Category: Melissa Barnes-Milton

6 Things Every Team Player Should Know

6 Things Every Team Player Should Know

At some point in our lives, we find ourselves working in a group to accomplish something.  Group projects and collaborations are becoming more and more prevalent in academia and the professional sector.  I played basketball growing up and joined the Marine Corps after high school. Many of the teamwork and collaborative skills I picked up during my formative years are super useful to me today in academia and the professional work setting.  Here are some pointers:


Get to know your teammates. I can’t tell you how many times ‘personalities clashed’ in a collaborative work environment.  The funny part is, everyone in the group generally wants the same thing: the successful completion of a task.  Getting to know your colleagues means learning their personality traits, their strengths, and weaknesses. It’s here when you learn the most effective (or ineffective) way to communicate to them.

We had a new person join our D Center tutoring staff. This individual was generally quiet in a group setting. One on one this person opens up and shares new ideas and asks question. I am an outgoing and loquacious person. I know that because of my personality I have a tendency to talk over others. Listening was one of my weaknesses. By working on my weakness, I was helping my teammate with hers. In a group meeting, I made it a point to engage her directly three times. Whether it was a question for her, her input, or check in with her I made it a point to talk to her and actually listen to what she had to say.  This, in turn, made her feel more included and part of a team. It can be difficult joining a team late in the game that is already close-knit.

This interaction not only benefitted the individual and me; it benefitted the team as a whole. This person brought new ideas and perspective, and a fresh set of eyes to the group dynamic. This ties into my next point:


Think beyond you, think about the team and the goal. What happens when the team doesn’t go with your plan or idea? What happens if they don’t take your advice or suggestion? Move on. The will of the team is not always the will of a particular individual. Understand this and moving on becomes a bit easier. As along as the team is headed toward the goal, does it matter if they chose a different way of doing the same thing? No? Then move on.


Group disagreements are natural. This is the fundamental nature of groups. How you work through a group disagreement is what makes or breaks a group.  Read the group, listen to your colleagues. Don’t over-talk or disrespect anyone. Remember the goal as a whole, and remember that disagreements are supposed to happen. Negotiate and compromise.


Everyone one should have an assigned task or job with a clear deadline.  How the tasks are assigned is just as important as assigning them.  It’s probably not a good idea to bark orders at everyone in your environmental science class or your internship.  First, as a group, identify all the tasks that need to be done. If you’re writing a paper as a group, the outline should suffice. Then ask everyone what they would like to do. Make sure the tasks are evenly distributed. When people pick their duties, that is a form of ownership and accountability.  When you ask them ‘When do you think you can have that done by?’ that is another kind of accountability and ownership.


When do you leave the group?  Sometimes groups formed to complete a specific goal, i.e. volunteers for an event or convention or school project. Once the goal is met and the project is over the group naturally disbands. What about organizational committees, work, and other group settings where goals change but the collaborative element doesn’t?  A thriving group is one that is always adapting and growing. Each individual contributes something to the whole while simultaneously getting something in return; i.e. developed skill, compensation, network connections, joy, personal satisfaction, and growth, etc. When an individual is no longer contributing to the group, that person is sand-bagging or dead weight.  When an individual is contributing the to the group but is not getting anything out of it, address it. After careful evaluation and reflection, perhaps the needs of the individual and the needs of the group has changed, in any case, it may be time to leave.


You shouldn’t have to compromise who you are to be a team player.  If you’re an introvert, you don’t have to be suddenly outgoing to be a ‘well rounded’ team player. Someone with a bubbly friendly disposition shouldn’t have to shrink themselves in a group setting. The only person you need to be better than is the person you were yesterday. You are what the team needs.



When You’re Unique But Your Resume Template isn’t

boring vs. interesting resume layout

Imagine eating at a Michelin 3-star restaurant and  the dish you are about to be served is a creamy parmigiana risotto prepared by a world renowned chef. You are sitting at the table and the waiter brings two plates with the same items. You can smell the cream sauce and see the steam wisping in the air as they place the dishes in front of you. The garnishments accent the dish and provide color that compliments the risotto. Both dishes are identical except for one thing. The risotto on the left is served on a paper plate and the risotto on the right is served on a square ceramic plate. The difference in the plate changes the whole experience even though the food is the same.

This is what templates are; they are plates for you to place your selling point.

When looking to land a job or internship you are convincing potential employers and clients to hire you. You are saying “I am a valuable asset that your company needs”.  If you are using a generic or overused  template your resume is working against you, it’s saying “I lack imagination and creativity”.

There are some different ways to add some pep to your resume:

  • Formatting can make a world of difference
  • Your resume isn’t just on paper. Make it dynamic
  • A picture is worth a thousand words
  • Show, don’t tell. Hyperlinks are a great way to show what you can do. You could link to your written work, video presentation, an article you really like that’s relevant to your field
  • Avoid using commonly used templates in Microsoft Word, Google Docs, and Pages
  • I recommend using Adobe Illustrator to create resumes, but you can use what works for you.
  • You can find free templates like this awesome one that’s editable in Adobe Illustrautrator.
  • There are templates for resumes and cover letters you can purchase too, just keep in mind the file format. For instance say, you  want  a particular template in .doc format but  it’s only available as .ai file.


Free Clean and Minimal Resume Template

Graphic River Resume Templates

I’m a senior, is it too late for a digital portfolio?

I’m a senior, is it too late for a digital portfolio?

Short answer: Nope.

Isn’t a digital portfolio like an online resume?

No, yeah. But, no.

Resume, cover letters, and even LinkedIn  can  tell employers only so much about you. What if you’re science major that can speak two languages? What if you are an English major but also a violinist? A chemist who loves to volunteer? The point is, there is more to you than your resume and cover letter. You’re awesome, show it off. Make me interested in what you’re interested in.

Aren’t digital portfolios for artists?

People want to be shown something, not told something.


Portfolios. The non-digital kind.
Portfolios. The non-digital kind.

Visuals are interesting and memorable.


Showing  things that people are used to reading demonstrates creativity.

Digital Portfolios are digital places used to hold digital stuff. Much like actual portfolios:

Everyone needs something to hold their stuff.  Everyone has digital stuff that needs to be held together. Conclusion: Digital Portfolios aren’t just for artists.



So, I am a [non-art] major, what do I put in my digital portfolio?


  • Presentations, like SpARC
  • Video recordings of you speaking a foreign language. (Showing and not just telling what you know.)
  • Study abroad journals, reflections, photos
  • Your resume, cv, and work
  • You’re probably an artist but just didn’t know it.
    • Photos and videos from experiences that relate to your academic growth (abroad, organization, internship, service project, etc.)
    • Original artwork
    • Performance piece
  • Organize your web presence with plugins
    • Social media, blogs, Linkedin, Flickr
  • Rough drafts, works in progress, and screenshots of your work-flow
    • CAD, Adobe Suite, other industry programs or applications
  • Interviews
  • Articles, journals, or books that you have read that are relevant to your field, a short reflection is a bonus.
  • Get creative


How do I get started?

Free: Many free blog hosting services to choose from

  • WordPress 
  • Google Blogger 
  • Tumblr
  • Weebly
  • LifeJournal 
  • so many more

While free is awesome, it is limited in customization options, features, and plugins. 

Paid: Pretty much the list above but not free.

You typically get more features out of this option, more flexibility, more plugins, themes, etc. Prices can range from about $50 to around $300 a year.   

A domain is encouraged but certainly not required. You can start with a free account and later you can decide if getting a domain is right for you. If you decided to purchase your own domain you can migrate your content from your old site to your new one.

Once you pick a platform and get everything set up: add content.


Adding content

There are many ways to organize your .com home.  Some ideas:

  • Just add stuff, then organize. This way is kind of messy but organic
  • Create an outline (this would be your site map)
  • Look at examples and then tweak








Even More Examples: – This is a H.S. AP Anatomy portfolio – Environmental educator,  LSU  – Public Relations/Communication, LSU – Civil Engineering, LSU – Linguistics, LSU – Electrical Engineering, Auburn – Biological Sciences, Auburn – Professional and Public Writing, Auburn – Ecological Engineer, Auburn – Travel Blog by Matt Harding


TL;DR Make an appointment with a D Center tutor

5 plugins you can use while you study abroad!

5 plugins you can use while you study abroad!

WP Google Maps Error

In order for your map to display, please make sure you insert your Google Maps JavaScript API key in the Maps->Settings->Advanced tab.

Want to remember your trip forever but don’t have the time to post? Use these 5 plugins for your wordpress to easily publish where you were, and what you did complete with photos.

  1. Pinterest Pin it Icon  lets viewers pin your  awesome photos that you post while abroad.
  2. WP Google Maps  lets you create custom maps with pins. You can pin a location by address or lat/long information. See sample below:    
  3. For something simpler  or to make your pages/posts map pins check out My Simple Travel Map Plugin.
  4. Instagram Feed  allows you to embed your Instagram feed on your site. This is a great way to post photos while abroad.
  5. You can also turn your Instagram photos into blog post automatically with Instagrate.

Not sure what a plugin is? Want to know more? Check out this short video on about WordPress Plugins.