Teamwork Helps Students Develop Leadership Skills and the Ability to Work with Others

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Teamwork Helps Students Develop Leadership Skills and the Ability to Work with Others

During your time at art school, you will likely have to use teamwork to collaborate with other students on a number of projects. These experiences will help to sharpen your leadership skills and prepare you to succeed in the future when you are expected to use teamwork in the workplace to complete assignments.

“When you’re in a team you’re able to tackle larger scale projects because you can bring in the strengths of different people’s skill sets,” says Jonathan Winbush, a 2006 Visual Effects and Motion Graphics graduate of The Art Institute of Pittsburgh.

Winbush, a motion graphics designer and animator at Warner Brothers Animation, says that some people are strong in areas that others are not, so using teamwork in the workplace can help to pull everyone’s strengths together. 

”In a team effort you take the best of each person and usually the head of the project will combine all the elements together in the end,” Winbush says. 

Anthony Avvento, a 2001 Computer Animation graduate of The Art Institute of Pittsburgh, says the beginning of a project, where all team members get together and bounce ideas around, is his favorite part of the collaborative process. 

“You could think of something great and that idea sparks something bigger from another person, making the product that much better than before,” says Avvento, a 3D artist at Electronic Computer Systems (ECS). 

Avvento says that teamwork is essential in the video games industry, where he is employed. 

“Modern video games are much bigger and more complex than they once were,” Avvento says. 

Avvento says it was common in the past for one person to create a video game by themselves, but now that they have become so complex, hundreds of people across the globe are needed to collaborate on them.

John Harman, a 2008 Video Game Art and Design graduate of The Art Institute of Pittsburgh — Online Division, agrees that teamwork of any kind is a valuable learning experience. 

“By yourself you can only achieve so much,” says Harman, a project manager at Video Gaming Technologies (VGT). “Without that team you can't always see what needs to be improved upon. With other people to bounce ideas off of or to collaborate on designs with, you can reach higher and do something that will likely appeal to more people in the end.”

There’s No ‘I’ in Teamwork

 During your time in art school, you may find yourself stuck on a group project with a person who isn’t pulling their weight. Although situations like these are very frustrating, know that consequences for slacking can be even more severe in the workplace. 

“In a professional setting when a lot of money is on the line the art director and producers keep a pretty good eye on what’s going on,” Winbush says. “If you’re not pulling your own weight then you usually get sent home and everyone knows everyone in this business so word of mouth will travel fast.” 

If time allows, Avvento says it is always good to try to talk to a team member that isn’t pulling their weight, to try and get a better understanding of the situation. 

“You have to look at what the issues are and deal with it sooner rather than later before it hurts the project,” Avvento says.

 Harman says that in his experience, group members not pulling their weight happens less often than one would expect.

“As a project manager for a creative team, there can be times where some people jump in more fully than others,” Harman says. “The key is to get everyone involved and excited about the project.”

 Learn Leadership Skills and Build a Network of Connections

Winbush, Avvento, and Harman agree that working on group projects while they were in school helped to prepare them to use teamwork in the workplace. 

“When I was working on group student projects I made some good friends that I have kept in touch with to this day and have even worked on a feature length film with one of them,” Winbush says.

Winbush says that he still keeps in contact with some of the people he worked on group projects with, while they were in school together. He says that he feels so confident in their work ethic that he has put his name on the line and recommended them for work in Los Angeles studios where he has connections. 

Harman says that one of his final group projects actually helped him to figure out his future career path. For this project, he was put in the role of producer, which helped him to develop leadership skills and gave him a general overview of what it was like to manage a team. 

“The closer you can replicate the real world the less time you will need to get adjusted,” Avvento says. “One of my first jobs out of school was working for the U.S. Army in Training and Simulation. They had a saying ‘We train the way we fight,’ and I think that idea can be applied to school. Learn the way you will work.”