Category Archives: Student Perspective

Writing Science

by Carey Spence

Writing Science students in CUPID, collaborating on a project.

You might be thinking, what does science have to do with writing? The answer: a lot! From writing lab reports and research findings, to popular science news articles, communication is a key component of scientific disciplines. To give students an intro to writing in a scientific context, one course available is Professor Michael Strickland’s writing science class. Students in this class work on a variety of projects in order to hone their skills in writing for science publications.

To give you a closer look into the class, I interviewed Professor Strickland’s current students, both professional writing majors and minors and students outside of the discipline. The current project they are working on is understanding how science writers are using rhetorical strategies in a popular science novel of their choice. The second part of the project is to pick a topic in popular science and write an article for publication.

According to junior Abby Fuller, what she loved about this project was the ability to pick a novel of her choice and learn key rhetorical strategies for science writing. The author of the novel she picked, David Wallace-Wells, was not a scientist, so he had to spend more time building ethos to be a credible source on climate change in his book The Uninhabitable Earth.

Professor Michael Strickland consulting with a student while another works on revisions.

Senior Olivia Jung also had an interesting perspective on the class itself. As a science major and professional writing minor, Olivia wanted to bring both disciplines together in a way that was different than just writing lab reports and formal presentations of information and findings. She was particularly interested in science writing in a creative way. This class allowed her to learn what goes into writing for popular science news sources and publications. In a similar thread, senior professional writing major, Ashley Andrews, followed this up with specific skills students learn in the science writing class. Because Ashley wants to work in the technical writing field, she needed to learn ways to present technical, complicated information to a general audience. Ashley called this the ability to “translate” scientific information to an audience with little to no scientific background.

Science writing is a class that truly exemplifies the claim that professional writing is a highly diversified liberal arts program. Students from a variety of academic backgrounds have taken this class in order to bridge the gap between technical fields and writing. If you are looking to add an interesting class to your schedule, consider taking science writing when it’s next available!

 

Carey Spence is the 2018-2019 social media intern for Professional Writing & Rhetoric. Carey is double majoring in English Literature and Strategic Communications, with a minor in Professional Writing.

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PWR Perspective on Study Abroad: Myrta Santana-Santini

Besides fulfilling the internship and research requirements of their major, some PWR students decide to take advantage of one or more of the other experiential learning opportunities that Elon offers. Studying abroad (either for the summer, winter term, or a whole semester) is one of the most popular options. One PWR major who chose to include this experience in her college journey is senior Myrta Santana-Santini; she studied in Alicante, Spain for the 2020 spring semester. While Myrta unfortunately had to return to the United States early because of the COVID-19 pandemic, her experience abroad informed her understanding of languages, world cultures, her professional goals, and herself, as she shared in her responses to the following questions:

Why did you decide to study abroad in Spain and more specifically in Alicante?

Having been born and raised in San Juan, Puerto Rico, with an education that was primarily in Spanish, the best answer I can give is that I missed the language. I love the English language, but something about learning in your native language is different. I also have to confess that I chose Spain because I knew it would not be a major challenge, meaning that I could learn while also taking a break of sorts. Now as to why Alicante? The beach. I wanted to be close to the beach again, because after living my whole life close to the beach, these last three to four years in NC where the beach is three hours away has been weird.

What classes did you take while abroad?

While I was abroad, I took five classes total, one of them being a two-week intensive course on the Spanish language and grammar. This was actually funny and frustrating because while I am fluent in Spanish and it’s my first language, Puerto Rican Spanish is very different from Spain Spanish. After that course was done, I began my full semester classes which included History of Spain, Art History of Spain, Colloquial Spanish, and Pop Culture in Spain. These classes were all very interesting, and they helped me adapt to the day to day life in Spain while also learning Spanish history. My favorite was the Colloquial Spanish class because so many words that I use have multiple meanings, and being able to pick those out and see why they mean what they do to each place was an amazing experience.

Did you visit any interesting places while in Spain, and if so, where did you go?

I was only able to visit some places in Spain–not as many as I would have wanted, but enough for the time I had. I went to Barcelona, Valencia, and Granada for a weekend each, and the experiences I had in each city were unforgettable. Granada was my favorite because of the mix of cultures present there and the historical landmark La Alhambra. As an art history double major, being able to visit this fortress is something I am still not over.

I was only able to visit one place outside Spain, but it was Paris, so that made up for it. Paris is an amazing city that captivated me; one of my favorite moments from my time there was in a bookstore (because I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t visit a bookstore abroad). The Shakespeare and Company Bookstore is a hole-in-the-wall store that everyone seems to know about and want to visit, and I understand why. The space inside is cramped, covered in books of all genres, and has a calm and serene feeling even when there are many people inside. As I was walking around, I saw that they would stamp whatever book you bought with a store stamp as proof that you visited, so of course I had to buy a book. The employees also wrote surprise poems on a typewriter for customers to read. It was the perfect experience for my English-major-nerd heart.

What did you find most interesting about Spanish culture?

The most interesting things about Spanish culture, in my opinion, are how laid back they are and how little they care about the small things. We learned the saying “no pasa nada,” which translates to “everything is okay” or “there is no problem.”

How did the semester go for you after COVID-19 became a global pandemic?

Unfortunately, I only had two and half months in Spain, instead of the four and a half I was supposed to have. While I am grateful for the time I did have, it was frustrating because many of the trips I had planned were scheduled for the second half of the semester. The program also did not want to give us a refund for a portion of the semester we didn’t have there because we still finished the classes online, but it wasn’t the same. The whole purpose of those classes was the immersion–to practice what we learned in a real environment. So in a way the experience was not complete, but in the end, “no pasa nada.”

How did this experience apply to your majors and/or future career goals?

I want to hopefully work within the editing and publishing field, and I want to be able to use my bilingual abilities within my career. I have considered working with translation, and this experience taught me that even when you know something there is always more to learn, because I learned much more about the Spanish language during my time abroad within the context of Spain.

Would you recommend the Alicante program to other students? Why or why not?

I don’t know if it was because of the pandemic, but I will admit that the Alicante CIEE office was a bit disorganized. However, the professors themselves were amazing. Again, I can’t give an accurate recommendation because of the situation, but I will say that location-wise, the experience is worth it.

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PWR Internship Perspective: Abby Fuller

Besides undergraduate research, every PWR major at Elon is required to complete at least one internship before graduation. Many students find writing-related internship positions over the summer with a variety of companies and organizations across the country, but some choose to intern during the school year with local organizations or departments and programs on Elon’s campus. Senior Abby Fuller is one of the PWR students who has an on-campus internship this semester—she serves as a Publishing Intern at the Center for Engaged Learning (CEL). CEL Publishing Interns receive class credit but no pay during their first semester, and many are given the opportunity to continue the internship for a second semester with pay. Besides these benefits, Abby has shared other insights into her daily internship work as well as its correlations to her PWR courses and future career plans:

How did you hear about and apply for your internship?

I heard about the Publishing Internship through emails that were sent out to all Elon English majors and on the Elon Job Network. After doing my own research from the Job Network, I saw that the position was in my skill set and decided to apply.

What are your typical internship tasks each week?

My job changes every single day depending on the tasks that I need to complete. But I go into my workspace at the Center for Engaged Learning from 2pm–5pm on Mondays and Wednesdays. After talking with my boss, Jennie Goforth (CEL’s Managing Editor), who gives me a list of tasks for the day or week, I typically am given the full three hours to complete those tasks on my own. Some tasks I’ve done in the past include book trailers for new releases (see an example below!), social media reports for comparable publishing companies, and copy editing work.

What is your favorite thing so far about the internship?

I have loved how I am given a lot of freedom to complete the tasks in the way I think is best, and I love how much feedback I receive from my two bosses, Jennie and Jessie (CEL’s Director, Jessie L. Moore). They are both committed to making this experience something I will grow from and helping to build my professional skills. I have been so thankful for their commitment to helping me grow and learn.

Have you been able to apply the skills that you’ve learned in your PWR classes to this internship, and if so, how?

During my social media reports and book trailer proposals, I try to include rhetorical terms that look at the audience and how the ethos of CEL is being presented in this project. I have had a lot of opportunities to look at rhetorical skills in copy editing as well—to check that the voice of the writer matches the intended audience and purpose.

Does this internship relate to your post-graduation plans, and if so, how?

As a Creative Writing and PWR double major, I have definitely been interested in getting into the publishing field post-graduation. Although I would ideally like to work in a more mainstream market and not specifically academic/higher education writing, I have been able to apply a lot of these lessons to any type or genre of work, because the process remains very similar across many fields. I also recognize that not everyone gets their dream job at their dream company in their dream field right after graduation, and I think this is a great lesson in learning about the process even if the field itself is not fully using my skill set. Lastly, as a Creative Writing major, I would love to write and have someone publish a book of mine one day, so this experience has been helpful to learn more about the field and see if this is something I could do myself one day.

Would you recommend this internship to other PWR students? Why or why not?

Yes, I definitely would. I love working with Jessie Moore and Jennie Goforth, and it has been so convenient to work on campus and to learn from people who understand my life as an Elon student as well. I would love to talk with anyone interested in this position in the future.

 

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PWR Perspective on Undergraduate Research: Angela Myers

Angela Myers sitting in a chair, holding a laptopOne of the unique things about Elon’s PWR program is that every major is required to complete two credits of undergraduate research during their time in college. This research can involve joining an established group project with other students and faculty in the English Department, proposing an independent study, or doing a combination of the two. One student who chose the second option is senior Angela Myers. Angela is an Honors Fellow and received the Lumen prize in 2019 to further her thesis research. Her research examines the rhetoric of colleges’ online sexual assault prevention courses, and she conducted a comparative study between courses used in the U.S. and those in New Zealand (where she studied abroad during Spring 2020). Her research also led her to launch a social media campaign about sexual assault prevention in collaboration with the GLC.

How did you come up with the idea for your research project?

I’ve always been interested in the relationship between public health and rhetoric, so I knew I wanted to do a research project at that intersection. However, I wasn’t entirely sure what I wanted to do. One night, I woke up at 3am with the idea of researching sexual violence prevention. The idea wasn’t fully formed, but I wrote it down in my journal, went back to sleep, and researched the issue further in the morning. I discovered not a lot of scholars were studying how to communicate about sexual violence prevention, so I emailed my research mentor, Dr. Jessie Moore, and the rest is history. You never know when an idea will come to you, especially as a writer, so I always recommend keeping a notebook nearby for any ideas you might have. 

What methods did you use to study your topic?

For my Lumen project, I did mixed-methods research. My mentor and I scaffolded the research into phases. In fall of my junior year we conducted interviews with students, staff, and faculty on campus to learn more about the rhetorical situation for prevention programming at Elon University. In the winter of my junior year, I completed a rhetorical analysis of Elon’s program. When I studied abroad in the spring, I conducted a comparative rhetorical analysis with a prevention program in New Zealand, a country known for some of the best sexual violence prevention in the world. This fall, I am conducting usability tests for the project to collect user-feedback on samples that enact different recommendations from the interviews and rhetorical analyses. 

From this larger research project, I connected with the GLC to design a social media campaign around sexual violence, Elon Empowers. Elon Empowers is a university-wide social media campaign to promote the idea that sexual violence prevention is possible. Especially in a climate like 2020, it’s important to provide positive messaging and action steps people can take to improve their community. For this campaign, we will be analyzing Instagram analytics to determine the effectiveness of materials and will send out a pre- and post-campaign survey to a group of Elon students to further research the effectiveness of Elon Empowers.

What was the most interesting thing (in your opinion) that you’ve found so far in your research?

The most interesting thing I’ve found so far is that prevention programs which empower the users to act, give them the resources to do so, and promote the idea that prevention is possible are the most effective prevention programs. In order to create effective prevention programming, courses need to appeal to shared values, use clear and easy-to-understand language, and provide an overall uplifting narrative with strategies to stop sexual violence instead of simply telling people, “Don’t do it.”

How did the collaboration with the GLC come about?

During the interview phase of my Lumen and Honors research, I interviewed Becca Bishopric Patterson from the GLC. During the interview, we began talking about how students are involved in the GLC and how various Fellows have done projects with the GLC in the past. Becca mentioned how she was interested in creating a social norms campaign, or a communications/professional writing campaign which tries to change the perceptions and beliefs of the viewers through communicating a different message than a common false narrative. From there, I saw the connections between the campaign she was hoping to run and my own research findings. I’d found that many college students don’t believe prevention is possible and/or that they can’t stop sexual violence as bystanders. After the interview, I emailed Becca about the potential of a social norms campaign on the GLC’s Instagram and that’s how Elon Empowers was born. Elon Empowers intends to present the idea that prevention is possible and give Elon students small, tangible ways they can mitigate sexual violence on and off campus. Overall, there’s constantly opportunities which are only an email inquiry away for PWR majors at Elon; the campus community is always so excited when students want to take on projects and research which allows them to use their skills to help our Elon community!

Will you be presenting your research anywhere else, and if so, where and when?

Since the beginning, I have been cognizant about making sure the research is received by those who need it most. As of now, I will be publishing part of my research in the upcoming issue of Young Scholars in Writing and will be presenting it on a panel at the Conference on College Composition and Communication and SURF in Spring of 2021. I will also make sure the research is available to the GLC, the Title IX Office, and anyone else at Elon who might be interested in my findings. I’m also considering some public-facing speaking and writing engagements to share the project. 

What do you hope that your research will accomplish, or what do you hope people take away from your research?

I hope this research can help improve sexual violence prevention at Elon and across the country. I’d also love for people to be able to use this research when considering how they address sexual violence in their own lives. So many times the media, organizations, and individuals use language which places the blame on the victim or they don’t communicate in a clear and effective way about sexual violence and how it can be prevented. Obviously this research is just one small piece of a much larger puzzle, but I’m happy it can contribute to the scholarship and the work being done to help mitigate sexual violence and other barriers to equity and safety for all.

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PWR Social Media Internship Reflection: Spring 2020

The Journey

Emily HollandMy journey as the PWR Social Media Intern has been educational and helped me to grow both personally and professionally, but honestly, it’s been a bit strange. To start, I actually applied for the internship a whole year before I got the position. I heard about the internship in my PWR 215 class during my first semester in college (Fall 2018), and I thought that I might as well apply for the spring. The PWR faculty chose a more experienced student for the internship that semester, which I expected, and told me that I would probably be a good candidate in about a year. And almost exactly a year later, I was asked to take over the position for Spring 2020.

Going into the internship, I expected that my faculty advisors (Dr. Moore and Dr. Li) would give me tasks with lots of specifications so that I would only create content that reflected well on the PWR program. So, I was surprised by how much creative control I was allowed over my work. I read over an internship handbook that is still in progress, but for the most part, I was allowed to develop my own plan for posting content. I researched what had already been posted on the PWR accounts and contacted the previous intern for some tips, and then I put all my ideas into a big planning document.

The previous intern said that Instagram was the best platform for getting information out about the PWR program, so I focused mostly on updating that profile to reflect a positive image for the program. Most of my regular Instagram posts were posted to Facebook and Twitter as well, but I spent more time using Instagram’s interactive story features and sharing posts from related accounts to the @elonpwr story (mostly from the English Department and the Writing Center–those accounts also shared my posts on Facebook, which created more traction on that platform). I also updated the @elonpwr Instagram bio so that it would better encapsulate what the PWR program is about at a glance.

Besides working on updating the PWR program’s image on social media, I also wanted to ensure consistency in posting, which seemed to have been lacking for a while. So, I designed graphics that fit with two series scheduled across all three platforms every week: #MondayMotivation and #WeeklyWord (posted on Wednesday to maintain the alliteration). When major PWR events happened this semester, like Fall 2020 course registration and SURF Day, I created series of posts that showcased each course and each research presentation. I also made a list of other ideas for intermittent posts, like internship ads, interviews with PWR students and faculty, and photos from class visits and research conferences.

However, my ability to execute my ideas shifted dramatically when the COVID-19 pandemic moved classes online. Besides the general challenges of adjusting to working from home, several of my “great” ideas no longer worked. Getting interviews became extremely difficult, I couldn’t visit classes that weren’t meeting in person, and internships and conferences had been cancelled. Even the two major events required a new approach to promote. So, I posted about the internships that I could still find, started doing the aforementioned interactive Instagram stories more often, added video links to the SURF Day posts, and put the rest of the ideas in my back pocket for when campus reopens next semester and I return to the internship. That’s right, I’ll be back as the PWR Social Media Intern next semester, and I couldn’t be more excited!

Advice for Future Interns

Even though I’m continuing with the PWR Social Media Internship for another semester, I’ll eventually need to be replaced, and I’d give it a 10/10 recommendation for any PWR major or PWS minor. I think the biggest pieces of advice I would give are these:

  1. Ask for advice from your faculty mentors when you need it, but you’re more prepared to make and execute your own plan than you think you are.
  2. Be flexible! You may not have to deal with a pandemic changing everything the way I did, but some of your ideas still might not work. And that’s okay. Always have a plan, a backup plan, and an open mind.
  3. Work hard, but have fun. You’ll run into problems sometimes, but you can fix them or work around them and get back to letting your creativity flow.
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PWR Student Spotlight: Hayden McConnell

This week’s student spotlight features PWR senior Hayden McConnell! Hayden is from Mobile, Alabama and is minoring in Digital Art and Multimedia Authoring in addition to her PWR major. She was eager to share her many experiences with internships and research in PWR as she looked back on everything the program has taught her over the past four years.

How/why did you decide to major in PWR?

I didn’t start off in PWR–I actually started as a psych major. When I figured out that psychology wasn’t for me, I decided to pick up PWR because I’ve always loved writing and communication and knew the major would help me strengthen those existing skills and interests.

Which PWR class that you’ve taken has been your favorite and why?

Feminism in Rhetoric [PWR 313]. This class has only been offered once (and I hope they reinstate it!), but it was one of my favorite classes because we analyzed a topic that is not typically associated with rhetoric through a rhetorical lens. It made me think a lot about how versatile rhetoric is and how important strong rhetorical skills are when you are discussing topics that are so heavily prevalent in politics. 

Have you had a writing-related internship? If so, where was it, and what was your work there like?

I’ve actually had two previous internships and am currently working at my third. All of them incorporated writing in some aspect, but the one I’m doing now is one of the more exciting and challenging ones. I am working as a PR assistant at a large company (Market America) and am responsible for writing a variety of things such as press releases, product articles, interview articles and more. I’m so glad I have the experience and adaptability PWR gave me to be able to learn how to write in various styles because this internship requires a lot of that. 

Have you done writing-related research? If so, what was it about, and did you present it anywhere?

I’ve completed a semester of research with Dr. Paula Rosinski regarding the WEI Initiatives and their effectiveness, and I’m currently doing another semester of research with Paula again in which I am putting together guidelines and branding material for a PWR Online Journal. While my first semester of research was enlightening and helpful, I am excited about my current research because I feel like it’s giving me the opportunity to leave a footprint in the major and get what hopefully becomes a helpful asset started for them.

What is the most valuable thing you’ve learned from PWR?

Adaptability by far is the most valuable thing PWR has taught me. If you’re able to understand and execute rhetorical skills, it opens up a lot of opportunities because it provides you with the confidence that even if you don’t fully understand something…you have the skills to accomplish what you put your mind to. 

What is your favorite thing about the PWR program?

I enjoy the connection with my professors because I feel like they are all very approachable and more than willing to help you out. I think the PWR environment is great at stimulating creativity and always pushing you to work on your goals.

What do you think you want to do after you graduate from Elon?

I really don’t know where I’ll be right after Elon, but I’m not too worried about it at the same time because I know the past four years I’ve spent here shaped me into someone who is capable of challenging myself and going after what I want.

 

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PWR Student Spotlight: Emily Holland

Professional Writing & Rhetoric’s student spotlights are back with a new social media intern! My name is Emily Holland, and I’m a sophomore at Elon double majoring in PWR and Strategic Communications with a minor in Spanish. I have a lot of ideas in the works for social media and blog content for this semester, including these spotlights. So, I decided to answer the spotlight questions myself to start the spotlight series and allow readers to get to know me a little better.

How/why did you decide to major in PWR?

I applied to Elon knowing that I wanted to study something related to writing. I loved all things writing-related in high school, and my English teachers always gave me good feedback on my work. Despite my love for creative writing, I wanted to graduate with skills that would probably give me a better chance at a stable job. I liked the idea of being part of Elon’s amazing communications program and then studying English with a PWR concentration to supplement my training in writing, but when PWR was elevated to major status during my first year, I became even more excited about the opportunities I could have in that program of study.

Which PWR class that you’ve taken has been your favorite and why?

I took ENG 319: Writing Center Workshop as one of my PWR electives during my second semester at Elon, and I fell in love with working at the Writing Center and everything that goes along with consulting. I also enjoyed the class projects that allowed me to learn more about different genres of writing and strategies for revising.

Have you had a writing-related internship? If so, where was it, and what was your work there like?

This is my first internship–I’m running the blog, Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram accounts for the Professional Writing & Rhetoric major for the 2020 spring semester.

Have you done writing-related research? If so, what was it about, and did you present it anywhere?

I’m part of a team of three students and three professors who are researching how students’ writing experiences at Elon transfer to the workplace. We’re currently in the data analysis phase of the project, and I’m working on applications to present the results at conferences in the fall.

Do you have any other relevant experiences/interests that you’d like to mention?

I’ve had a personal blog for two and a half years and still post on it every week.

What is the most valuable thing you’ve learned from PWR?

I’ve learned that writing can come in a variety of forms, including multimedia pieces. The amount of genres of writing that exist keeps increasing with new technology, and the definition of writing isn’t just words on a page anymore.

What is your favorite thing about the PWR program?

I love that the professors all take the time to get to know students and reach out to them with opportunities that would be a good fit for that student. I also like the emphasis on research–I originally didn’t think that I would do undergraduate research because I wasn’t a science major, so the idea that I’m preparing to present at conferences and contribute to a published journal article is still kind of surreal but incredible.

What do you think you want to do after you graduate from Elon?

I’m not entirely sure yet (I’m only a sophomore!), but I think that I either want to work in public relations, technical writing, or editing/publishing. Maybe I’ll do creative writing on the side and someday publish a bestseller and quit my day job. If not, I’ll probably go back to school and eventually teach at a college so that I can train a new generation of writers.

 

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My Experience as the PWR Social Media Intern

by Carey Spence

How I Started

I first started working as the Professional Writing & Rhetoric major’s social media intern in September. In order to become acclimated to the role, my initial work included familiarizing myself with the website, CUPID blog, and the social media. Because Professional Writing and Rhetoric just recently became its own major separate from the English major, I needed to understand all that this switch entailed. After acclimating myself with the tone and overall brand the major embodies, I then needed to make a plan for the content I wanted to create and share. After meetings with Dr. Li and Dr. Pope-Ruark, as well as communicating with the previous intern, I had a plan in place to effectively communicate as the Professional Writing intern.

What I Did

My overarching plan for the Professional Writing and Rhetoric department’s social media was to focus on engagement. While there was already content on both the Twitter and Instagram accounts, engagement was not very high. However, after meeting with Dr. Pope-Ruark, we decided that the main focus should be on the Twitter account. With this in mind, my research for content was strategically informed. I wanted to share information that was useful to my audience, with the goal of getting more engagement on tweets — retweets, comments, and likes — and moreover, expanding the account’s reach.

One of the ways I focused on engagement with the Twitter account was by tweeting at different departments. The purpose of this was to establish relationships with these other departments so that they would retweet the content I was pushing. I emphasized the Professional Writing and Rhetoric program as a major that supplements other majors such as business majors and liberal arts majors.

In this regard, I also placed a lot of emphasis on the benefits of the program. Many Elon students have never even heard of Professional Writing and Rhetoric, and therefore don’t know much about the program. I tweeted articles about the importance of writing and communication skills and snippets from the website that promote this program as applicable to all career paths. Everyone needs to learn how to effectively communicate, so why not become an expert?

For the overarching theme of engagement, one of the ideas for content I had was to reach out to alumni in order to get testimonials for both Instagram and Twitter, as well as for the CUPID blog. While it’s nice for me to say that the Professional Writing and Rhetoric program is beneficial to any career, it means a lot more to hear it from people who are actually in the workforce, putting these skills to use. Including testimonials from alumni builds the program’s overall ethos.

My Advice

My main advice for future interns, both in this position specifically and for interns in general, is to come into any task with a specific plan. Coming up with content for the social media could have been a daunting task, but when I planned out how I wanted to approach the week, or even just that specific day, it was easier for me to think back on my goal (increasing engagement) and make decisions strategically.

Another piece of advice when it comes to social media specifically is to remember the social aspect. If I wanted other people and accounts to interact and engage with the content I was producing, I had to be willing to do that myself. Just liking photos on Instagram from other accounts went a long way in increasing engagement. I also found that retweeting other departments’ tweets made them more likely to retweet mine. In fact, just liking other accounts’ tweets led to an alumni sending me content that she thought my audience would want to see, making my job easier. Thinking strategically and building relationships are my two key pieces of advice when communicating.

 

Carey Spence is the 2018-2019 social media intern for Professional Writing & Rhetoric. Carey is double majoring in English Literature and Strategic Communications, with a minor in Professional Writing.

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How To Market Yourself: Resumes

Guest Blogger Rebecca Porter ’16

As previously discussed in the last CUPID blog post (link here) how you market yourself is important, especially when trying to tap into the professional world. Yet, there is more than one way to do this. After surveying PWR alumni, I have described the top answers I’ve received: well-written resumes, and portfolios such as personal blogs or websites. Other answers that were common were social media outlets, such as LinkedIn and Twitter, and spreadsheets.

Let’s begin with resumes. Resumes show future employers your skill sets and qualifications. Many reviewers do not spend a lot of time looking over resumes so it’s important to stand out but also customize your resume to the job you are applying for. Miranda Allan ’15 states, “I also start by highlighting my skills/projects in a separate column, which I plan to revise according to whatever job I’m applying for. I’m trying to abide by the ‘30 seconds or less’ rule of thumb.” Quickly glance over your resume; does your document match what the employer is looking for? The job application will specifically reference skills that they would like a future employee to have and it’s important that you add those into your resume. Ellen Fraser ’14 calls these “buzz words” and says, “I have a different resume for every single job I’ve ever applied to.” Hillary Dooley ’14 further adds onto this idea by stating, “The easier it is for the reader to make the connection between the experience on your resume and the job description, the better. An effective resume is well organized, tailored to the job, and includes a few visually appealing elements.” If you need help thinking of “buzz words” these are the common terms used to do so:

Screen Shot 2016-06-06 at 12.04.26 PM

For instance, here are two resumes from successful PWR alumni, Ellen Fraser ‘14 and Michael McFarland ‘12. At first it might be easy to notice the difference in colors and font, but also notice the difference in content.

Michael McFarland ResumeMichael explains his resume saying, “It is concise and highlights qualities that District Attorneys and criminal defense lawyers look for. My interest section is also very helpful in marketing myself. I used to be against having an interests section, is a good way of showing a more complete picture of myself. I have now had multiple interviews where people brought up my interests section and it seems like a good way to get a conversation started in an interview. The interests I selected help show my strengths as a lawyer as well.”

Ellen states, “it helps on your resume when you are listing your responsibilities to say what the purpose of your responsibility was…(i.e. held events in order to get attendees excited about your organization’s mission…)” to make sure you are setting yourself apart in the field that you are applying to.

Ellen Fraser Resume_Page_1

Ellen Fraser Resume_Page_2Therefore with resumes, context is everything.

Another important aspect to keep in mind is visual rhetoric. Generally alumni agreed to try to keep your resume at the length of one page but of course there are exceptions to the rule. But personal branding is important. The choices you make in font and color matter. Rhetorically ask yourself of the decisions you are making and the reasons why you are picking certain colors and laying out your information in a specific order. Remember peer feedback? Alumni continuously say that they still find value in peer editing because it is helpful to have another pair of eyes looking at a document.

Want to know how to create an effective website or blog? Read my next post to find out.

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An Intro to PWR Student Explores SURF

Guest Blogger Meara Waxman ’19

Color scheme, organization of text, and images: all of these aspects are important to consider when creating a rhetorically effective poster and presentation. As I milled around the different posters lining the Great Hall and Elon’s SURF Day (Student Undergraduate Research Forum), I started to notice that the most complicated posters did not always turn out to be the most rhetorically effective.

poster1First, I saw that the scientific presenters often filled their entire poster with words and complicated graphs. As shown in the image to the right, it was difficult to pull out the most important information. Even as my eyes were naturally drawn to the images in the top right-hand corner, I could not immediately tell what the image was supposed to depict. The issue was not that the information was too technical, just that there was too much information on the page. Since the presenter was also speaking about the topic, I felt that this poster, while informative, could have been more effective if it had used the text to highlight the main points instead of summarizing all of the research.

poster2I saw another poster that also had a lot of information condensed onto a small space, but this one worked a little better because of the systematic color scheme. In the image on the left, the author chose green to highlight the section titles, and she outlined the bottom in a transparent green to continue the theme. Since her presentation was on photosynthesis, the color choice was not only relevant, but it also served to emphasize the topic of the poster. This visual presentation did a really good job of incorporating the contrast and repetition elements of the C.R.A.P principles of graphic design because of the green color and the consistent section headers. However, this poster did have a scatterplot right in the middle of the page, which cluttered up the central focus point of the poster and distracted from the highlighted bullet points.

The final poster that I will bring into my discussion is a poster that addressed all of the C.R.A.P principles (contrast, repetition, alignment, and proximity). Compared to the other posters I discussed above, this poster (left) seemed rather simple. However, this simplicity actually enticed more audience members because it was not too overwhelming. The text and images aligned nicely and complimented each other well. Additionally, the format of the text was repeated throughout the poster, which kept the visuals consistent.

poster3The most rhetorically interesting part of the poster, however, required the viewer to pay careful attention. At first, I thought that this poster did not do a good job with repetition because the colors of the text were different for every section, and I did not understand the reasoning behind that decision. However, upon closer inspection, I realized that the colors of the text came from the different colors of the map about Senegalese migration. This rhetorical decision subtly highlighted the map and drew attention to the most important features of the image.

Overall, I was extremely impressed with the SURF presentations that I saw, and I am excited to hopefully become a presenter in the next few years. Seeing the posters today and noticing which elements made the posters rhetorically effective helped me understand the importance of making a poster visually appealing as well as academically engaging. Perhaps not everyone who looked at the posters realized that the rhetorical decisions of the presentation made the difference between what they considered “good” and “bad” posters, but those choices were still important underlying elements. In other words, the rhetorical language gave the posters the extra push they needed to be engaging, effective, and appealing.

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