All posts by Haley Erb

Off the Beaten Path: PWs as Explorers, Entrepreneurs, and More


Professional Writing is an undeniably unique program. This uniqueness is manifested in many wonderful ways, but it can be hard to explain, even for a practiced rhetorician. Thanksgivings and family Christmases come around and the less up-to-date family members invariably ask “How is school?” and “What are you studying?”. Then, if you’re particularly unlucky, you get the follow up:

“And what are you going to do with that?”

Professional Writing doesn’t come with a convenient answer, unlike job-title ready degrees such as Nursing or Accounting. The same quality that makes PW amazingly flexible is what makes this question difficult to answer concisely.

But while you can’t predict your own personal future, you can learn from the past and present. Alumni with a PW degree are living proof that the answers to “So what are you going to do with that?” are varied and personal and sometimes even completely unexpected. So while there may never be a perfect one phrase answer, there’s hundreds of examples to show off and learn from.

One such example comes from Angela Shetler, 2005 graduate. When she graduated she tried a few jobs where she got the chance to get some editing and publishing experience. Unfortunately, it still seemed like something was missing. And that’s when Shetler took a risk and moved out to Japan, where she taught English for three years. “If you had told me back in 2005 that this would be the path my career would take, I wouldn’t have believed you. It’s definitely been an adventure.” Now Shetler is teaching rhetoric and writing at the University of Sydney, as part of a program that she calls “the first of its kind in Australia.”

Other Professional Writing alumni have taken their skills abroad as well. Ryan Wyeth, class of 2010, relocated to China for a contract where he worked as an English teacher. He now works as a freelance translator, an undertaking that he describes as demanding, but also rewarding. “I enjoy the satisfaction of being able to look over a completed translation project and see the quality in my own work. I know that I produce translations that convey the intended message but do so in a fluid, stylish manner.” Continue reading