High School Horror Stories: I Had a...

High School Horror Stories: I Had a Project Partner Who Did Absolutely Nothing

by Tiffany Chang
Jobs People Do | JobsPeopleDo.com

Depending on the classmates you’re assigned to work with, navigating projects involving multiple people can result in very different scenarios. For those that are best-case, every group member does their share and once it’s time to submit the project, everything goes smoothly. Worst-case ones, however, typically entail one or two people completing all the work while others remain irresponsible throughout the entire process. Fair delegation is virtually non-existent, ultimately creating inevitable tension amongst the group. I experienced the latter – and saying that this experience was “challenging” wouldn’t even begin to describe it.

About a decade ago, for one of my elective courses, our class’s first major term project required an 8-10-page written report as well as a presentation. At this point, I had never done a project like this before and was quite nervous.

The project was meant to be done in pairs. I partnered up with someone (who, of course, will remain anonymous) who seemed to be nice and hard-working. Little did I know that this was a huge mistake.

After we decided to be partners, I would try my best to contact the person and set up times to meet outside of school so we could work on the project. But this was a nearly impossible feat. Every time I tried to do so, something always came up or they simply never responded. I also always had to cater to my partner’s needs and not only that, whenever we did work together, they’d be distracted and look at their phone the entire time. I took the initiative, and this person couldn’t even try their best to get their part of the project done.

After countless tries to work collaboratively to no avail, I decided that I had enough. I went to see our teacher and explained the whole situation. Luckily for me, our teacher understood. They then said they’d evaluate us individually, so I made the decision to complete the entire project on my own. Though at this point I was definitely relieved that I didn’t have to deal with my partner anymore, it felt extremely intimidating as I was now taking on, as stated above, an 8-10-page report and in-class presentation (which I planned to have a PowerPoint slideshow to go along with) all alone.

Interestingly enough, I had written formal essays before but never a report just needing straightforward facts. I also wasn’t used to typing reports out on the computer (another requirement) and at this length, for that matter, so it was a slow process, which made it all the more nerve-wracking.

The night before the project was due, I remember lying in bed, shaking, and breaking into a sweat. I had barely slept and dreaded presenting in front of the class. The next day (presentation day), when I saw my partner, I was so angry that I couldn’t speak. They then sat next to me and actually asked if I made sure everything was prepared for us. They thought I had the project covered and expected me to share my work with them. But I clarified that I was doing the presentation by myself as well as taking all the credit for the work I did.

When it came time for me to present, I was terrified. I started out fine, but halfway through, I panicked and thought I couldn’t continue. However, our teacher said I was doing well and encouraged me to finish my presentation. The vote of confidence meant a great deal to me, so I ended up resuming from where I left off and finished it. Afterward, I felt incredibly relieved that the project was finally over.

The following week, grades were posted, and I was awarded an “A” for my project. I recall feeling proud of myself, but also truly appreciated the support I received from our teacher.

Overall, although I’d say this was one of the worst experiences I’ve ever gone through as a student, I showed myself that I had the resilience to complete what needed to be done. If you put your mind to something and have the determination to finish what you start, it might take you on a difficult path, but it will be worth it in the end.

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