A Semester in Review: Chelsea

Between my role as a CUPID associate and my coursework in Understanding Rhetoric this semester, I became increasingly aware of the prevalence of rhetorical strategies or at least the need for them in all aspects of life. (That sounds like an exaggeration, but it’s true.) I’ve always been perceptive of it to an extent, but my work this semester really reconfirmed the reality of its pervasiveness.

Working as a CUPID associate also reemphasized the importance of visual rhetoric. One of our first assignments was to update the display board in the hallway right outside of the studio. I had never really noticed the board before, but after our updates I did. I think they made a huge difference. I may have just thought so because I felt especially proud of it, but I truly believe creating the background and neatly posting the materials in it made a big impact. It further established CUPID’s ethos. It reinforced the branding through the repeated use of the power symbol and made us look like we care about what we do, which, I believe, makes other people care about what we do too.

Of all of our assignments, the two I enjoyed most were writing about Robin Whitsell and the PWR senior showcase. To be honest, I probably wouldn’t have attended either event if I didn’t have to, but being assigned to write blog posts about them encouraged me to go, and I’m so glad I did.

Robin Whitsell’s speech spawned a lot of my increased thinking about rhetoric and its universal importance. It even made me start thinking about and ethical issues involved in practicing it that I hadn’t really thought about before. The senior showcase gave me an idea of what to expect for next year, which I appreciate now and am sure I will appreciate even more next spring, and also gave me the opportunity to see the impressive work I’ve been indirectly hearing about all semester.

Though most of my experiences were just as positive, I faced some minor challenges throughout the semester.

One of the challenges I faced, specifically at the beginning of the semester, was finding a voice when writing blog posts. Maybe it was because the blog was new and its voice hadn’t been established yet, or maybe it was just my own inability to determine what the voice should be.

My first post read like an excerpt from a newspaper, which I’m assuming can be attributed to the fact that the most recent writing I had done was for The Pendulum as an international correspondent in the fall. When that was brought to my attention, I really struggled to insert myself into it more than I had initially. Though it improved after a few revisions, it still seemed to fall short of reflecting the intended tone. As the semester went on though, the less I thought about the blog’s voice, the more successful I was.

The purpose of the blog is to showcase projects, events and ideas related to CUPID and PWR while reflecting the interests and thoughts of students and faculty within the field. As a student within the field, the reflection of my interests and thoughts about various projects, events, and ideas established the tone I had been looking for from the start. Making that realization helped me shape what I wrote about the rest of the semester. It encouraged me to write about what I was thinking and what I would want to read (related to CUPID and PWR, of course), and I believe really strengthened my writing overall.

It was also difficult in the beginning of the semester to lay out our responsibilities as associates and create a timeline for posting blog entries. This was ultimately because we were at the mercy of the website creator who was had apparently not prioritized the CUPID website on his list of responsibilities. Though that was frustrating and postponed the work we intended to do on the blog right away, it exposed us to a real life problem often encountered in the professional world and forced us to be patient and flexible, both of which are attributes that will be useful in the future.

Once the website was up and running, we ended up focusing on the blog a little too much and consequently neglected other parts of the website. In our defense, it did seem to be most important at the time, especially in trying to establish the blogs presence and the tone as I mentioned. And now that that has been identified as a flaw in our process, the associates next semester can prevent that from happening again.

Overall, the experience really supplemented my semester. I was never overwhelmed by the tasks at hand, but the consistent work really moved the semester along. It’s always nice to see a practical application of what I’ve learned in class. I know that’s what a lot of the PWR courses stress in the various client projects that we are assigned, but a class project just does not have the same effect.

I must admit that I am one of those students who are driven almost solely by grades as a motivating factor though I recognize it is not a good way to approach my coursework. While I did receive a grade for my work as an associate, the situation just seemed fundamentally different.  I looked at every assignment with a desire to do it as best as I could because I wanted to be proud of everything I produced and do a good job for RPR and Mia. I truly never thought about the grade, and that’s a big deal for me.

In mentioning RPR and Mia, I ‘d like to note that I believe the team you work with really makes a difference in a working environment. That’s not to say that the only way you can be motivated to produce good work is by respecting the people you work with. If that were the case, there would be a lot less high-quality materials produced in this world. I will say though that it certainly helps.

Working as a CUPID associate felt like an internship but with more responsibilities and opportunities to actively contribute. I was able to apply my understanding of rhetoric, testing out what works and what doesn’t work, while getting helpful feedback and learn from it. It was a great experience, and I encourage anyone who has the opportunity to work as a CUPID associate to do so.

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