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Four types of project partners you’ll encounter

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SEPTEMBER 21, 2023

We’re only a few weeks into the fall semester. I haven’t even picked out what I want to dress up as this Halloween, but my professors are already urging me to “start thinking” about the final project.

I will, I will. But I’m also thinking about the types of people I’ve dealt with — and that I’ve been guilty of being myself — when it comes to group projects.

The leader

Every project has a leader. Or at least every project should have a leader.

College etiquette dictates that the person who sets up the When2meet and the group chat assumes this role. 

Responsibilities include: unironically understanding whatever the heck the guidelines mean on bCourses; making sure the work gets done on time; drafting emails to the professor and GSIs when questions arise; arriving early to the agreed upon work spot to find a table and timing the presentation rehearsals to make sure it’s within the limits.

Benefits include: charting the course for the project; dibs on what portion of the project you’ll work on; being reliable and a high likelihood of a good peer or individual evaluation.

Project leaders tend to have big personalities. Sometimes leaders have a bit of “main character syndrome.” They might guide and lead, or they might boss and command. Regardless, a good leader makes all the difference in a college project.

The procrastinator

We’ve all been guilty of this one at least a little bit.

The procrastinator is someone who pushes off working on the project until the last second. Maybe it’s for a good reason, like watching the Golden Bears steamroll the Cardinal (they seriously should just make it plural already). 

Other times, their excuses get kind of lame. Did they really have something due for another class, again? Or did they just lose track of time by binge watching 90 Day Fiancé? You tell me.

Hopefully this person pulls through. And they usually do, lest they want a poor peer evaluation! But it might require a nudge or two over text.

The specialist

Every project has that one hurdle that is tough to jump over. Maybe it’s the coding portion or a complex Excel sheet deliverable. Maybe it’s an obscure passage of text that needs to be read and cited.

Whatever it may be, the specialist is the person who offers to take care of it. They just happen to specialize in this thing, so they’ll gladly take the job no one else wants. The tradeoff is the underlying agreement that that’s all they’ll do.

It’s like you’re eating a big pizza with your teammates. But one slice of the pie is so cheese-dense, full of toppings and kind of hard to chew. So the most efficient course of action is assigning one person to this slice and letting them digest it while the rest focus on the remainder of the pie.

The aesthetician

Roommates often disagree, even if only slightly, on what the standards of cleanliness are. Usually, the higher standard is adopted, because it’s better to be slightly annoyed by doing dishes more often than it is to deal with dirty dishes.

Just imagine that PowerPoint presentations are the dishes. That’s how the aesthetician sees the world.

They don’t want a PowerPoint that conveys information. They want a PowerPoint that beautifully conveys information. One that tells a story. Slides that inspire emotions. The aesthetician will add in visuals, adjust the font, pick the theme colors and upload all the right images.

Just make sure you get your slides in so they can change it up to how it’s supposed to be done.

There are more types of project partners. They come in so many different forms. The best you can do is communicate effectively and be a team player, because it’s a group project after all. Just remember, I’ll do the intro and the first chapter, then I’ll hand it off to you on slide four.

Contact Rafael Arbex-Murut at 


SEPTEMBER 23, 2023