Seeking Communication Management Interns

WRAC has been very fortunate to have three outstanding interns for the past several months who have been steadily growing and cultivating our online community. Dan Nufer, Noelle Sciarini, and Vanessa Levin-Pompetzki are the department’s second group of Communications Management Interns and they have done outstanding work maintaining and expanding WRAC’s presence on the web and in social networks. Unfortunately for us, Dan and Vanessa will be moving on after this semester, so the search is on for someone to fill their very big shoes for summer and fall. They still have some time left this semester, so Dan, Noelle, and Vanessa took a moment to talk about the internship, what it entails and what they’re taking away from it:



If you’re interested in being one of the WRAC Communications Management Interns for summer or fall 2011, or just want more information, contact Laura Julier ( Complete details about the position are available below.


Jamming for Japan: PWers Plan a Festival to Aid Earthquake Relief

With support from local businesses such as Espresso Royale, Biggby Coffee, Outer Graphics Design, Splash of Color, Re-Threads, and The City of East Lansing as well as numerous musicians and media outlets, Jamming for Japan is working to bring the East Lansing community together to aid Japanese disaster victims.

Designed to raise funds for victims of the Japanese earthquake, Jamming for Japan will take place on April 16, 2011, from noon to 6 PM. There will be music, fun, and plenty of opportunities to contribute to worldwide efforts to relieve the suffering.

Each year in April, the internationally celebrated Record Store Day brings droves of music lovers of all sorts to Grand River Avenue in East Lansing, MI. This year, by drawing upon the audience already committed to Record Store Day, East Lansing’s The Record Lounge hopes to raise a sizable fund to contribute to the Japan relief effort. It has booked over twenty bands to perform at three outdoor locations across downtown East Lansing:

Throughout each of the 30-minute sets, bands will announce the location of several donation boxes throughout downtown. All funds earned from these donations will be sent to the Red Cross to aid in relief efforts.

The three Professional Writing students responsible for this event–Ali White, Joel Heckaman, and Dan Nufer (pictured right)–have taken community engagement to a new level by voluntarily producing a massive community event that applies knowledge learned in PW courses to a pressing community need. The PW students worked fast and hard to produce graphic and textual materials, contact multiple media outlets, and plan each detail of the event.

East Lansing has its share of festivals, but the city has not yet seen an event quite like Jamming for Japan. Heckaman and Nufer planned a similar event in January titled Middle of the Mitten; the Jamming for Japan group is excited that this event is able to bring together the creative class for more than just celebration, but also to accomplish some good in the world.

So, if you’re interested in music and fun, and want to give something back to those in need, come on out to downtown East Lansing on April 16 from noon to 6 PM for Jamming for Japan.

For more information, catch us on The Impact student radio station this Thursday, April 14 at 8 PM or be sure to follow @Jam4Japan on Twitter!

PWers Organize Local Music in the Middle of the Mitten

On Saturday January 29, 2011, the hard work of three Professional Writing students and one professor will come to fruition.

PW students Joel Heckaman (senior), Reanna Trombley (senior), and yours truly (junior), under the direction of Professor Jonathan Ritz, spent much of their fall 2010 semester planning, designing, and publicizing for the Middle of the Mitten local music showcase.

Held each year in January at a Lansing venue, Middle of the Mitten celebrates the anniversary of the opening of The Record Lounge, an East Lansing record shop. The event brings together bands and solo artists from the greater-Lansing area and other Michigan cities. Built on support from local businesses and national music distributors–as well as music lovers from all over Michigan–the show is the culmination of years of work and is a testament to Joel Heckaman’s passion for local music. Heckaman planned the first two years of the show with very little help; this year he brought in some PW colleagues to lend a hand.

The students drew upon the lessons learned in Professional Writing. Heckaman, director of Middle of the Mitten, managed the team and called on a few of his contacts to create a serious buzz about the event. Trombley, graphic designer for Middle of the Mitten, used what she learned in web, graphic, and document design to produce a memorable public identity for the show. Trombley created and designed a website used for band applications; she also designed a flier, business card, logo, letterhead, t-shirt, and various other graphics. As assistant director of Middle of the Mitten, I applied skills learned in public relations, writing, and marketing to produce a media release and personal interest article about Heckaman (the latter appearing on Capital Gains’ website).

All of this work was supervised and managed throughout the process by Jon Ritz, who knew that all of the skills that students learn in their PW courses could be brought to bear in producing this unique local event. Drawing upon his experience in marketing, communication, and freelance writing, Ritz was able to guide the students and assure that their work was benefiting the event in the best possible way. He allowed the students to do all the work for themselves, but made sure to advise them in a manner that balanced real world experience and academic support. This is the sort of community involvement that sets PW majors and faculty apart from other majors on campus.

This semester, two of the three students will graduate. Of course, the show must go on, so if you’re interested in taking part next year (for credit or as a volunteer), you can contact Joel Heckaman at

Middle of the Mitten will run from 6:00 PM to 2:00 AM on Saturday, January 29, 2011 at The Loft, located at 414 E. Michigan Avenue in Lansing, above Harem Urban Lounge.
To find out more, visit and Questions can be directed to, or by calling The Record Lounge at 517-337-1221.

All Photographs © Dave Trumpie

Community Builders: WRAC’s First Interns

WRAC’s redesigned website launched this past September, built around features that demand a great deal of attention and maintenance. Without someone watching over them, social media venues stagnate and a blog quickly grows stale. To avoid this common mistake and ensure that fresh and interesting content be produced on a regular basis, WRAC developed a communications strategy that outlines what types of content needs to be produced, sets production timetables to be followed, and establishes responsibility for creating the content: the Communications Management Intern.

As described in the communications strategy, the intern is to be recruited from the vast talent pool that is the Professional Writing program, and has the primary responsibility of listening: talking regularly to department administrators and staff, maintaining office hours during which anyone may drop in and talk, and paying attention to listservs and social networks where faculty and students regularly discuss their work. What the intern learns through listening becomes fodder for blog posts, social networking messages, and an official department calendar and newsletter.

As the fall 2010 semester ends, so does the tenure of WRAC’s first Communications Management Interns, Ali White and Laurel Sutherland. If you have enjoyed a story on WRAC’s new blog, a post or event on WRAC’s new Facebook page, or a tweet or conversation on WRAC’s Twitter feed, you have these two outstanding Professional Writing students to thank. They have helped grow and maintain these new communities and have established a number of precedents for all interns going forward, including an editorial workflow and a style guide.

As the end of the semester neared and their replacements needed to be recruited, Ali and Laurel put together this short video describing their work as interns:

We asked Ali and Laurel each to identify a piece of writing they prepared this semester and reflect on what they learned and why it was significant to them.

Laurel Sutherland – This semester, I learned a lot about communicating, writing, and editing. I enjoyed connecting with the WRAC department through each piece I had the opportunity to write, but there is one piece that I am especially proud of. In October, I wrote “Student Interns Involved in the Community.” This piece stands out to me because it aligns wonderfully with WRAC’s communication strategy: it showcases the skills of WRAC students, illustrates their involvement in the community, and the dynamic, professional experiences they are gaining during their time in the Professional Writing program.

While writing the piece, I had the opportunity to work with several primary sources. I learned a lot from listening to what the students had to say about their internships and synthesizing their diverse set of experiences into an informative, engaging, and effective piece of writing. I liked the piece because it showcased accomplishments of students doing really important work in the community. I was thrilled to have the opportunity to write about the way PW students are learning through real world experiences (while gaining valuable writing experience of my own!).

Ali White – I wrote many different pieces this semester, from short summaries of conference attendances to long analyses of projects in WRAC courses. It’s difficult to say which piece I’m the most proud of. The two pieces I wrote about the 4Cs conference–”Malea Powell Brings Big Changes as Program Chair” and “Creating the Schedule”–were the ones I spent the most time on, from the initial interview to the review process. I feel that the first piece in particular communicates what we do in WRAC: as students and faculty we are creating big changes and trying to cross boundaries.

The most exciting aspect of these pieces was having the chance to meet with Malea and Daisy Levy, and to see their enthusiasm for the conference. Although it keeps them extremely busy, they are genuinely excited about it. I got to see the behind-the-scenes processes of the conference, and I enjoyed taking photos of their organizational methods. The most difficult component was understanding the diverse audiences of the pieces, inside and outside of WRAC; Malea and Daisy are the primary stakeholders, but the changes made in the 4Cs will affect many of the faculty and graduates who plan on attending or presenting at the conference.

Finally, these two pieces went through our workflow and the editorial process more thoroughly than any other pieces I wrote. I feel my writing was developed and improved, along with my content and organization. It was helpful that there was a lot of time available before actually posting the material, allowing several edits and changes to be made.

Ali and Laurel both did outstanding work producing content, building community, and establishing editorial procedure during their tenure as Communications Management Interns. They leave big shoes to fill, and the next interns – Dan Nufer, Vanessa Levin-Pompetzki, and Noelle Sciarini – will benefit greatly from the precedents and examples established by Ali and Laurel.

Grad Students Talk to PW about Grad School

On November 17th, Writers’ Bloc hosted Rhetoric & Writing graduate students in a discussion about the pros and cons of attending graduate school. Anna Kramer, John Lauckner, and Beth Keller came to talk about the demands of graduate school. Although they came from similar undergraduate programs, they had different goals and reasons to apply for graduate school.

Anna Kramer in an alumni of the Professional Writing program at Michigan State, having graduated in 2009. She applied to the MA in Critical Studies in Literacy and Pedagogy (CSLP) program at MSU as a safety net, not knowing what she wanted to do after graduation. That summer, she received a full-time position at MSU Press as Production Editor and Website Coordinator. When she went to her first graduate class that fall, after working a nine-hour day, she realized she didn’t feel excited or enthusiastic about graduate study. She decided to defer the program, intent on returning for the fall 2010 semester. Overwhelmed by everything else in life, including getting engaged and planning a wedding, Anna realized she had higher priorities, and graduate school wasn’t one of them. She decided not to enroll in any classes for 2010.

Anna’s advice to those considering graduate school: “Don’t apply for grad school unless you have some kind of passion deep in your soul for being in school. [...] Really make sure that (a) you can do it, and (b) you really want to do it.” Every student must make that decision for themselves.

Watch Anna talk about her experience

On the other hand, graduate school may be the exciting next step in your career. John Lauckner was also in the Professional Writing program as an undergraduate and decided he wanted to continue his education at MSU. He is currently in his second year of the MA program in Digital Rhetoric and Professional Writing at MSU. After graduating, he plans on either teaching writing at a community college or finding a job in the video game industry, his biggest interest. Graduate school became a necessity, particularly if he decides to go into teaching in higher education.

Beth Keller decided to go get her master’s degree because she wanted to study how people interact with computers and new media. Beth graduated from Indiana University–Purdue University at Fort Wayne (IPFW), where she majored in English Writing. As an undergraduate, there wasn’t as much time to research specific interests, as university requirements took up many of her credit hours. Graduate school provided the opportunity to really delve into one specific topic. She hopes to become a professor in higher education, as well as a community activist to help bridge the gap between how people view education and what people do with it in practical situations.

Listen to John and Beth talk about grad school at MSU

If you’re considering applying to graduate school, talk to your advisor or to other faculty and students in the graduate program.

Videos by Dan Nufer

Zazzle Contest: PW Creativity Put to the Test

Writers’ Bloc recently created a VivaPW Zazzle store where PW merchandise including  t-shirts, sweatshirts, bags, hats, mugs, and bumper stickers will be available for purchase. They are holding a design contest, inviting anyone who would like to participate, to submit designs for the merchandise. The store will be a great way to publicize the PW program and to show PW pride. Writers’ Bloc is calling for design submissions by December 20th, 2010. 

Submissions should be posted in JPEG format (at least 300 dpi) to the WRAC Facebook page or emailed to After December 20th, 2010, a  Surveymonkey survey will be posted so that all of PW can vote for their favorite designs. The top designs in each category will be added to the store. Winners will receive a free copy of the products they’ve designed and the satisfaction of having the design live in the VivaPW Zazzle store for years to come!

Writers’ Bloc Big Fall 2010 Kickoff

“Who knew decorating toy army men and playing Catch Phrase could be so much fun? Viva PW!” said Natalie Kozlowski, Public Relations Coordinator for Writers’ Bloc.

On a sunny Sunday afternoon, Writers’ Bloc hosted a kickoff party for Professional Writing in 317 Bessey and the Writing Center. The food and festivities were abundant as PWers walked through the door. The WRAC interns were there to document and join in the fun.

There were many arts & crafts projects in which to take part. Students colored, decorated an army man parachute, and created other works of art to hang in 317. Some of this work was displayed at the College of Arts and Letters Resource Fair on Tuesday, October 5th, along with several of the 317 squishables.

Halfway through, the party moved from 317 to the Writing Center where there was an array word-related games: Scattergories, Catch Phrase, and Bananagrams. People mingled and tried many of the games. Laughter could be heard from the other end of Bessey’s third floor.

Dan Nufer, president of Writer’s Bloc, was enthusiastic: “PW is like when a tornado of genius meets a hurricane of all that is fun and awesome. The PW party is a place for that disastrously successful genius to get some real R&R.”