What to do with a Writing Studies Degree?

By: Rachel (a Writing Studies major!)

What does the Writing Studies program entail? 
Within CLA, UMD offers a Bachelor of Arts in Writing Studies. There is also an option to minor in this program, which is called Professional Writing. While these titles are pretty self-explanatory, you might be wondering what the program actually entails.

To start, every Writing Studies student is required to take four core classes. Aside from this, you must take an Advanced Writing class and capstone course to be completed during your last semester. Other than that, you take 15 credits of writing electives and 6 credits in communication, English, management information systems, journalism, linguistics, or theater. This allows you to customize your education to your interests and career goals. Some of the electives I’ve taken so far incorporate aspects of graphic design as well as web design and software skills which are highly attractive in today’s job market. I’ve also taken more traditional literature classes that prioritize reading and analyzing writers’ works.

Looking down on a pencils in a pencil cup on desk. Text: What to do with a writing studies degree?

How can I use a Writing Studies degree?
You might be surprised by how many careers involve a level of writing. Reports, formal memos, or casual emails all require some writing ability. To even land a job, it is likely you will have to compose a resume and cover letter. While all jobs incorporate some writing, there are certainly some that center around it more than others. Here are some writing-related jobs in different categories (in no particular order):

Creative Writing
You can certainly head a creative route and work as a novelist, video game writer, or screenwriter.

Journalism
Journalism is another field within writing, with subcategories such as photojournalism and sports journalism. TV stations also hire writers for producing and writing content.  

Law
At the entry level, you can work as an administrative assistant in a law firm. Since the field involves such a high level of writing, a background of study in business and writing is a smart way to set yourself up for law school.

Freelance
Working as a freelance writer can be a great option! There are several websites to advertise your skills and help you connect with clients. A similar but somewhat controversial field is ghostwriting. As a ghostwriter, you would develop content for a client, but you don’t get any of the credit for your work. The pay can vary widely, and ghostwriters have been used by songwriters, politicians, celebrities, and novelists.

Colored pens on open notebook. Text - Career Ideas for Writing Studies: creative writing, journalism, law, freelance, business, editing, publishing, copy editing, technical writing, and more.

Business
Within a wide scope of businesses, there are a variety of roles that would be strengthened by a background in writing. Some examples include communications specialist, marketing associate, public relations specialist, content strategist, or social media manager. Some organizations also hire proposal or grant writers.

Common Roles Across Industries
Other typical jobs for writers include editors, publishers, and copy editors or proofreaders. You can find these positions in a variety of organizations. If you can speak and write in more than one language, there are countless fields that utilize translators.

Unique Roles
While we’ve addressed some common areas writers work in, there are countless obscure roles you probably don’t know exist. Think of everything you read; someone is responsible for writing that! The backs of cereal boxes, birthday cards, the fine print at the bottom of those ads for medicine on tv. . .it’s all written by someone. Technical writers are often tasked with writing documents like manuals. In certain fields, such as engineering, demand for these positions can be quite high, but they typically require knowledge in your field as well as writing expertise. Another interesting position is speechwriting. Some celebrities, politicians, and executives actually hire writers to come up with their speeches.

Hopefully this opens your eyes to the many directions Writing Studies can take you! If you enjoy writing to any degree, I would encourage you to think outside of the box and combine that with your other interests to see how you can find success in your career.

Of Possible Interest: 
• What recent UMD grads are doing: Writing Studies, English, Journalism
Choosing a Major – all our blog posts on the topic
Turn Your Major into a Career – our Pinterest board filled with articles & resources

Best of luck!
Rachel

Read Rachel’s other posts

Photo sources: Unsplash | rawpixel & Jessica Lewis

Career Planning Process: Explore Options

By: Paying

There are so many paths you could take during your career planning process: assessing yourself, exploring options, developing skills, marketing yourself, and managing your career. Not one person is the same and it doesn’t matter which order you choose to do these in. In this blog post, I’ll be writing about and giving advice based on my experience and the path I’ve been going about!

Career Planning model in a circle the text reads (starting on top and moving to the right): Assess Self, Explore Options, Develop Skills, Market Yourself, Manage Career

In one of my previous post, I shared my experience with an assessment offered by the Career and Internship Services office, this is where I first started my career planning process: assessing myself. After that experience, I started to question if my major and minor were ‘good enough’ to get me to my career goal: an editor. From this point on, I went to the next step in my career planning process: exploring my options. There are so many places one can choose to explore that it might seem overwhelming, and even scary, but it can be as easy as asking a friend for advice.

Since registration for Spring Semester was approaching, I first looked into the possibility of double majoring and/or minoring. I asked for advice from co-workers, both students and full-time staff, as well as family and friends. From there, some of my friends had recommended I speak with their friends who then advised me to speak with some professors at UMD who are knowledgeable in my field of interest. Turns out I was already taking a course taught by one of the recommended professors! She assured me that the path I’m going down is fine and was actually similar to hers. With assurance from my professor, I went on to speak with a friend who was majoring in Journalism, a field I thought about double majoring in. After our conversation, I crossed that option off my list because it wasn’t the right path for me to go into for editing however, she recommended I speak with both her significant other who was a Professional Writing minor and her close friend who actually works as a managing editor for the student-run news organization on campus, The Bark.

Lighthouse with light beam at night. Text: Career planning process: explore options.

Weeks of talking with many different people with different backgrounds led me to finally choose to add on another minor: professional writing! Now that I settled confidently with my educational path, it was time to explore more options to give me experience related to editing. I got in contact with two student employees from The Bark and was given a publishing opportunity! About a week after speaking of the opportunity, I was going to get one of my written pieced published on their website but first I went in to discuss the edits I would have to make. When I went into their office, I found out one of their workers was actually a person I sat next to in class. After the meeting, I was referred to a job posting by The Bark to apply as an editor!

Within 2-3 weeks of exploring my options while going through my career planning process, I added on a new minor, I have a piece published, and I am connected to new people who are experienced in a field I want to have a career in! Exploring options may be something as small as reaching out to a friend and it could lead you to something as big as a job offering or an internship! No matter what you choose to do, all it takes is one step and from there, you’re already closer to your career goal.

Of Possible Interest: 
Double Majoring: Pros and Cons
Career Planning for Humanities Majors
Career Planning – all our blog posts on the topic
Boost Your Career in College – our Pinterest board filled with articles & resources

Read Paying’s other posts

Photo Sources: UMD Careers; Unsplash|Evgeni Tcherkasski

How I Figured Out What I Want to be When I Grow Up

By: Eva

Before college, I knew that I wanted to be a therapist. From middle school until junior year of high school this was my dream profession until I began to worry I wouldn’t make enough money. At that time, 16-year-old Eva didn’t understand that success is measured in thousands of ways and depends on who is holding up the ruler. When I started college through PSEO (Postsecondary Enrollment Options) a couple months later, I enrolled in pre-business classes, but one economics course steered the fate of that short-lived decision. In the following years, I would scramble to find the perfect career that would make me rich, successful, and better than “normal.” I felt a lot of pressure to perform and compete against other students for scholarships, grades, and recognition. This mindset might have been the perfect environment for some people to thrive, but for me, it meant that my goals were made with skewed parameters that required unsustainable levels of energy. I think a lot of people have felt the way I did my first few semesters of college.

Before I go on, I have to acknowledge something super relevant to my experience. I am a young white woman from a middle-class family. I think many people in college, whether first-generation or legacy, white or POC, able-bodied or disabled, can feel pressure from their families and communities. My particular brand of pressure is inseparable from ableism and white privilege.

After my brief stint as a business major during PSEO I switched to nursing. I got my CNA license, enrolled in pre-nursing classes at LSC (Lake Superior College), and was given my first pair of super-cute teal scrubs as a high school graduation present. I loved that as a nurse I could help people in such a direct way. However, after three years of caring for elderly people as an aide, caregiver trauma started to seriously impact my mental health. That realization was incredibly difficult but necessary because it helped me understand my limits.

succulent with grey pot; Text: How I figured out what I want to be when I grow up

I explored my options: I was always told that I wrote well, but I was repelled from an English or Writing degree because of the (untrue) stereotype that graduates with liberal arts degrees are unsuccessful. I tried for several months to transfer to UMD for a biology degree but the core science classes at LSC only counted as electives at UMD. I couldn’t afford another five semesters of college and that fact allowed me to ignore that I was still headed in the wrong career direction. Another area I had done well in was laboratory procedures, which sounded like an acceptable route. I signed up for Medical Lab Technician classes at LSC. There were parts of the classes I really liked, such as drawing blood, looking through microscopes, and learning about pathology. Overall, I felt overwhelmed and disappointed with my choice.

By this point I started to realize that I had been shoving myself into a box I didn’t fit in. I had been trying to make my idea-centered brain work with numbers and logic. Not only was this wasting my strengths, but because of the low enrollment cap on the program I might have prevented someone else from succeeding.

When I looked back I realized that whenever I’d talk about being a nurse or lab tech I felt like I was talking about someone else. All of the prerequisites and checklists felt like I was a hamster in a wheel and not someone about to begin the rest of their adult life. Back to the drawing board. My favorite classes had been sociology and anthropology and many of my role models had similar degrees. After a lot of Google research, I decided that anthropology would be a great place to start. After three and a half years of college, I finally figured out my priorities – and was proud of them.

But wait! There’s one more twist to this story. My first full-time semester at UMD I began working as a Peer Educator at Career and Internship Services. I remember talking with the counselors about all the careers I thought I might like, but after years of chasing the wrong degree I knew I still did not feel right. Part of the student employee training involved personality and strengths assessments, all of which hinted (shouted) that I should consider counseling. I liked the sound of it, especially because it allowed me to help people hands-on, but caregiver trauma is a relevant issue for counselors I couldn’t ignore. Then I had a “could have had a V8” moment when the thought occurred to me that I should look into career counseling.

I could help people, have a useful career that took advantage of my strengths, work in a position that aligns with my values, and have a reliable income. I felt like a massive weight was lifted off my shoulders, almost literally. The pieces clicked together with an ease I had never experienced before. I know that I might change my mind in the future. At least for now I have a plan, which is more important than the plan actually happening.

Of Possible Interest:
Career Planning – all our blog posts on the topic
Turn Your Major Into a Career – our Pinterest board filled with articles & resources

Read Eva’s other posts 

Photo Source: Unsplash | Scott Webb

Start on the Right Foot

The school year has started! Woo! We’ve put together a mini to-do list for career-related items that ought to be completed by the end of the September (or earlier). Here’s a full breakdown of career-related items you can be working on during each year of your college career.

Start the school year off right

Freshmen:

  • Come find us! We’re located in Solon Campus Center 22 (aka: The Wedge). You can also find us online at any, and all, of these locations: websiteFacebookTwitter, InstagramLinkedIn, and Pinterest. I’d list our blog, too, but if you’re reading this, you’ve already found our blog. Kudos to you!
  • Get involved on-campus – in something. This could be a student organization, your residence hall, working on-campus, and much more.
  • Start your resume…even if it just has your HS involvement, the fact that you’re now a UMD student, and any jobs you may have had up until now.

Sophomores:

  • Research careers related to your major. Check out the Follow-up of Majors, from our Graduate Follow-up Report, to see where recent UMD grads have landed jobs right out of college (with YOUR major!).
  • If you haven’t decided or declared your major yet, you can take one of our career assessments (Strong Interest Inventory, Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, and CliftonStrengths for Students).
  • Get involved in something on-campus. Build your resume so you’re ready for whatever opportunities may come your way in future years. If you’re already involved in something, see how you can increase your involvement. This could be a leadership role, more responsibility, etc.

Juniors:

  • Update and polish your resume.
  • Prep for upcoming job & internship fairs (E-Fest for Engineering, Computer Science, & Science is Sept 12, Head of the Lakes Job & Internship Fair is Oct 4, and the Government & Non-Profit Career Fair is Oct 19).
  • Consider possible internship sites.

Seniors:

Photo by rawpixel.com on Unsplash

Checklist for Relocating

By: Ellen (Career Counselor, Guest Blogger)

In December, I was talking with a student (now UMD graduate) about their impending relocation to the southern part of the U.S. for their job. They were looking for tips on how to make the transition happen smoothly. I thought it would be helpful to share these tips with all of you. Most of these tips I have learned first hand because I’ve relocated twice (once for grad school and again for my current job).

Checklist for relocating

Find somewhere to live. Your new company may have information on where to start looking for housing in your new city. Your new city’s Chamber of Commerce website will probably also have relocation information.

Save up your money. Relocating is expensive, so take the time to save up some money before your move.

Find Healthcare. Where is the nearest hospital or clinic in town? I’m a child of a mother who works in healthcare…so it’s always on my radar.

Grocery Store. You need to eat. When I moved to Duluth, I found a grocery store a few blocks away from where I live. As time has moved on, I’ve explored more grocery stores and found my favorite ones.

Update your driver’s license. This could be as simple as an address change. I learned in my last move I had to take my written driver’s exam again because I was filing for a license in a new state. New plates for your vehicle if you’re moving to a new state. You usually have to do this relatively soon after permanently relocating. In Minnesota, you have 60 days.

Find your public transit. Figure out if this is an option for you to get around your new city.

Change your address in all the places. Start with the US Postal Service so all your mail will be rerouted until you get all the updates in place.

Figure out what you use and do on a regular basis and find the equivalent in your new city. This could include: coffee shop, farmer’s market, library, place of worship, gym, bank, parks, trails, and more.

Meet people. This could happen through your work, and/or you may have to step out on your own to meet people. MeetUp is a site that helps you connect with all different kinds of groups in your area. You could also look for things like cooking classes at a local kitchen store (or something similar in your areas of interest).

Explore your neighborhood and new city. Your new city should have a Visitor’s Bureau to help you get started. Sometimes, just walking around can help you learn your new city. You can also ask your new co-workers for recommendations of things to see, do, eat, etc.

Ultimately, relocating is both overwhelming and an exciting adventure. I hope these tips help to make the transition smoother.

Of Possible Interest:

Photo source: Unsplash|Hide Obara

APIA Leadership: Beyond the Boat

By: David

The notion of leadership is one that is highly valued among many individuals. In addition, race and diversity is a topic that is consistently prevalent in our society. When blending the two, the two elements complement one another quite well. Recently in life, there has been many events relating to  the two topics. Within this past month, I have had to plan for Asian Pacific American Association’s (APAA) Annual Culture Show, partake in various student of color panels, and discuss about cross-cultural communication. In addition, the recent events at the University of Missouri and Paris has definitely impacted me as an individual by urging me to reevaluate myself as an Asian Pacific American leader.  Today’s blog post zooms in on the two notions of leadership and culture, Asian Pacific Islander Leadership: Beyond the Boat.

Bamboo Ceiling

Before starting, I want to take some time to talk about the “bamboo ceiling” phenomenon. The term “bamboo ceiling” derives from Jane Hyun’s book Breaking the Bamboo Ceiling: Career Strategies for Asians. To sum it up, the term refers to the barriers and limitations to Asian Pacific Americans to rise to leadership roles it. In regards to the historical context, before the modern days in Asia many people would built their homes out of straws, mud, and bamboo. Figuratively speaking, the “bamboo ceiling” is what limits Asian Pacific Americans in career success. Once the rooftop is sealed, an individual can only achieve so much, and therefore it often restricts one’s ability to reach their full potential.  

Beyond the Boat

As part of the title, I decided to include the phrase “Beyond the Boat.” Though there are numerous interpretations to this phrase, this is one concrete way of defining it:
“The concept of ‘Beyond the Boat’ was taken from the phrase, ‘Fresh off the Boat.’  The term ‘FOB’ often limits immigrants and Asian Americans, a way of making generalizations.  ‘Beyond the Boat’ was used to seek out the ways APIs were complex and rich in history, especially through activism, solidarity, and social change.” – Verna Wong

The term “fresh off the boat” is an older term for immigrants who are new to the United States who are freshly arriving off the boat (this was before air travel was a possibility). Altogether, we have the phrase, “fresh off the boat.” One thing to be aware of is that with race and culture there also comes many generalizations and stereotyping. The phrase “Beyond the Boat” is a way for individuals or a culture group to break these stereotypes and generalizations to overcome such judgements and expectations.

Relating back to the topic of leadership, the image of Asian Pacific Americans in leadership roles is one that is barely visible. According to LEAP (Leadership Education for Asian Pacifics), “less than 3% of the leadership of the nation’s top for-profit and non-profit groups are Asian Pacific Americans.”  With such a low percentage of role models, it’s difficult as an Asian Pacific American student to see a future past the “bamboo ceiling.” As an Asian American in today’s society, there is a lot of  concern as to what leadership opportunities are available for myself and others in the future. To go “beyond the boat” requires me to constantly step outside my comfort zone and always having to put in the extra effort to be acknowledged. Furthermore, this phrase inspires me to break the stereotypes and generalizations revolving around Asian Pacific Americans and also to increase the 3% of APIAs in leadership roles.

Conclusion

To conclude, the duty of being a leader is never an easy task to do. From any standpoint, there will always be some form of systematic oppression despite circumstances. As a student leader for APAA, I find it most difficult promoting such events and activities relating to the Asian Pacific culture and showing the common interest for those who may not identify with the culture itself. Furthermore, I find it difficult to motivate my fellow peers to embrace the trait of being a leader to increase the 3% due to the lack of APIA role models in society. As many millennials begin to enter leadership roles after college, it will be interesting to see how the percentage of leaders with a different ethnic background evolve throughout the years.

Of Possible Interest: 

Read David’s other posts

I Have No Idea What I’m Doing, but I Know I’m Doing it Really, Really Well

By: Cassie

I will be the first to admit I don’t really have it all together. Don’t get me wrong there are occasional moments when I feel like I might pull it together, and yet another curveball is thrown at me. Life as a college student is stressful, and I’ve accepted that it’s okay to feel like your world is falling apart. We all have exams, papers, and hours of homework and reading to do (pro tip: yes, when a professor assigns readings you are actually supposed to do them). On top of all of that we balance social lives, jobs, internships, clubs, sports, and let’s not forget to add in time to eat and sleep. But fear not, because I am here to tell you that it is okay to not be okay all the time.

Sometimes, doing things the hard way is the best way to do them. That’s not saying it doesn’t stink when you make a mistake, because it really does, but sometimes learning lessons the hard way might be the most effective way to get them across. As an example, say you stayed in bed all day and watched a whole season of your favorite show on Netflix instead of studying for your midterm. You probably didn’t do so well on the exam and you now know that in order to succeed you have to be willing to put in the work. It’s okay that those mistakes happen now because then you’ll know you can’t do that when you get out into the real world. Believe it or not, when we get out into the real world our lives will get even more chaotic. The more lessons we learn now, the more we will be prepared for our future.

The future is scary and you might not know what your future will hold. The thing you have to remember is that you don’t always have to know exactly what you’re doing. Now is the time to try new things, get involved, and find out what you really like to do. It is better to find out you don’t like something now, rather than later. If you have any questions about careers, absolutely come see our counselors at Career and Internship Services. They can help you take the first steps to find where you want to go, or get you going towards your goals. They can also help you talk through any issues you might have or that may come up in the process. Taking the first step is the best thing you can do to figure out what you want to do. I know that talking about the future is scary and that it might just scare you away if you are already dealing with all of the other stuff in your life, but I can’t emphasize enough about having a plan for yourself. You don’t have to follow the plan exactly, but having some sort of structure will help you navigate whatever comes your way.

We might not always know what we want, what we need, or how to get where we’re going. That doesn’t mean you are a mess. There are so many people who are willing to help you and so many lessons you can learn in the process. Yeah, growing up is scary, but if you want to get the most out of your college experience I think that it is important that I emphasize how okay it is to not be okay. You can be a mess and still have it together. Even if you don’t have it all together just remember that even if you don’t know what you’re doing, make sure that you are doing it really, really well.

Of Possible Interest: 

Read Cassie’s other posts