a stack of magazines

Hey, Can You Work On My Project With Me?

Senior thesis is, in some ways, one giant favor.

For communication majors, it’s almost impossible to complete thesis alone. A video project needs actors. A fashion show needs models. A book needs an illustrator.

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And it’s not just us: Bio majors reach out to researchers in their field for guidance, English students connect with librarians and professors for peer reviews, artists ask their friends to pose for hour-long sessions, and so on.

Your advisors might make this process seem easy, but I’ll share the hard truth with you: When you have nothing but eternal gratitude to offer your fellow students, asking for help can be awkward, frustrating, and often fruitless.

In my case, I wanted to find writers and photographers to contribute to my satirical magazine. At first, I worried that my friends — who know Laidback Weekend Jen, not Professional Thesis Jen — wouldn’t view me as a serious editor. I worried that my inability to pay contributors for their work would prompt talented writers to roll their eyes and say, “Is this girl serious?” For a second, I even worried that my plea for pitches would turn into an oh-my-god-I-have-no-friends anxiety attack.

Finding writers [for my magazine] was difficult, but you know what? The writing that was submitted is so strong that it’s pushing me to be better.

While the concept of my thesis attracted more eager readers than I expected, I was sort of right: Finding writers was difficult. I looked for potential satirists through social media, heard back from a few, and received even fewer submissions. And my second call, which garnered only one or two articles, was worse.

But you know what? The writing that was submitted is so strong that it’s pushing me to be better. I might be taking on the bulk of the articles, but including other voices in my magazine has already elevated the humor and sharpened its edge.

When it comes to thesis — or any project, for that matter — you’ll be bursting at the seams with ideas. You’ll want to do everything on your own. You’ll convince yourself that you can battle the monster alone.

Don’t. Take the awkward step. Not everyone will jump to help, but those who do will think of things you never thought of. No matter what your major is, outside perspective from mentors, contributors, or editorial eyes will improve the final product.

It’s better to attack the thesis monster with a team — especially a team that notices typos.

Photo: Grant Hutchinson