About how much time does it take to be an effective LINC Project Manager?

To gain the most from the experience and to perform well, you will need to make an investment. It is important to realize that most prior PMs have indicated that they underestimated the unique challenge and time commitment needed to be successful, despite our warnings during the interview process. Do not overload your schedule with too many academic, extracurricular, and work commitments during the semester that you PM for a LINC course. Your team and project will suffer, and you will not enjoy the experience as much as you will if you plan the time commitment accordingly. This is a signature leadership experience that will pay returns on that investment.

Budget 12-15 hours per week as follows:
a) 3 hours for ENG 315 class time, normally arranged as two 80-minute class sessions on T/R
b) 2 hours for ENG 598 (Fridays 10:00-11:50 a.m. OR Fridays 1:00-2:50 p.m)
c) 7-10 hours for class preparation, project management, ENG 598 work, and/or grading – this varies weekly and depends upon the division of labor you select with your co-PM.

Do I need to have taken LINC (ENG 315) as a student prior to applying to be a Project Manager?
It is not a prerequisite to have taken a LINC course to be selected as a Project Manager. However, undergraduates who have taken a LINC course are better prepared and often perform more effectively in the program. It helps to have some prior exposure to the curriculum, assignments, and instructional activities that you will ultimately be guiding as a LINC PM. In that way, your learning curve may be slightly less steep than some of your peers. Advanced undergraduates (Juniors and Seniors) who have not been in a LINC course previously may be selected if they have experience and skills related to teaching, group facilitation, and project management. We provide the support and tools for those students to be successful.

Graduate students who are selected to become LINC PMs typically do not have prior experience as LINC students. However, they usually bring professional experience, strong facilitation skills, and maturity to the position; including a more extensive background related to teaching, research, project management, and/or industry or nonprofit work experience.

Will I be taught how to be a LINC Project Manager? 

Yes, PMs participate in pre-semester training during the week before classes begin and engage in ongoing education/training activities throughout the semester through enrollment in ENG 598: Applied Project Management (4 credits). You will receive a lot of guidance and support from the instructional staff and will become part of a community of project managers who can be quite helpful with providing advice, sharing course materials, giving feedback on your facilitation skills, etc.

I will not be back to campus until after the LINC pre-semester training. Is training required to be a LINC PM?

Yes, it is required, and a necessary component to your success as a PM. The challenges of being a LINC PM are unique, and prior teacing or management experiences alone will not provide a sufficient background. You will learn new things that you will be responsible for implementing in your section, and the training will be interactive and responsive to the needs of the group. Many issues for which you may be unfamiliar will become transparent through the activites and discussion (i.e., you'll develop a better understanding of what you know and what you still neeed to learn to perform well as a LINC PM). Pre-semester training is not something that can be "made up" easily, and you'll need that time to connect with your Co-PM and prepare for the beginning of the semester. Please arrange your schedule to attend the entire training.

What is the best part of being a LINC PM?
You will experience a great deal of personal and professional development. A compelling part about being a LINC PM is that you will encounter real management challenges in an authentic setting. You will have ample opportunity to develop your leadership skills and to have those skills tested in practice. If you are committed to the process and invested as a learner, you will leave the experience with true accomplishments that will be noteworthy to prospective employers, grad schools, etc.

Being a LINC PM is very rewarding, and you can expect to learn/gain the following:

  • Enhanced skills in communication, professional writing, leading multi-disciplinary teams, problem-solving, critical thinking, conflict resolution, evaluation, organizing and prioritizing tasks, and time management
  • Knowledge, skills, and experience in applied project management
  • Experience working with diverse students, partners, and project stakeholders in authentic, community-based contexts
  • Satisfaction in guiding students to be socially responsible citizens
  • Knowledge, skills, and experience in teaching techniques
  • A sense of accomplishment in making a meaningful impact in the community and in the lives of students

What is the most difficult part of being a LINC PM?
You will need to be committed and ready for the challenge. There are a few things to keep in mind when you are a LINC PM. Many ENG 315 students come to this course with the notion that it is a “blow-off” or “easy-A” course and might have the misperception that "doing service" in the community is easy. This is not the case, and in some respects, students might find it more challenging than their normal classes due to its emphasis on self-directed learning and teamwork, the amount of research and writing involved, and the emotions that they may encounter upon the realization that making a significant difference in the community will require a great deal of them.

You serve as a guide, coach, and leader, not a lecturer/content expert. However, it is important to plan your class lessons carefully using the LINC instructional materials provided, advice from the instructional team, your vision for the project, an understanding of what knowledge, skills, and attitudes are needed from the student team, and your good judgment. This is not a passive role. We provide a great deal of support and structure and are committed to the success of PMs, but you will need to be proactive and disciplined in your approach to sharing critical information with the staff, seeking out guidance/feedback, and identifying when things might be off-track with the project or team.

Unlike regular college courses, there is no real downtime. This is a project for which you and the students are responsible. There will be times in which the team becomes frustrated or lost when attempting to find an effective solution or figuring out next steps for the project. This is normal, and if you can keep the project progressing, the challenges can become significant learning experiences. Attention will need to be given to helping students to build and enhance their skills in effective teamwork in community-based projects. Another challenging part of being a LINC PM is creating an effective communication pattern with your Community Partner, Co-PM, students, and instructional staff. Consistent, planned, honest communication leads to better results and enhanced learning. 

What happens if I need to be away for a class session or two?
That is one reason we have two PMs for each section. It is not uncommon to miss a class in order to attend a conference, interview for jobs, etc. Just plan in advance for your absences with your co-PM and inform the LINC instructional staff. Typically, a PM from another section will be able to serve as a substitute for the day.

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