THE BLOG

Guidance for the Naive Undergraduate - Part Twelve: There Is No 'I' in Team, But There Is a 'Me'!

29/07/2015 16:42 BST | Updated 26/07/2016 10:59 BST

During your time at university and as is governed by the varying forms of academic assessment, you are likely to find yourself indulging in the 'this could go either way' delights of group work and recruiting for your very own version of The Breakfast Club.

My own experiences of exclusion from teams and structures of other such ilk stretch right back to my numerous rejections from the football team at school. More often than not I would be left on the shelf, alongside Sebastian Coyne who had hyperhidrosis and chronic asthma, so effectively I was the last one standing. This meant that it was either me or the bench, Robert Merry, a boy who had tracksuits on prescription and was infatuated with the notion of stabbing me chose the bench and made the decision to put it in goal, which demonstrated quite a bit of logic for him, given that he had the brain density of a slice of ham.

I recently saw a meme on Twitter that said "when I die, I want my former group work members to lower me into my grave so they can let me down one last time". I can immediately appreciate such a sentiment and believe that there are copious amounts of undergraduates everywhere who have been lumbered with a group member who ensures that the arse falls out of the project.

During my degree, my comrades and I decided to host a charity event for our group work task; a charity event that would feature tombola, karaoke and various craft stalls. We made the communal decision to have a piece de resistance on our tombola stall and this was to be a cake of sheer wonder. The duty to bake such a treat was delegated to our fellow member, Erika. This was a decision that we were to later learn was a mistake, Erika was a few years older and being from the Philippines there was a slight language barrier. This later manifested itself when she asked the lecturer what a dildo was, if anything, the atmosphere went so silent you could have heard its vibrating counterpart with relative ease.

On the day, Erika arrived with the cake, the cake that was to be the pinnacle of all the tombola prizes on offer that day. It was clear from an ever so subtle peak under its container that Erika had chosen to bake a cheesecake, now you may be ahead of me here but just let me describe what a cheesecake it was. It was a cheesecake, divide the compound, cheese and a cake, and re-acquaint them, cheesecake. Erika had chosen to bake what can only be described as a cake made from cheese. I do not know whether the aforementioned language barrier had played a part in this debacle of epic sponge and mainly cheddar based proportions, however, we can perhaps assume it did indeed hold some form of responsibility for this immeasurable kitchen tragedy.

The cake itself was a rectangular sponge, quite large in fact. It was covered in grated cheese, and where jam for example would be on a victoria sponge or traditional birthday cake; you would discover square slices of Cathedral City's finest. It was intimidating to look at and did attract quite the flash mob of disturbed faces and concerned onlookers. As the day progressed, 'that cake' as those in the institution had begun to call it remained untouched with no requests fuelled by pure intrigue to sample it. That was until some chap came along and enquired as to whether he could purchase the entire cake, why I hear you cry? Because he believed and I shit you not that that was what a cheesecake was supposed to be like.

You may ponder as to how two people can exist in our very universe with such a fleeting common sense, well stop press because there was a third perpetrator in this equation. It turned out that the lovely Erika had in fact not played a part in the baking of the cake for she had outsourced her duty and it was revealed that Erika had actually visited a baker and paid them to make the cake for her.

My advice to you on this occasion is essential and ever so simple; always have a high standard and a fixed criterion when recruiting members for your group work. Pre-pubescent boys with strong desires to commit grievous bodily harm, slackers, those afflicted with laziness and individuals who ask respected academics what a dildo is and top their baking with an assortment of camembert, monetary jack, red leicester and dairylea need not apply.