Internships are an essential part of a student’s college path to the career they want. Not only do you receive real-world experience by interning at a business or company you can see yourself working for, but you also receive the chance to network and meet people in your desired field or career with every internship you take on.
Once you have an internship, though, it’s your job to make the most out of it and receive the kind of experience you want to take away from it. Tina Ray, an MSU Rhetoric & Writing alum who now works with MessageMakers in East Lansing, recently wrote a blog post on MessageMakers’ website about how interns can be “awesome” by “being proactive.” In this post, she explains that she’s worked with a lot of interns over the past seven years at MessageMakers, and one thing that stands out to her the most is “how much their success depends on proactivity.”
What I found the most useful were her tips to effectively be proactive in your internship. Such as speaking up about projects you wish to be part of, especially if they are something that interests you. She also suggests to “take responsibility for your workflow” and keep busy; ask if there is anything else you can do if you don’t have enough to do. Also, ask for feedback on your work so you know what you’re doing right and things you could improve upon, and always take opportunities that are offered to you.
“They are an opportunity for you to get used to business settings that may become a part of your career life, to professionalize yourself, and to make connections with others that may be beneficial later.”
Even if the internship doesn’t turn into a full-fledged job, the experience is what you will take with you as you continue your career path to the job that’s best for you.
It’s a bold claim. And it got me thinking about what we try to do in the Rhetoric & Writing graduate program that may fit this pattern. Do we, through the ways we teach writing at the graduate level, aim to improve graduate education more generally? I believe we do, and quite consciously, here at MSU. We pay attention to process. We work to demystify genres and conventions associated with writing in post-graduate workplaces. We build in opportunities for peer-learning. And we have designed a graduate curriculum that aims to ground acts of composing in practices of inquiry, invention, and research appropriate to the scholarly conversations our students seek to join. Rhetoric and Writing is quite literally a writing program. (more…)
Rhetoric & Writing graduate students Andrea Riley Mukavetz, Daisy Levy, Doug Schraufnagle, Jennifer Fisch-Feurgson, Marilee Brooks-Gillies, and with faculty adviser, Dr. Malea Powell, have used the research cluster structure to form a collective lab-space looking to reach two main objectives: to start and sustain a humanities theory lab and, and to elucidate cultural rhetorics as an interdisciplinary field.
Cultural Rhetorics Theory Lab Wordle
The lab’s mission is focused on promoting, informing, and theorizing about what cultural rhetorics is. This year’s multitude of activities included planning two forums for individuals interested in gaining hands-on experience with cultural theory and rhetorics, collectively authoring an article entitled “What is Cultural Rhetorics?,” designing sustainability documents for the lab, and networking here at MSU and beyond.
Recently, various members of the lab participated in a variety workshops at the CCCC’s conference, and will also be attending the upcoming Rhetoric Society of America conference in May.
Over the summer, the lab plans to build its web-presences and its major projects for the next year are to begin working on a digital Cultural Rhetorics journal and a Cultural Rhetorics textbook as well.
The Queer Rhetorics cluster is looking to use the methodology of play to explore and examine queer identity, bodies, and practices in various communities. Overall, its members (Casey Miles, Katie Livingston, and Simone West), along with their faculty adviser, Dr. Trixie Smith, are looking to contribute to the queer rhetoric field as a whole.
Aside from group research and authorship, each member is also taking this opportunity to progress forward research they’ve already started independently. Miles’ work this semester focused on butch pedagogy; Livingston’s research is centered around exploring consent as a community-based methodology; West is interested in television censorship and cultural practices through a queer lens; Smith’s work is concerned with coming-out stories.
This past year, cluster members presented at CCCC on this work; likewise, members have proposed sessions and panels for next year’s CCCC as well as the PCAS/ACAS conference.
For more information about this specific cluster, contact Trixie Smith at firstname.lastname@example.org
Every year, the R&W Graduate program invites potential PHD students to visit MSU, and holds a weekend event. This event gives the selection of students admitted to the Rhetoric & Writing graduate program an opportunity to visit MSU and build new relationships with faculty and students. This year’s recruits met with with current students and faculty, visited the local area, and partook in a social mixer in MSU’s Agricultural Hall’s Atrium. The recruitment weekend started on February 23rd and lasted until the 25th.
Conversations in Ag Hall's Atrium among R&W faculty, students, and recruits
There was a pleasant mixture of laughter and serious conversation echoing in the atrium as the recruits mingled with faculty and “recruitment buddies.” Beth Keller (a recruitment buddy) said, “This year’s group of students are especially diverse in their research interests. I really look forward to working with them in the future.” From San Francisco State University to University of Toledo, some recruits traveled far to visit the campus and talk to their potential peers and professors. Along with their luggage, these candidates also bring their research interests; this year, they ranged from education of athletes to the rhetorics of protest.
Recruitment weekends have an important role in the decision process, and this mixer was another chance to demonstrate the R&W’s engaged community and welcoming atmosphere. Those are factors that may tip a recruit’s decision toward MSU. Recruits are expected to make their decisions by mid-semester. We hope to welcome many of them to the R&W graduate program.
Dr. Melanie Yergeau. Photo courtesy of Cara Gonzalez.
There are new voices being heard in the rhetoric and writing community; one in particular seeks to challenge the traditional view of writers with disabilities. Melanie Yergeau, a faculty member at the University of Michigan’s Department of English, gave a presentation called I Stim, Therefore I Am: Authoring Autism, Authoring Audience to to a group of WRAC faculty and graduate students. Stimming is repetitive body movement, a characteristic shared by many (though not all) autistic persons.
“Dr. Yergeau’s visit is part of a speaker series Malea Powell started when she was the R&W Director and that I have tried to continue. We call it our ‘New Voices in Writing & Rhetoric’ series and we aim to bring in promising early-career scholars doing work that is of interest to our graduate students and faculty,” said professor Bill Hart-Davidson. Dr. Yergeau’s work is indeed interesting, examining the traditional concepts of rhetorical theory and their relationship with disability. Yergeau says that there is a view that autistic or otherwise disabled persons, “fail to–and cannot–connect with able-bodied audiences.”
Photo courtesy of Cara Gonzalez
Her presentation included videos of autistic persons discussing many of the issues facing autistic composition. Autistic herself, Dr. Yergeau created a compelling and potent argument for more “neurodiversity” in writing and rhetoric, which is being echoed by those in the autistic community who wish to speak for themselves. Donnie Sackey, a R&W PhD candidate, said, “I hope many people will ask, ‘Why is it that so many people, who either research autism or represent the autistic, aren’t autistic?’”
The Rhetoric & Writing program and the Department of Writing, Rhetoric & American Cultures will once again offer three summer courses in the popular “sprint” hybrid format. These courses are designed to work well for current MSU students from a variety of disciplines. But they are also available for both students and non-students to take. Credit and non-credit options are offered.
AL 860 Visual Rhetoric with Danielle Devoss
AL 881 Teaching with Technology with Bill Hart-Davidson
AL 891 Tracing Digital Culture with Liza Potts
More about each course is below!
How does the Sprint Format work?
Modeled after NEH Summer Seminars, the courses meet online for 3-4 weeks, then come together for a week in residence consisting of four and a half days on the MSU campus. Participants then work on projects and review one another’s work for another 3-4 weeks before a final hybrid symposium where work is presented and discussed.
Affordable accommodations are made available on campus for those coming to East Lansing from out of town. Room rates start at $35/day with meal options for $14/day. Families can stay too!
Courses can be taken for graduate credit by MSU students. They are also available for MSU lifelong education credit for students who may wish to transfer credit to another institution. Non-credit options are available as well, which allow faculty and students who do not wish to receive course credit to enroll. Fees for the courses vary according to the enrollment options.
For more info about any of these options contact Administrative Assistant for the Graduate Program Melissa Arthurton at 517.355.2400.
How can I enroll?
Current MSU students can contact Melissa Arthurton in the Dept. of Writing, Rhetoric & American cultures at email@example.com or by phone at 517.355.2400.
Non-credit enrollment is a third option! Contact Bill Hart-Davidson to reserve a spot! (firstname.lastname@example.org).
More About Our Courses
AL 860 Visual Rhetoric
Online Meetings May 29-June 15
On Campus June 18-22 (Friday is a half day)
Symposium: Friday July 20
Today’s technologies challenge writers and teachers of writing to address how, when, and where images and words collide. In AL 860, we will explore how visuals work–alone and with text. We will analyze what it means to see, look at, and read visual elements, and we will examine the effects visual elements have on different readers/viewers/users. Visual compositions range from a book to the interface of a software application to an advertisement from a print magazine to the splash page of a web site. Visual elements we will work with include, but are not limited to, typography (font faces and sizes), graphics (clipart, photographs, diagrams), color, margins, paper and screen textures, and alignment. We will approach visual rhetoric from a variety of perspectives (e.g., from the perspectives of the fields of graphic art and technical communication; e.g., as writers, teachers, and designers). We will analyze different print and digital compositions and create and analyze our own compositions using different tools (e.g., software applications like Microsoft Word, Adobe Photoshop; using online image databases and materials we gather during the semester). Activities will allow us space to develop familiarity with different technologies for producing visuals.
AL 881 Teaching with Technology
Instructor: Bill Hart-Davidson (email@example.com)
Online Meetings May 21 – June 8
On Campus June 11-15 (Friday is half day)
Symposium: July 20
In AL 881 we will examine theoretical and practical frameworks for designing and/or evolving curriculum and pedagogy for digital delivery. Participants spend time designing or redesigning a course, which will include evaluating interaction needs for supporting learning goals, assessing affordances of specific technologies and designing course materials. You’ll get feedback from a scholar who both teaches with technology and who researches, theorizes and builds new technologies (that’s me, @billhd…and there will be some guests too!). Together we’ll work to create a space for reflection about the intellectual, ethical, and political consequences of teaching in digital spaces.
AL 891 Tracing Digital Culture
Instructor: Liza Potts (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Online Meetings May 14-June 1
On Campus June June 4-8 (Friday is a half day)
Symposium: July 6
In AL 891, we will develop your understanding of digital culture practices by tracing major and minor events as they move across different genres online. From Twitter, YouTube, Wikipedia, Facebook, Tumblr, etc. as well as mainstream media sites such as the BBC News and CNN, we will examine how people communicate online and exchange information. We will discuss relevant theories, methods, and practices such as actor network theory, activity theory, and articulation theory. By examining these events, we will offer you opportunities for learning to trace events through people and technologies as they travel across the Internet. As we trace the movements of data as it becomes information and transforms into knowledge, we will gain a greater understanding of how participants use these systems to communicate and how we as communicators and designers can improve these systems.
This year, as a part of her Instructional Technology Graduate Assistantship, first year R&W doctoral student, Beth Keller, has joined with the WRAC communications management interns in coordinating the work of the WRAC website.
Photo courtesy of Beth Keller
She says her favorite part of the position is getting to work with and closely mentor the PW interns: “speaking in terms of mentorship, getting to know someone through their writing, and seeing their ideas, writing, and process grow and change is very rewarding.”
As part of the position, Keller is responsible for maintaining the department’s website, creating a sustainability handbook, and supervising the interns; however, she is also taking this opportunity to research mentorship among women.
“[This position] gives me an experience of what it’s like observing people using writing to accomplish granular tasks, how those tasks help accomplish larger goals, and also how to manage and influence that process,” she says.
Because of this position, Keller proposed and was accepted to two conferences (Computers and Writing, and ATTW) for 2012. Keller is excited to see what comes from the position, and plans to continue researching mentorship, sustainability processes, and writing as work throughout her stay at MSU and beyond.