In addition to exams, papers and chores, another type of service provision has been established in recent years: the project work. When working on projects, you usually work with several fellow students on a practical job in business or industry. By solving a practical problem, you should prove that you are able to apply your theoretical knowledge in practice.
What is a project work?
The term “projects” is well defined. According to the Deutsches Institut der Normen (abbreviated to DIN) 69901, a project “is a project characterized essentially by the uniqueness but also the constant of the conditions as a whole, such as target, time, financial, personnel and other limitations, demarcation towards other projects and project-specific organization “.
In short, this means that a project has a well-defined beginning and a well-defined end. Everything that is between the beginning and the end is also clearly defined – in its scope (work packages) and also in its objectives (milestones and results).
Each successfully completed work package ends in a milestone. Milestones are used to regularly review the concrete progress of a project. Milestones are the measure of project progress. Personally, the progress of the project is controlled by a project manager. He is the main person responsible for the project and has to ensure that the project is implemented successfully and in compliance with the deadlines set. There are various project staff available to him, who are responsible for the implementation of the individual task packages.
What does working on a project do for you?
The project work is not automatically associated with a grade at all universities and technical colleges. Then one wonders, of course, even more, whether one should do voluntarily the cooperation in a project. The answer is very clear: yes.
After all, working on a project not only offers an exciting challenge and helps you to look outside the box and to smell the fresh breeze of the practice world, it also has other advantages:
You train your teamwork skills
As part of a study, you quickly become a lone fighter. Project work, on the other hand, means teamwork. You will see how much fun it is to work together to solve a problem. Each one brings with them a variety of skills that can be incorporated into the project and can be the decisive factor in the success of a project. Of course, this also leads to friction, blame and differences in the distribution of tasks and responsibilities.
But if you look at the first results, pride and the feeling of having created something great together outweigh it.
You will learn basic knowledge of project management
Most companies nowadays also think and work in projects. Large corporations in particular have projects that have to be implemented across departments and outside of day-to-day business. If you are already acquiring basic knowledge of project management as part of a project work as a student, you can score points later in the CV.
You can practically apply your theoretical knowledge
Sometimes you wonder why you learn all this? In the project work you can find the answer to this question. Working on a project gives you the opportunity to apply your theoretical knowledge to a specific, often experimental, question. Especially for students of computer science or mathematical-technical subjects here arise great opportunities to make letters and numbers tangible products that solve a real problem.
How does a project work during my studies work?
Participation in a project is usually divided into five phases:
Theme and definition of project scope
At the beginning of the project, the topic and the related questions and tasks always have to be precisely defined. It is important that from the beginning there is agreement on the so-called project scope. It should be noted in writing what is part of the project and what is not.
Collection of materials and planning
The second step is to gather all the information about your topic that could help you in your project. Are there books on the subject? Are there any results and experiences from previous projects? Are there any trustworthy sources on the internet?
Based on this information, the project team then discusses which approach and which solutions exist and which one is best for the project. The result must then be transferred to a project plan.
The project plan is one of the most important components of a project.
He regulates the order of the individual work packages and determines deadlines and responsibilities. A good project plan should always contain enough time buffer, if something does not go that well. In case of doubt it would be better to set up a conservative plan than one that can not be kept.
The theme is, the project plan is ready, now it’s time for the most exciting part: the implementation.
Every project employee starts work packages in his area. In regular project rounds one exchanges information about the progress in the individual work packages. Is the project on schedule? Can all milestones be held or adjustments made?
It is very important that you regularly check whether the project is going according to plan and intervening if necessary. Without tight project controlling, projects quickly get out of hand. Especially when there are many work packages or many project employees work on them. Some project teams also use electronic communication tools for regular exchange with all project members – for example a project wiki, Google Hangouts, Dropbox or Skype.
Result and presentation
At the end of a project there is always a result. It does not always have to be a product. The result of a project can also be that you have taught a given number of people a new software, or that you have acquired a new knowledge in a particular area.
This result must now be recorded – be it in the form of a presentation or a kind of housework. Here there are different requirements from university to university. Inquire early with your project supervisor, how the result of your project should be presented.