Category Archives: Outside the Classroom

A Student’s Guide to PWR’s Experiential Learning Components

The PWR major has several experiential learning elements, including one PWR internship and one PWR research experience. A PWR major must have two credit hours of both internship and research experiences to graduate. Additionally, PWR majors must complete a senior portfolio as well as a senior Capstone Project, which are meant to represent the cumulative knowledge gained throughout their experience in the PWR program. The PWR program’s experiential learning and portfolio/Capstone Project requirements are designed to prepare students for a career in Professional Writing. Internship and research experience allow students to see how the skills acquired in PWR can be transferred into a professional environment. The senior portfolio and Capstone Project are helpful as they provide students with a conglomeration of their work and synthesis of their professional writing skills which can be added to future resumes and job applications. Students pursuing a PWR degree as well as undecided students interested in a writing-based program can benefit greatly from these experiences, as they provide the opportunity for hands-on practice in a PWR-based field. While these PWR major requirements are incredibly valuable to future professional pursuits, they may seem daunting to sophomores and juniors pursuing a degree in PWR. Luckily, Elon’s PWR program has a multitude of resources meant to help students fulfill these program obligations. 



PWR internships are meant to be an exciting opportunity to see how the skills learned in PWR courses can be translated into a fulfilling career. Despite the many possibilities offered by internships, some students worry about the requirement as they do not know where to start their internship search. One way for you to get on top of their internship requirements is by reaching out to PWR faculty and advisors, who are well equipped to help you find a suitable internship. There are many internships available on campus that count towards the PWR internship requirement. In the past, students have interned as social media managers for various student organizations and publishers for campus institutions such as the Center for Engaged Learning (CEL). PWR major Liz Crouse undertook the publishing internship for the CEL last year, and her experience is documented on Elon’s CUPID Blog site for those interested to see what the job entails. If you would rather gain their internship experience in a workplace environment, the Elon Job Network offers the opportunity to search for PWR-related internships on various work sites including law firms, tech firms, advertising agencies, publishing companies, TV stations, and more. PWR faculty and advisors are more than willing to help find an off-campus internship that aligns with your future career interests, so don’t be afraid to reach out for help if you are feeling overwhelmed. For more information on the PWR internship requirement, visit the PWR program internship page. 



The research component of the PWR major offers students the opportunity to bolster future portfolios while gaining hands-on experience with various professional writing genres and research methods. Many professors within the PWR program double as mentors for ongoing research opportunities that are available to PWR students. An example of one of these projects is the Highway 64/NC Climate Project, which is spearheaded by Dr. Strickland. This project allows student researchers to travel the length of NC, connect with students from other universities as well as local politicians, farmers, journalists, and environmentalists to document how NC is adapting to climate change. The Center for Writing Excellence also offers several research opportunities for PWR students, including alumni writing projects, faculty and staff writing group projects, and non-academic writing projects. To learn more about these experiences, reach out to Dr. Rosinski. There are several other research project opportunities outlined on the PWR undergraduate research page, so be sure to check them out if you are worried about your research requirement. You can also talk to PWR professors and advisors if you aren’t sure which research opportunity aligns best with your interests and skills. For additional information on research opportunities, be sure to check out the CUPID Blog for student perspectives on various undergraduate research projects. 


Senior Portfolio

The PWR’s senior portfolio is designed to showcase a student’s development over time as well as their current level of achievement. Portfolios are a collection of drafts and final projects which are reflective of your academic achievements as well as your future career aspirations. PWR portfolio drafts are due to Dr. Li on the first Monday of October of your senior year, and the final revised copy is due on November 30th of the same year. Your senior portfolio will then be evaluated by an external reviewer who is not associated with the PWR program. Many PWR alumni have noted that their senior portfolios helped them stand out from other candidates throughout their job search after graduation. In your portfolio, you should showcase the work that you are most proud of. So long as a document is representative of the skills you learned in the PWR program while also proving your capabilities for a specified career, it can be included within your portfolio. This can include projects done in PWR courses, articles written for student organizations, or reports and texts from your internship and research requirements. A good way to get on top of your senior portfolio requirement is by saving PWR-related texts and projects early on. You can store these documents in a folder on your Google Drive or Microsoft Office so they are there when you begin constructing your digital portfolio. You can also begin working with your faculty mentor as early as your Sophomore year to begin preparing your portfolio. To get an idea of what is expected of your senior portfolio requirement, visit the PWR Portfolio page, which has examples of previous student portfolios that you can use as inspiration.  If you have a working portfolio by the Spring semester of your Junior year, you are eligible to submit your work for a chance to win the Junior ePortfolio Award. This honor (along with $500) is awarded to an outstanding portfolio-in-progress by a current junior majoring in PWR or English, or minoring in PWS. Submissions are due by the third Monday of April, which will be April 22nd of 2022. 

Lauren Franceshini’s 2017 Senior Portfolio Page


PWR Senior Capstone Project

A final requirement of the PWR program is the Senior Capstone Project. This research-based project is part of the Senior Seminar that PWR students are required to take in the Spring semester of their senior year. The Senior Capstone Project is meant to showcase the knowledge and skills of rhetorical, professional, and design strategies that a student learns throughout their time in the PWR program. The Capstone is an integrated portion of the senior assessment process, and students present their projects at an open-house-style Spring Undergraduate Research Forum (SURF) at the end of the semester to faculty and other audiences. More information about the requirements of the Senior Capstone Project as well as examples of previous students’ Portfolio Projects can be found on the PWR Senior Capstone Project page of Elon’s PWR department website. Undergraduate students are also encouraged to go to Senior Capstone Project showcases at SURF each spring to get an idea of what will be expected of them. 

Kelly Dodge’s 2016 Senior Capstone Project


It is beneficial for PWR students to be proactive about the four major PWR requirements. Be sure to reach out to PWR professors and upperclassmen early on, and begin preparing documents for your senior portfolio as soon as possible. This will help alleviate your senior year workload while ensuring that only your finest achievements are included in your portfolio. Talk to PWR faculty and advisors about research and internship opportunities, they will be able to help you figure out what experiences will be best suited to your needs and aspirations. The PWR major requirements are not meant to be daunting. They are designed to help you become successful in a career you are passionate about by preparing you for the post-graduation job search and making you familiar with how PWR is used in the real world. If you feel stressed about any of these components of the PWR program, reach out to your faculty advisor and begin planning how you will fulfill the requirements.

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Are they Real or Fake? Learning about the importance of Marketing in Brand Protection through a summer internship: Courtney Cardillo

Courtney Cardillo, ’22 (ENG major PWR minor)

Can you tell the difference between a counterfeit product versus a real one? Well, this summer while interning with SnapDragon, an intellectual property (IP) company, I learned about the importance of IP infringement and assisted their marketing team and Brand protection team in spreading awareness and stopping the sale of fake products. Intellectual property is a rising issue that many consumers face. IP is a set of laws that protect creative and innovative products through legal rights called patents, copyrights, and trademarks. The photographs below are a perfect example of what I looked for while working with the SnapDragon Brand Protection team. When searching for fake popsockets, you look for any circular popsocket shaped item that does not have the “Popsocket” name or logo on it. If the popsocket looks like the first image, then it is assumed to be a real product and not reported, however, if it reflects the second image then it is reported to swoop, SnapDragons IP site. While interning with SnapDragon, I learned about the importance of IP and how much marketing education is needed in this field. Being an English literature major with a minor in Professional Writing and Rhetoric, writing is a major part of my education. This summer has provided me with an abundance of new skills in the marketing industry. On top of writing in a professional tone and publishing my blogs, I also learned how to use more platforms and understand how to market to a specific audience are great new assets. Interacting with others in the workplace and learning how to use my college education on a professional level has given me great insight into my future career in marketing.


SnapDragon uses intellectual property to find fake or counterfeited products online. To do so, their Brand Protection team scours through online sites and uses key terms to search for these fakes. Similar to an artist getting a copyright or trademark on their original work, when a piece of creative work is made and, more importantly, shown to the public, copyright protections are immediately granted to the creator. This protection extends to all creators and inventors. However, without this Ip infringement protection, it is almost impossible to protect your work from being counterfeited. 

While interning, I was tasked with searching for fake popsocket products. SnapDragon wished for me to work with their Brand Protection team to gain a better understanding of what IP is to ensure I could market their company appropriately. Additionally, I was assigned with research and writing multiple blogs on IP news to help inform and educate SnapDragon’s clients. Using marketing to help spread awareness to people purchasing items from the internet is crucial to aid and expand this business. Throughout this summer, I was in charge of running the SnapDragon social media sites. On top of writing informative blogs, I implemented a “Did You Know” campaign that informs people and clients about past IP infringement incidents. This campaign was set up in HubSpot to run through the end of September. Using Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn, SnapDragon is working towards expanding its social media footprint. While working within each of these platforms, I learned the importance of marketing towards a specific audience. For example, the posts I made for Facebook and Twitter had a less professional connotation compared to LinkedIn. This is due to Linkedin being a professional networking site and requiring more of a professional tone to its post compared to the other social media sites. 

Additionally, I also started a “ThrowBack Thursday” campaign that was posted to both Facebook and Twitter as a way to raise awareness of intellectual property issues. On top of setting up and improving SnapDragon’s social media statues, I also created a website for the Scottish Anti-Illicit trade group. SnapDragon works closely with this Scottish government organization to help stop and spread awareness of infringement. This website will allow current and future customers to find aid when faced with infringement. When creating the website on Wix, I took a pamphlet of information provided to me by the SAITG and morphed the information into a website. After I had the first draft of the site completed, I began the editing and review process with my boss. After changing simple things like fonts and colors to ensure the flow of the website was good, I sent the site directly to the SAITG to ensure it was to their liking. 

Despite being an IP company, SnapDragon is getting ahead in the IP world by using marketing to bring awareness to their company and cause. By having a better media footprint, more clients will know who to turn to when faced with infringement. Additionally, it allows current clients to keep up with current IP issues. By reading the multiple blogs I have contributed to the SnapDragon website, new and old clients can learn how to report infringement, learn when to start thinking about IP and how to use social media without being a target for infringement.

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PWR Internship Perspective: Sophie Gerth 

For the summer of 2021, I was a joint policy and communications intern for the National Immigration Forum, an immigrant advocacy group based in Washington D.C. that focuses on immigration reform, integration, border enforcement, and local immigration development through policy and field advocacy. As a member of the policy team, I attended Hill meetings alongside members of the Forum with congressional staffers to discuss important legislation and happenings to lobby for positive reform. I also wrote fact sheets and blog posts breaking down crucial topics in immigration, like the treatment of unaccompanied alien children at the border to veteran deportation protection. As a member of the communications team, I reviewed their website pages for usability and created a stylesheet of best practices to maximize readability. The internship was not only highly informative on the topic of immigration, but allowed me to better understand how rhetoric and discursive formations shape both the workforce as well as legislation. 

Putting all of the formal stuff aside, I had so many interesting experiences. Have you ever had two different “bosses,” tell you conflicting things? Have you ever had to navigate meeting after meeting until you realize that the rest of your life might just be one giant meeting? Have you ever felt like you didn’t belong in a community until one day it all changed and you didn’t even realize it? I had all of these things happen during my internship. I suppose this is why internships are essentially a microdose of the “real world.” Because these things happen every day and learning to navigate them is essential. I’m going to discuss one of the most important lessons that I’ve learned in a professional writing and rhetoric (PWR) context, but outside of PWR, I also learned that the real world is messy, complex, and oh-so-interesting. There was never a dull day and I wouldn’t have it any other way. 


Writing for Discourse Communities

One of the most important things that a professional writer encounters in the so-called “real world” is having to be especially cognizant of discourse communities. What is a discourse community, you may ask? According to Purdue Libraries, a discourse community refers to a group of people who use language that is “embedded in social relations and is regulated by conventions specific to particular groups or communities.” Therefore in any field where writing is a dominant technique of communication, discourse communities exist. This also means that while there are universal modes of communication (i.e. overlapping lingo and slang that are known by almost everyone), each field, area of study, or profession has its own distinct discourse community that an outsider may not be able to automatically understand. The discourse community might reflect the common lingo, slang, or acronyms used. It also might reflect a way of delivery: i.e. professional and formal (our findings reflect positive growth in our revenue sector) versus laid-back and chill (we are super excited to see a rise in revenue). While both have a similar underlying meaning, the delivery and rhetorical claims of the two methods are fundamentally different. 

But why does it matter? In university studies, the odds of you learning about the most relevant discourses in your major are highly likely. For example, if you were an Economics major, you might recognize and write using abbreviations for companies while monitoring their stocks because, after a certain point, you are so immersed in the discourse community that everybody knows what those acronyms mean. You use the abbreviations because everybody does; it’s the common practice. When you are able to read, write, and discuss within an area of study or profession and not have to ask yourself “what does that mean?” you are probably well immersed in that field. That can be a wonderful thing, because, congratulations; you’re an insider! However, one’s university major is only a fraction of the work one might complete once one has a diploma in hand. Perhaps you choose to pursue a field that is very different from what you studied. Perhaps you take a job that has intersecting fields. Once again you’re back at square one, relearning what it is like to enter a new discourse community, like your first day of high-school Spanish. You know that if you pay attention and put in the work, you’ll be fine, but at the end of the day, it’s your first day in a foreign language and it’s unfamiliar. In the workforce, it’s slightly more intimidating because instead of a teacher you have a boss and instead of a grade you have a paycheck. 

In my internship, I had this “first-day-of-Spanish” experience. As a Political Science major and PWS minor, I know that there is no way that I can know every acronym, every term, or everything there is to know about political science. There is simply too much in the field, and I am sure this is true in all areas of study. Nevertheless, when I took my internship at the Forum, I realized one crucial thing: I was going to have to put in extra time to travel into the immigration discourse community. This is because not once in my life have I taken a class that has talked about immigration or immigration policy. The extent of my knowledge came from articles that I have read about the topic, conversations I have overheard, and debates I have listened to in electoral times. Quickly after beginning my internship, I realized two more things: 1.) Discourse communities are real (and in the case of my internship, they usually take place in the form of acronyms), and 2.) Breaking down discourse communities and finding a universal, expansive language was not nearly as difficult as I thought with the use of simple strategies. 

One of my main jobs for the Forum was helping write fact sheets and blog posts on important legislation and things happening in the news that relates to immigration. In doing so much writing about a topic I was still becoming familiar with, I didn’t have to worry too much about writing too deeply into the discourse community of immigration, simply because I wasn’t a part of the community. As time went on, I developed several strategies to maintain neutral language and ensure that an outsider could read my writing and feel as confident and knowledgeable as I did. Those strategies included the following: 

  • Use acronyms as scarcely as possible to enhance readability: This one is really hard because especially in government writing, there are a lot of acronyms (example: in the first paragraph of an article I did on the William Wilberforce Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act (TVPRA) I also had to define Unaccompanied Alien Children (UACs), who through the TVPRA are turned over to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). That is four acronyms!). My strategy to minimize this is to always use the full name in any graphic/image captions that are scattered throughout the article. This allowed me to remind readers of the meaning of the acronyms they’re reading about without breaking up the flow of the article.
  • Present information in digestible formats like bullet points, because the visual design of information increases reader comprehension (or something like that!): See how I am doing this right now? It is so much easier to make note of my suggestions while reading this blog post because the takeaways are given to you in a list. If you come back to this, you’d know to look for the bullet points. If you are a visual learner, you might picture the bullet points. Suddenly the confusing jargon and stories that I might have referenced earlier are distinguished from the most important points 
  • Highlighting or bolding key points in simple language, because, as already noted, visual design……etc: See how I am modeling my strategies again? Bolding breaks through the noise and it gives the reader a one-sentence takeaway. It is efficient because it answers the question being asked concisely. If the readers want to delve into the discourse community, they can continue to read the elaboration and use context to clue them in. 
  • Use elements of multimedia to present important information redundantly (words, in a flowchart or image, etc.):  Demonstrating concepts in the form of multiple mediums can help make information more digestible to a person who might not belong in a specific discourse community. Charts, graphs, and images can be vehicles to deliver information and complement statistics named in a document. 


The ability to transcend and participate in discourse communities is difficult, mostly due to the fact that it is often difficult for us to conceptualize that we belong to discourse communities. But the truth is, we are not only active participants in discourse communities, but we help create them too. Those same constructions can be dismantled, or at least neutralized. In doing so, we become active participants in the community we write for. I found Jamie MacKinnon extremely compelling in the article “Becoming a Rhetor: Developing Writing Ability in a Mature, Writing-Intensive Organization.” In MacKinnon’s case study of individuals who work for a bank, they note that “the participants developed an effective, though largely tacit, understanding of the organization as a rhetorical domain. In acting rhetorically–in speaking, writing, talking, and listening–they were discovering what knowledge was socially significant and which forms of reasoned argument readers found persuasive. In doing so, the participants found a voice and conceptualized and assumed roles for themselves in a rhetorically found, rhetorically functioning community…In becoming rhetors, they became active participants in the community’s business” (420-21). Essentially, transcending discourse communities allows for active participation, which includes but is not limited to creation, disruption, fabrication, collaboration, and so many other active processes. 

This was perhaps the most important thing that I learned from my internship. I hope that my future classes at Elon and experiences will build upon this knowledge to help make politics more accessible to the public. While discourse communities build community, they also draw boundaries between who is “in” and “out.” It is time to let more people “in.”

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Lessons and Lingo from my Nonprofit Internship: Morgan Bassett

Morgan Bassett ’23 (PWR)

I felt very fortunate to accept an internship offer from the Human Services Council, a nationally recognized nonprofit. They tackle a myriad of issues pertaining to individuals’ safety, physical, and emotional health. My internship dealt directly with the Norwalk Mentor Program, based out of Norwalk, CT. Although it was a solely remote experience, I still worked alongside a team of interns and supervisors to register new mentors. There are currently over 300 Norwalk students who could greatly benefit from a caring adult in their lives, providing additional guidance and support during a time of difficulty. So, it was essential to develop persuasive deliverables that would encourage adults to mentor this fall.

During a period of eight weeks, I was able to produce and publish 5 deliverables for mentor recruitment. They’re now included in my digital portfolio, alongside reflections about the development process and execution of rhetorical choices. Each deliverable presented a new set of challenges and opportunities to improve my current writing abilities. More importantly, I now recognize several overarching themes that represent this collection of work and even define my entire internship experience. 

  1. Repurposing existing texts/materials saves invaluable time.

I discovered this strategy during my first week while composing an email pitch for potential new mentors. The pitch needed to provide an overview of the Norwalk Mentor Program for unfamiliar audiences, but I too was unfamiliar with these specifics. I ended up utilizing previously written articles about the program and surfing the Human Service Council’s website for other necessary facts. This initial process of repurposing allowed me to write a 5-line email pitch, and I eventually included these lines in other deliverables (i.e., the press release and social media posts). Outside of the internship, I’ve implemented efforts of repurposing to write digital articles and tackle course-related projects.  

  1. Sales-based strategies seep into communication in unexpected ways.

One of my supervisors explained that life is filled with sales lingo and behaviors. I can’t say I agree with their viewpoint wholeheartedly, but I did eventually see how my communicative efforts were riddled with specific sales-based strategies. One of these strategies was persuasion, which seeped into each deliverable. I needed to truly convince my audience to become a mentor before the summer ended. The urgency was heightened, so my final product passionately conveyed how mentoring was fun and easy, free of charge for only an hour (per week) of someone’s time. I was also very direct in my initial pitches and correspondences. My closing line would ask for a phone call with the recipient, then I would provide my own availability for that particular week. I quickly learned this maneuver was producing more sincere and timely responses, even if someone was telling me they were unavailable to mentor. I believe the goals of this internship require a strong devotion to sales techniques, especially since we are promoting the benefits of this program to a busy professional or unfamiliar individual. 

  1. Keep it colloquial!

I’ve always recognized and accepted my technical, formal writing style. It has defined my college research papers, argumentative pieces, and additional academic projects. However, I realized this style wasn’t consistently reaching my target audience for the internship, which included any adult from age 18 to 60 years old. This extremely large range forced me to shift into a more conversational tone, omitting excessive vocabulary and other unnecessary elements. I tackled this approach in all my deliverables, but I paid special attention to it while composing my press release. It was my longest deliverable that included a program overview and multiple quotes from the director. This higher word count held me accountable for a colloquial feel and read of the press release, which could become a document that recruited the most mentors during the internship. I composed each sentence to include the most important details, making sure not to repeat or embellish this information. Additionally, I read the document aloud several times, imagining that I was hearing it over the radio or reading it in a newspaper. Did any words or phrasing trip me up or sound unnatural to the ear? Could I simplify anything I had written even further? These questions allowed me to thoroughly evaluate this deliverable and deeply consider the importance of a clear, succinct write-up. 

I’m very thankful for the opportunity to dive into non-academic spaces and projects while discovering new communicative tools for my own storytelling.

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Getting Into the Headspace of a Social Media Marketing Specialist: Alejandra Gonzalez

Alejandra Gonzalez ’23 (PWR)

Becoming the Marketing and Communication intern for the Center for Access and Success’s First-Generation Student Services has been an eye-opening experience about the digital media world. I heard about the internship from Oscar Miranda, the center’s Assistant Director, when I would enter the office for small check-up chats or for resources that I needed as a first-generation student. I remember wanting to sign up after hearing him speak about the plans and ideas for the internship, but I did not think I was ready yet since I was a first-year at the time. After taking a few PWR classes where I learned the principles of design and marketing strategies, I felt more confident to sign up and step into the role. 

I expected the internship to involve the promotion of events and resources by reposting school events or creating posts for upcoming events. I knew I needed to use my creativity to engage our students and to promote resources provided by offices around campus, but I expected it to be simple solo work. Thankfully, that was not the case. During my first meeting with Oscar, I realized there were fine details about the job that most do not consider at first. I learned that my role would include more than simply creating promotional content. I would be responsible for finding first-generation student accomplishments to highlight, reaching out to students for engagement, creating informational posts, and researching my audience’s expectations. Seeing the list of responsibilities for this semester made me think about the even bigger responsibilities that people who hold social media positions have. I thought about the content they created, the strategies they carried out, and the intricate schedules they stuck to. 

Before I began creating or trying to post anything on the social media pages, I decided to do research on the audience we were trying to reach. This audience analysis ensured that I knew the values and expectations that our audience would be inclined to respond to online. Oscar properly introduced me to the small, yet strongly diverse, first-generation community at Elon. We knew of about 500 young students on-campus and current followers on social media. In order to devise a social media plan, I investigated what social media platform they interacted with the most, which was Instagram. The posts that they interacted with the most were ones that included familiar faces and questions they could answer. However, during the internship, I saw that the page also engaged with other first-generation dedicated pages. This caused me to change a few of the features in the content I was creating. I wasn’t just making posts for our students on-campus but other first-generation organizations too. I added college resources that were universally obtainable along with resources available at Elon, including the library, academic advising, and more. Once I had a better understanding of who to connect with, my journey to step into the shoes of the people who work within the field of marketing and communications began.

Once again, my main role was to boost student engagement, create informational posts, and research my audience’s expectations. To reach out to students, I decided to create a weekly Instagram Live that allowed me to interview several students and highlight their successes. I created a light and inviting promotional post that detailed the person and when the interview was going to take place. My informational posts were based on what I saw the audience wanted to see such as upcoming events. I thank my previous PWR courses that allowed me to have practice and develop the skills necessary to create content. I revisited the principles of design and other pre-existing material to create new content for the feed. For example, to create the “S’mores Social” flyer I went through the CRAP principles as a type of checklist. I chose colors that contrasted with each in order to make the information stand out. Since the sky was navy blue, I decided yellow would be more visible and can connect with the color of the stars. I added the star icons because the main background did not emphasize them a lot and added an outline of a s’more to highlight what the event was dedicated to. For captions, I maintained a tone that was encouraging and tried to ask questions for engagement. I created a schedule that allowed me to post my campaigns on specific days. For example, True/False posts on Tuesdays or the First-Gen Lives on Friday.

This internship also developed my interpersonal skills as I interviewed students and created connections with faculty and staff. It expanded my knowledge about marketing and social engagement. It allowed me to expand my understanding of the importance of both textual and visual rhetoric in connecting with an audience. After finishing this internship, I feel prepared to become a social media specialist if I choose to pursue a career in that field. It exposed me to the possibility of creating promotional posters for other people online. I also feel encouraged to begin exploring opportunities for graphic work in other departments on campus.

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PWR Internship Perspective: Liz Crouse

Elizabeth Crouse ’22 (PWR)

This semester, I served as one of two Publishing Interns at Elon University’s Center for Engaged Learning (CEL), an on-campus office that centers around the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, a field that aims to improve student learning experience by investigating teaching practices. Throughout the semester, I applied the skills I learned in my Professional Writing and Rhetoric classes to copyedit blog posts, create graphics, manage social media, create informative video scripts, and other tasks to further the Center’s mission. As a part of the internship experience, I was mentored by Dr. Travis Maynard, who, during my first week as a nervous intern, introduced me to a 1990 study of interns in similar positions to my own at the University of Minnesota. In “Moving Beyond the Academic Community: Transitional Stages in Professional Writing” by Anson and Forsberg, the authors described the transition from classroom to internship in three phases: expectation, or the phase when the intern assumes what the experience will be like, disorientation, or the process of learning that their expectation may have been inaccurate, and transition/resolution, or when the intern learns to adapt the skills they have to the internship setting. 

These steps relate to the horizontal and vertical transfer systems required to make the transition into a professional setting. “Transfer” is defined as taking what you learn in one context and applying it to another, and within academia, it generally refers to the transition from classroom to the workplace. Horizontal transfer is essentially a 1:1 translation of skills from the classroom to an internship, meaning that the skills I develop in the classroom are the exact skills required in the workplace. While convenient, these transitions are rare. Vertical transfer, on the other hand, happens when a gap exists between the skills and concepts learned in the classroom and those required in an internship setting, prompting a significant learning curve — or “disorientation” — during the transition from classroom to professional setting. This type of transfer was more prevalent in my experience with my CEL internship. Vertical transfer, however, is one goal of the Professional Writing and Rhetoric department’s internship requirement; it is a chance to learn how skills from the classroom fit into a professional environment.

Going into the internship during my own “expectation” phase, I was nervous but still confident because of my background in classes like PWR 215: Professional Writing and Rhetoric and PWR 211: Publishing and Editing 1. I knew the basics of editing, content creation, and graphic design; however, I knew little about CEL itself and less about the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning. On the first day of my internship, I was given time to peruse the CEL website and learn more about the mission and function of the office.

The first way I experienced a “disorientation” phase was during my time as a copy editor. Although I took Publishing and Editing 1 over Winter Term, I had difficulty applying the copyediting skills I learned in class to dense academic writing. To improve my skills, I talked with Dr. Maynard, and we were able to create a more thorough editing process through workbook exercises. Each week, I saw my skills grow as we reviewed by editing Chicago-style references, using commas correctly, and identifying tricky proper noun rules. Ultimately, my editing skills are much stronger now, and I feel more prepared each time I start to copyedit a new post.

Initially, the professional environment was disorienting as, in some ways, it directly contrasts the traditional classroom environment I am accustomed to. Some tasks, assigned with intentional vagueness, left me feeling confused and underqualified. However, throughout the semester, I spent time watching YouTube tutorials to improve my abilities in the Adobe Suite (Photoshop, InDesign, Illustrator, and Premiere Pro), which in turn allowed me to be more creative and better understand what professional graphic design norms and standards are. By the end of the semester, assignments no longer seemed vague, but instead seemed to allow room for creativity and interpretation within the boundaries that I now understand as industry standards.

As the semester drew to a close, I entered the transition/resolution phase of my internship. In the office, I felt more comfortable interacting with my coworkers, and my work outside of the office to improve my skills is starting to pay off. This internship was a great opportunity to catch a glimpse of what a publishing career looks like in higher education, and I look forward to utilizing the skills I’ve learned in my internship in a publishing and editing career moving forward. I felt exponentially more prepared to begin my summer internship as a Copywriter Intern at Red Ventures, an international public relations and brand management firm, with a Charlotte, NC, branch, and I could not be more excited and grateful for my supervisors at the Center for Engaged Learning, Dr. Jessie L. Moore and Jennie Goforth, and my internship mentor Dr. Travis Maynard, all of whom have helped me transition into my professional role as a writer through my internship experience. I look forward to returning to the Center for Engaged Learning in the Fall as the Senior Publishing Intern. To see a full portfolio of my work from my internship, click here.

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How to Price Design Work

Charles Arrington ’21 (PWR)

Freelance writing and design is a great source of income for those in the field of PWR. It allows for working on your own schedule, setting your own rates, and most importantly, doing what you love. However, getting started as a freelance writer is no small task. You must consider where to advertise your services and what exactly it is that you want to sell. I chose to look into Fiverr when it came time to start marketing my services and skills in a freelance setting.

Fiverr is a great site devoted to helping professionals find work through an easy to use platform. Getting started with an account was straightforward and presented no problems, but when I was prompted to list my first ‘gig,’ I ran into the issue of pricing my services. That’s where digital design and marketing professional Will Paterson comes in.

Through YouTube, Will offers a series of videos devoted to helping you build your digital design empire. The one I was most interested in was a video on how to price your work. It evoked the same spirit that one of my peers captured in a line, “What is this work really worth to you and your business?” Below I will break down key pieces of advice given by Will Paterson; here’s a link to the video for future reference. It is an excellent video for students and young professionals looking to get into freelance work – especially if you are not sure where to start.

Paterson’s tips include:

  • Position yourself – If you want to succeed in getting work at all, you have to position yourself (On Fiverr in my case) as an expert in the field you choose to work in. For example, my graphic design skills I’d say are intermediate, but my technical writing skills I would rank as expert level. That being said, clearly this is the area that I’d want to market services for primarily. In order to effectively position yourself as an expert, you must show examples of your work and your best products to convince your future clients that you are the real deal.
  • Increase your skill set – While you may be an expert in one category of design and writing, there are plenty of other people that you will have to compete with to get the paycheck and opportunities you want. By increasing your skill set and continuing to learn more skills and techniques in your field, you end up with quite a bit more to offer the client. If you can specialize in one area and bolster it with other relevant skills and technical knowledge, a client is much more likely to want to prioritize working with you over others.
  • Gain trust – Clients are much more likely to work with you and pay higher amounts for your work if you are transparent about your past projects and provide plenty of examples to show your prowess. Additionally, offering to meet with the client to establish more of a relationship goes a long way in gaining trust. Offer to meet them and discuss the project while also letting them learn more about you as a writer or designer.
  • Rehearse negotiations – Being in the freelance world will put you in situations requiring negotiation a considerable amount of the time. This is where you shouldn’t be afraid to ask for more money, especially when you are confident in the value of your work. It is okay to say no to clients who refuse to pay your target amount; in fact Will Paterson and his group say no to 80% of clients that are stuck on the idea of getting the work done for less than asking price.
  • Add value – The most important foundation to setting your prices is an accurate assessment of value. Asking yourself questions about the potential your work has in the long run for any client is essential. You are not just a producer of things; you are a writer. For this reason, it isn’t just an article or blog post that you’re selling; it is your intellectual property plus time and effort.

These tips are all extremely helpful when figuring out how to price your work, and even more so in reaffirming that you should probably be charging more for your work. When you know how to assess the value of your work, you will be paid well for it.


Charles (Ross) Arrington is a 2021 graduate of Elon University with a degree in Professional Writing & Rhetoric.

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How the Time-Value Prioritization Funnel can help you during your college career

Myrta Santana ’21 (PWR & ARH)

I have always struggled with prioritizing my tasks, be it in school, work, or just personal pleasures. I manage to get everything done in the end, but sometimes the work that I do is not the best I could offer. When looking for skill advancement trainings, I considered looking at more design-oriented tutorials, but quickly realized that if I could not manage my time appropriately, then having the skills would not matter because I would not have the time. “Prioritizing your Tasks” by Dave Crenshaw helped me understand what I do wrong with my time and pointed out some good habits that I have and should focus more on.

Time-Value Prioritization Funnel with six decision stages

Screenshot of Dave Crenshaw’s Time-Value Prioritization Funnel

The biggest takeaway from this training was the concept of the Time-Value Prioritization Funnel (TVP). This is a metaphorical funnel with 6 levels or steps that categorize your tasks.

  • Step one: Not me, never again – tasks that are a waste of time
  • Step Two: Perhaps, but not now – tasks that you might be interested in working on later
  • Step Three: Yes, but not now – tasks that have value but have aren’t due soon
  • Step Four: Yes, but not anyone – tasks that can be permanently handled with technology
  • Step Five: Yes, but not me – tasks that you can delegate
  • Step Six: Yes, me – tasks that you need to do and have deadlines that are coming up

These levels are meant to represent a sort of inverted pyramid, starting with a wide scope that will catch the clunky projects that should not be on the list at all, and then proceeds to keep catching the tasks that are being processed until you are left with the tasks that are meant for you and need to be done now.

The training went as far as to offer examples of how to apply this system to actual situations. You would start by determining what project you want to evaluate. Take this blog post for example. This post is something that has value, and so it goes past that first step. I know all the information I need for the project so we can go past step two. The deadline is very close, and this is something that a device cannot do for me, so that covers steps three and four. The blog is based on my experience and what I have learned, meaning I cannot delegate, moving past step five. Having determined that this project must be done by me soon, I must go ahead and schedule to do it within the coming days. This is the funnel in action!

Early in the training, Crenshaw discusses a way in which we can try ranking the value of tasks in accordance with our time by saying:

“List all the different kinds of work-related activities that you perform. Then, after you’ve listed out all the activities, write the estimated value per hour for each of those activities… Then, after you’ve made this list, with all the values per hour, rank each activity according to how much it’s worth.”

In doing this, you are preparing to see what you will run through the funnel, and it will also help if you have more than one task that fall within step six.

I went into this training thinking that there wasn’t much I could learn when it came to prioritizing, but I was proved wrong. Crenshaw reassures us that procrastinating is useful when done correctly, something that helped me be more confident in my study habits and not feel like my process was entirely bad. I think this training would be an amazing resource for any major, but especially PWR majors. We have so many focuses and projects that we often get lost in them, and having a training like this early on in your college career could make a big difference in your experience as a student. I think what I liked the most is that Crenshaw doesn’t shame you or make you feel bad if you don’t prioritize properly.

From a procrastinator who gets caught up in small meaningless tasks, give this training a try; you won’t regret it.

Young woman in a maroon graduation gown with a yellow stole and red cord


Myrta Santana graduated in 2021 with majors in Professional Writing & Rhetoric and Art History.

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Mad Men in the Digital Space: How additional courses on running ad campaigns can benefit PWR students

Angela Myers ’21 (PWR)

I decided to complete a Google Ads course because one of my clients asked me to run a Google Ads campaign, and it could be a useful skill to know as a future digital marketer. Whenever I have conversations with those in the digital marketing space, they always warn me away from running Google Ads; it’s a tricky thing to do well and takes a lot of practice (practice which includes investing in advertising). With this warning in mind, I went into the LinkedIn Learning Google Ads Essential Training course believing it would be about as fun as going to the dentist. The outcome of the course was to gain my Google Ads certification, a free exam from Google, and to outline a campaign for my client by the end of the semester.

The Google Ads Essential Training course is 2 hours and 28 minutes long and did a great job demystifying what Google Ads is. While there are some more complicated parts of running Google Ads campaigns, if one understands SEO, marketing funnels, Google Analytics, and basic copywriting principles, the course is easy to understand. At its heart, Google Ads campaigns rely on a persuasive, easy user experience from when someone initially clicks on the ad until they make a purchase, similar to many of the principles learned by Professional Writing and Rhetoric students.

When designing a campaign, one needs to come up with a couple SEO friendly keywords to plug into the description (usually three phrases) which will not only adhere to popular search results, but also appeal to a human when they see the ad. Depending on the type of ad, you might also be able to show a visual on the initial page or add a short description to entice them to click. Whenever they click on an ad, Google charges the advertiser so you want to ensure the landing page associated with the ad offers what the initial phrases advertised, is easy to navigate, and persuades users to convert (whether that be to join a newsletter, purchase a product, agree to hop on a sales call, or complete another revenue-earning task).

The part which differed from the basic principles of rhetoric, such as creating persuasive content with the user in mind, was understanding the analytical decisions needed for a successful ad campaign. Along with searching for keywords, advertisers have to understand how much money to invest in campaigns and how to increase the conversion rate to make the cost per click worth the investment.

This course did have two downfalls. The first is that while it is a great introductory course to Google Ads, it did not teach me enough to get my Google Ads certification. I had to also take the one hour and 12 minute LinkedIn Learning course, Advanced Google Ads, and complete an analysis on past campaigns run by my client to understand enough to pass the certification. If you are interested in running ad campaigns for yourself, clients, or as part of a future role or internship, taking these courses in tandem with some real world Google Ad examples will offer a comprehensive dive into the world of paid marketing.

The second downfall is that I would not recommend this course unless you have extensive knowledge of marketing funnels, Google Analytics, SEO, and basic copywriting principles. There are other fantastic LinkedIn Learning courses on these topics, and SEO and copywriting principles are touched upon in PWR classes, but you really have to have a good grasp on these three fields before diving into Google Ads. While a serious time investment, these Google Ads courses can be a great asset to those looking to go into paid advertising or reflecting on how the main goal of digital marketing, and most writing roles, should be to drive conversions.

A young woman with brown hair sitting in a chair, holding a MacBook


Angela Myers is a content creator, social media strategist, and writer. You can connect with her freelance work at or her personal brand which provides book recommendations and literary lifestyle tips to an audience of over 20,000 booklovers on Instagram, Pinterest, TikTok, and Youtube.

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InDesign 2020 Essential Training on LinkedIn Learning

Abby Fuller ’21 (PWR & ENG:CRW)  

This year I had the opportunity to serve as Editor-in-Chief for Colonnades Literary and Art Journal, Elon University’s student run organization that publishes student work in visual art, fiction, nonfiction, and poetry. Although I served as a Co-Nonfiction Editor the previous school year, the new job of Editor-in-Chief required a lot of new skills that were less familiar to me, and one of the most important skills was InDesign.

I had some previous experience in InDesign when I took PWR 2100 (formerly PWR 217): Professional Writing and Technology Studio in Fall of 2018, but a lot of my skills were basic, and I created a final InDesign deliverable for the course that I wasn’t that proud of. Before I put together the annual issue of Colonnades, I knew I needed to advance my skills in that area and decided to take a LinkedIn Learning course in order to gain confidence in the technology. I chose LinkedIn Learning because it is free as an Elon student, and because my time as a student at Elon is quickly coming to an end, I decided to take advantage of this educational opportunity when I still could. Additionally, I’ve learned that I do better with short videos and quizzes rather than passive reading or videos that are long and drawn out. I also like the idea of completing individual skills rather than wide-sweeping topics. The course that I specifically took is titled InDesign 2020 Essential Training, and I found it very interesting and informative.

Screen shot from InDesign 2020 Essential Training course on LinkedIn Learning

Screen shot from InDesign 2020 Essential Training course on LinkedIn Learning

The essential training covered a lot of basics that were helpful for me in gaining a wide range of skills and not just a specific set of knowledge. Although the course started out with things that felt a little too basic, such as creating a new document, it laid a nice foundation of knowledge that I was able to build on later. It also allowed you to work with exercise files, helping you practice the skills you learn. The most important thing that I learned was in the final major section of the course, which focused on packaging, printing, and exporting. This is something that I didn’t know much about. Before the course I thought a simple click on the “save” button would do the trick; however when working with a document with lots of fonts, images, and links, packaging a file proved to be one of the most important things to do correctly. In the beginning, saving the 125-page journal made me anxious because I was worried that I would mess something up and lose all the work, but through this training, I gained confidence in my ability to create important and clean work while also being able to save it correctly.

The skills that I learned in InDesign 2020 Essential Training helped me work more confidently and efficiently when putting together the Colonnades journal. I was able to work on the basics without the help of my design editor, which allowed her to work more creatively on the overall design and not just input the content into the software. I also found myself being a more collaborative thinker, who took into consideration the format and limitations of the software when considering design and aesthetics. Additionally, over the 2020-2021 school year I worked as the Publishing Intern for the Center for Engaged Learning, and because of my new knowledge about InDesign, I was put on more technologically advanced projects, such as making interactive PDFs.

In my future, I hope to work in writing and publishing, fields that work with InDesign as the leading standard in publication software. I will be working with the software in my professional future, and I am so grateful that I was able to expand my skill set and work with even more confidence. Through the training program and applying my knowledge in tangible ways, I feel confident about my abilities and what I can bring to a workplace.

I would definitely recommend completing this InDesign 2020 Essential Training course if you want to grow in your InDesign skills. Additionally, LinkedIn Learning has so many helpful courses that are free for Elon students, so this is the perfect opportunity to build your skillset in a structured way.

young woman with brown hair and glasses standing in front of a body of water

Abby Fuller is a 2021 graduate of Elon University with majors in Professional Writing & Rhetoric and English: Creative Writing.

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