How My First Experience on a Virtual Team Lead to Me Developing Global Virtual Team Building Strategies

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Joseph Porchetta, Student & Alumni

Purdue University’s online MS communication program requires a total of 10 courses to complete, which six are core courses with four electives that are selected based on the student’s interests.

Each course involves reading assignments, mini projects and a final project within an 8-week accelerated format.

I haven’t been in school for over twenty years and was nervous starting my first course in strategic communication. After about 4-weeks into the course, I was debating on giving up until I reached out to my professor explaining my long absence from academia.  He offered to help me through many email exchanges and gave me the confidence to continue going forward. My first research paper, The Impact of Social Media on College Sports, was a success. I received an outstanding grade and according to my professor it may have been the best paper in the class. The rest was history. At that moment, I knew I was in the right communication graduate program and with the right university. Throughout the program, I experienced instructors who cared and wanted to see their students succeed.

In the global strategic communication course, I experienced my first group final-project assignment. At first, I was skeptical of doing a group project within an online communication graduate program. How could we do this successfully? Don’t we need to interact face-to-face to successfully complete a group project? In my career within the financial industry, I never experienced working in a virtual team setting until this project. Essentially, this project allowed me to gain experience working in a distant team and using various forms of technology to communicate with my classmates. In all my group projects, I experienced great cooperation among classmates. Group project members would naturally gravitate toward using their best skills in tackling parts of the project. In this class, as Apple executives, my group was very successful in developing an international communication plan in order to expand the company’s business and image in China. It was fun sharing ideas among my group and developing a strategic plan using communication strategies based on a different culture.

Another favorite group project was in the communication research methods course. We had to develop a communication plan based on quantitative and qualitative analysis to promote the Brian Lamb School of Communications (BLSC). Our team member locations represented Seattle, Minneapolis and New Jersey, which is my location.  One great aspect about this project was the opportunity of working with real communication professionals in the field, who work on marketing research and strategic planning in major corporations. It felt like I was actually working in the field and gaining applied knowledge based on the concepts we were studying in the course. We broke the project into three parts by assuming responsibility based on our best skills or comfort level. Since I had more of a technical background, I gravitated toward working on the technical parts of the project. At the same time, we all checked each other’s work. We received an outstanding grade and our presentation was forwarded to the BLSC leadership for review.This project was truly a team effort in which we were very proud of the outcome and I gained real-world experience from professionals in the field.

My success with group projects, which were conducted in virtual teams, compelled me to choose the topic, Global Virtual Team Strategies, for my final research paper in the leadership and global strategic communication course. This research enhanced my knowledge of strategies required for a leader to succeed in the 21st century. Most importantly, I discovered the positive leadership traits I have. Boiler up!

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Joseph Porchetta is an alumni of Purdue’s online Master of Science in Communication degree program. The program can be completed in just 20 months and covers numerous topics critical for advancement in the communication industry, including crisis communication, social media engagement, focus group planning and implementation, survey design and survey analysis, public relations theory, professional writing, and communication ethics.

*The views and opinions expressed are of the author and do not represent the Brian Lamb School of Communication.