Professional Writing Major Blazing His Own Career Trail

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Senior Professional Writing major Kalib Watson is bringing his liberal arts degree to the 21st century.

After switching his major to Professional Writing in the hopes of becoming an editor someday, Watson realized he didn’t enjoy editing. At the same time he discovered this, he was introduced to a whole new area of professional writing. 

During his junior year, Watson took WRA 210, Introduction to Web Authoring, a required course for Professional Writing majors. The class familiarizes students with basic languages like HMTL and CSS.

“It was a whole new world that I had not explored yet,” Watson said.

This interest in web development led Watson to take the Advanced Web Authoring course, WRA 410, taught by Bill Hart-Davidson, Associate Dean of Research and Graduate Studies, who put the course in a context that felt natural to Watson.

“In PW, it’s hard to find people who are interested in coding, and talking to computer science majors and the professors over there feels very out of my realm,” Watson said.

He has the ability to communicate well, he is a creative thinker, and he has the technical skills. He is the kind of person that you can put with engineers to talk about the guts of the code, and you can pull him out of that meeting and put him in a meeting with the customer. You can be 100% sure that he will talk about the mission and vision.

Bill Hart-Davidson

Hart-Davidson became Watson’s mentor and the two organized an independent study course on JavaScript that Watson currently is taking during his last semester at MSU. The content of the course is structured around high-level programming concepts and frameworks.

“Kalib is what I call a unicorn,” Hart-Davidson said. “He has the ability to communicate well, he is a creative thinker, and he has the technical skills. He is the kind of person that you can put with engineers to talk about the guts of the code, and you can pull him out of that meeting and put him in a meeting with the customer. You can be 100% sure that he will talk about the mission and vision.”

Watson’s Professional Writing degree and experience with coding and programming give him a unique edge. He is able to understand his audience and get his information across without confusing them. 

“While I might not understand everything there is to know about programming,” Watson said. “I do understand a lot about how to gather that information and synthesize it into something that I can use and also synthesize information in a way that other people can use as well.”

I do understand a lot about how to gather that information and synthesize it into something that I can use and also synthesize information in a way that other people can use as well.

Kalib Watson

Since last summer, Watson has worked as a web development intern at Jackson National Life Insurance where he helps program websites and web apps and works with developers. Working with a wide range of people, he also presents to different groups within the company, such as high-level executives, the legal team, and designers.

Watson obtained the internship by attending the PW/XA Day of Professionalization last spring. There, he was able to connect with a recruiter who he now works with.

After graduation, Watson plans to move to Detroit to participate in a year-long fellowship focused on web development and programming. 

The Hacker Fellows experience is separated into two phases: training and real-life work experience with a startup. The training portion begins on June 11 and ends July 13. On July 16, fellows begin their work at a Michigan-based startup company and continue attending social and educational events for the fellowship throughout the end of the year.