with a few friends, and how she dealt with a dispute between two of the participants whose bickering threatened to ruin the trip for everyone. Her effective listening, and creatively figuring out an activity that both of the “combatants” would not be able to resist, helped defuse the situation and save the trip from descending into a 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 realize! No doubt you’ll have strong options to choose from when writing a teamwork personal essay.
Our expert admissions advisors can help you identify your teamwork experiences and guide you as you write them…or guide you on any other component of your application. Learn more about our one-on-one Admissions Consulting Services here.By Judy Gruen, former Accepted admissions consultant. Judy holds a Master’s in Journalism from Northwestern University. She is the co-author of Accepted’s first full-length book, MBA Admission for Smarties: The No-Nonsense Guide to Acceptance at Top Business Schools. Want an admissions expert help you get accepted? Click here to get in touch!