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.” (more…)
Although it’s not a new phenomenon in the least, it has recently come to light among Women’s and Gender studies scholars and feminists. It’s the College Hookup Culture. Defined by Urban Dictionary as, “The era that began in the early 1990s and has since prevailed on college campuses and elsewhere when hooking up has replaced traditional dating as the preferred method of heterosexual liaison,” hookup culture is becoming more and more predominant among college students.
Professional Writing teacher, Stephanie Amada, recently released an e-book on the subject, titled, How to Deal With Hookup Culture.
“The book was actually inspired by some discussions in my WRA 140 class [Women in America].”
Hooking up, Amada explained, can range from anything such as making out to engaging in full out sex.
“So, when you’re talking to your friends and you say you ‘hooked up’ with someone, many students are unclear about what that might mean unless you are more specific.”
From the e-book emerged an idea for a research project. Aimed more towards women students, Amada wanted to know what do women (and men) really think of this hookup culture? Do they enjoy the casual, “friends-with-benefits,” relationship, or would they rather find someone to date seriously? Along with these questions, Amada wanted to incorporate social media into the project as a way to help students find a place they can talk about the hookup culture.
“The goal of the project is to create an online, anonymous forum that allows students to log on and ask questions or give advice from anything ranging from relationships to dating or sex to women’s health. It should be a comfortable setting where mainly college women can talk to other women students in similar situations as them.” (more…)
Ok, so you graduated from college, your diploma *finally* came in the mail, and with any luck you’ve settled into a job or freelance work or an internship, or some delightful combination of the former. You’re paying off student loans, you’re settling into your work routine, you’ve moved into an apartment (or back into your childhood bedroom), and it’s finally sinking in that you’re no longer a student.
Now, that is not necessarily true. Besides the more obvious choices like graduate school or other types of higher education, you are in fact, still a student. The only difference is that you can pick what you want to learn (and there’s usually no one waiting to give you a rolled up piece of paper at the end).
There are numerous ways to continue learning even after you leave your dorm room or college campus. You can, for instance:
Read. Read everything under the sun. Books, magazines, blogs, newspapers, web comics, Twitter feeds, etc. My favorite thing lately has been re-trying out all of the classic novels and bits of literature that were skimmed at break-neck speed during my undergrad English classes. Now I can kick back and enjoy some Steinbeck or Bradbury (or Julia Child and Ingrid Bergman biographies) at my leisure, and not have to worry about looking for symbols or finding applicable quotes for a final paper. Or, if you miss those final papers, you can blog about what you liked/disliked/discovered along the way.
Go back to “school.” One of the my favorite discoveries during post-college life have been online tutorials and actual “classes” you can take. Some examples include Codecademy, Coursera and Hack Design. Best part? Almost all of them are free, and you can learn at whatever pace is comfortable, or if you work full-time, convenient for you.
Listen. If your eyes are already tired from staring at computer screens all day or you have a lengthy commute, try a podcast, or NPR, or one of those books on tape/CD if you’re feeling a bit old school. Or, find people that you think are interesting, or who are doing interesting things in your field, and hear what they have to say, whether it’s through a speaking engagement, a phone call or initiating a conversation via your favorite flavor of social media.
But hey, maybe some of these things are a no-brainer, and that’s fine. Maybe some of you have other methods of learning that you prefer, and that’s fine too. Heck, maybe you actually are still in school but you like to add things to the coursework you’ve already completed (that’s more than fine – in fact, go you!). All that matters is that you keep on learning new things. And if you like what you find, share it with others.
Noelle Sciarini is an alumni of MSU’s Professional Writing program. Now a resident of Ann Arbor, she currently works as an email marketing copywriter for a series of charitable “click-to-give” websites. Sometimes she’s on Twitter, where you can tweet her at @NoelleSci.
Professional Writing Seniors: if you’re looking for a place to host your profile domain, pay attention. Weebly allows you to create free, professional-looking websites. With drag and drop features, multimedia uploading options, and hundreds of professional themes, creating a website has never been so easy.
It’s also easy to use if you’re creating a website for a business or organization and don’t want to use Word Press; you can edit the HTML to fit your needs and style as well as incorporate the Weebly themes and features along with it. You can even access Weebly on your iPhone or Smart Phone. What I like best about using Weebly is you don’t have to be an expert at HTML to have a great looking website. In 2007, it was named one of TIME Magazine’s 50 Best Websites of the year.
“Since then, we’ve stayed true to our original goal – providing you with the easiest and most intuitive way to build your web presence.”
It’s a great tool for people just starting out, domain hosting is FREE, and it’s easy and professional to use. What’s not to love?
Students in Professional Writing are notorious for being innovative and creative thinkers. Although this might sound a bit biased coming from a Professional Writing student like myself, it’s true. Professional Writer’s are designers, writers, builders, and thinkers. We work for publishing companies, non-profits, local companies, and nationally known companies. We help design websites for startup companies and create a social media strategy for organizations around East Lansing. Some of us even create ideas for Smart Phone apps and more adept Learning Management websites.
Last fall, two teams were hard at work in Bill Hart-Davidson’s Interactive Design (WRA 482) class coming up with an idea to help students navigate MSU and learn more efficiently. The two teams, Team Routebook and Team Syllabot, came up with projects last semester and have continued progress on them throughout this semester.
Team Routebook began development on a Smartphone application appropriately named, “Routebook.”
“[Routebook] allows a user to see all of his or her current, fastest available transportation options,” Jessie Whitmill said, one creator on the three person team.
Although the project isn’t a finished application available to the public quite yet, the team determined the functionality of the app in class. Team Routebook, which also consists of Stephanie Sundheimer and Amanda Michels, made mockups based on user research and testing. They figured out how the data would be displayed to the user and came up with other options for the app so it would be more than just a bus GPS tracker.
“I first had an idea for an application that would tell me where the bus was because I live in Lansing and if I missed [the bus] by even one or two minutes, I was often late to class,” Whitmill explained when asked how she came up with the idea for the application. “After [my team] started to flesh out more ideas, we realized the live bus GPS tracker could be just one feature of a much larger app.” (more…)
Teresa Carpenter, via Biographile
In a recent post on Biographile, a site devoted to “Real People. Real Stories. Great Reading.,” they discussed whether writer’s block actually exists. New York Times bestselling author Teresa Carpenter strongly believes it does not.
“If you can’t sit still in your chair, you’re bored, not blocked,” she says. “If you are running a temperature of 103, you’re sick, not blocked.”
The idea here, then, is that “writer’s block” is nothing more than a term we use when we are having difficulty focusing on our work for a variety of reasons. What do you think? Does writer’s block actually exist?
Everyone (who writes) has heard the phrase, “Write what you know.” Sure, I can do that. I’ve always written what I’ve known. Even at MSU, when I took classes like Music & Culture, I understood it and knew how to write about it. Even when I had to write what I was maybe a little unfamiliar with, I had the time to figure it out, and I was never learning something completely new. Still, it’s always harder when you aren’t sure about the topic of which you’re writing.
So what do you do when you’re writing what you don’t know?
My first job out of college is a great one. I love my co-workers, I’m never bored and always busy, and I have the best schedule. But here’s the thing—I work in a megachurch. Not dissing churches or megachurches, just pointing out the fact that I didn’t grow up in a Christian household. I don’t know much about the Bible. I don’t know it at all, to be honest. And now I’m regularly in creative meetings, helping write scripts, brainstorming for new sermon series, editing the synopses for these sermons, and I don’t know a thing about the Bible and I’m only starting to learn about Christianity, which is a fairly expansive thing to learn about. (more…)
Next weekend, months of hard work by a group of Professional Writing (PW) alumni and students will finally be seen in action. The Middle of the Mitten (MOTM) festival has arrived once again, hosting its fifth annual celebration of local music from January 24th-26th in East Lansing and Lansing.
Created by PW alumnus Joel Heckaman when he was a sophomore, Middle of the Mitten’s first festival took place in January 2009. What was originally a simple rock show to celebrate the first anniversary of The Record Lounge, an East Lansing record shop, has expanded each year, now including three nights at three different venues. The organization is currently working on its 501(c)3 and Registered Student Organization statuses while still hosting a music festival every January, and a Rock for Relief local music marathon in April for charities and disaster relief. (more…)