In Professional Writing, students learn a wide variety of skills, ranging from web design, to grant writing, to editing. Along with learning these skills, Professional Writing students have the opportunity to focus on real life situations and apply these skills on projects with real clients. Stuart Blythe’s WRA 202: Introduction to Professional Writing class got the opportunity to work with the Office for International Students and Scholars (OISS) on projects concerning international student relations.
OISS is an office that prides itself on giving support to MSU’s international students, scholars, and families. They provide advising, help with immigration standards, and conduct orientations to help international students adjust to life at MSU. They also serve as a liason between US Government agencies, foreign embassies, and sponsors, and provide opportunities for growth at MSU.
Over the course of the semester, the WRA 202 students worked on two different projects for OISS.
Their first task was to redesign the program’s Curricular Practical Training (CPT) forms. These forms are used by international students in order to get work-study internships in the US. Prior to the PW students’ help, these forms were overly long and instruction heavy, and were often being filled out incorrectly by students. Kelsi Lerner claims this project helped develop her skills as a professional writer, especially in regards to audience. “Not only did the projects have to be clear and simple enough for your average reader to understand, but also an International student who may have a minimal understanding of the English language. I think in this way, the projects really helped me understand how to write well, not just subjectively speaking, but also for the audience that my writing is directed at.”
The second project was to design a communications strategy for OISS with the goal of increasing interaction between international and US students. OISS wanted to increase attendance at their events to help international students form relationships here at MSU. In order to do this, the students researched relations on campus among US and international students, and brainstormed ways to encourage students to participate more in outreach events planned by OISS. Anna Meyers, a student in the 202 class, said that “the biggest challenge in this assignment was coming up with something new. We had to think of a strategy that hadn’t been done before.”
Broken up into groups, the students presented their findings. Here are some of the recommendations they found for OISS:
- Forge collaborative relationships with other groups on campus. If students view OISS as for international students, perhaps OISS could invite other groups (e.g., fraternities and sororities, on-campus clubs) to co-sponsor events.
- Forge relationships first, and use communication to support those relationships.
- Target large, first-year classes. If students are more likely to forge new relationships early in their college careers, a way to reach them may be through large classes in the first year.
- Look for ways to reward U.S.-international collaborations.
- Consider hiring a social media intern.
Impressed with the work of the students, Yuanfang Dai, an advisor for OISS, recently contacted Stuart Blythe to brainstorm ways to increase relationships between US and international students. She also expressed interest in gaining the help of some of the 202 students in planning outreach events for the program.
Projects like this are the reason that professional writers become so successful post-graduation. The Professional Writing major allows students to study many different areas, and develop a well-rounded assortment of skills. With experience in audience profiling, communication, document design, web authoring, editing, and more, students are able to get a large range of jobs.