Professional Writing Minor Prepares Students for Writing in the Contemporary Workplace

January 7, 2015
Photo of a  student working at the Godman Guild

Originally published December 1, 2014

From BalletMet to the Ohio Commission on Minority Health, from the Mid-Ohio Foodbank to McGraw-Hill Education, professional writing minor students demonstrate that good writing matters in all sectors of the work world.

Created by Drs. Beverly Moss and Kitty Locker ten years ago, the professional writing minor provides a path for students across the curriculum whatever their majors—from anthropology to zoology, from English to engineering—to enhance their skills and prepare for the various kinds of writing needed in contemporary workplaces.

Two components are equally critical to the program’s success: well-prepared, eager students with professionalized writing skills and committed workplace professionals—editors, writers, communications directors—who mentor these students. In the past two years, the program has placed more than 130 students pursuing 23 different majors at more than 45 workplaces.

To earn the minor, students complete a second-level writing course, two electives from a portfolio of writing-instructional classes from across the curriculum, and the core requirement, Cultures of Professional Writing. Students go through a rigorous portfolio review and interview with the program coordinator; then they actively participate in selecting internships to match their skills and career goals by utilizing the program’s CarmenWiki. This online resource showcases the workplaces and includes reviews by students who have worked at the various sites.

Trish Houston, the program’s coordinator, negotiates with each of the workplace partners to insure the quality of the writing experience the program’s students will gain. Houston notes that students are often surprised that they are doing meaningful work from day one at their internships. She adds: “When the right student is matched with the best partner, it’s magic!”

Attention to both preparing students and carefully selecting workplaces has paid off. The Minor in Professional Writing has grown substantially in the past five years. The number of students declaring their intentions to earn the minor has increased by more than 300%. Enrollment in the program’s core requisite course has doubled, and the number of students completing the capstone internship has increased by 50%.

Students and workplace partners alike share their enthusiasm about the program’s effectiveness. Brandi Grayson, an English major and professional writing minor alumna, interned at the Godman Guild, a century-old settlement house located east of Weinland Park. She is now the Guild’s Development Event Coordinator and serves as the writing minor’s internship contact there. She credits the program for her success: “The minor’s holistic approach to education and learning writing has given me tools to succeed in the professional world.”

Luke Russell, Senior Content Manager, Wexner Medical Center Marketing and Strategic Communications, said: “I can speak for our whole department when I say that we enjoy the relationship we have with [the minor]. The high quality of the program is reflected in the [students] who come from it.”

Robbie Southers, a dual major in Spanish and political science who interned at the Columbus International Program, worked with delegations of professionals from around the world, and created YouTube and website content, said: “This was the most awesome experience of my life.”

Magic, indeed.

To learn more and to find upcoming courses in professional writing, please visit the Professional Writing Program website. Interested in adding the minor to your degree plan? Contact the Department of English at (614) 292-6065 to set up an appointment with an English advisor.