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

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Photo sources: Unsplash | rawpixel & Jessica Lewis

How to Sound as Smart as You Are

By: Willow

Dear Blog Post Reader,

You are an incredibly smart and capable human being. You rock. You can do anything you set your mind to.

Keep calm and remember you are doing a great job.

Even though I know you’re super duper, sometimes it can be hard to make sure other people see that too, especially when they see you though a resume or application, so here are a few tips to help show everyone how wonderful you are.

Never say the word stuff.
Stuff doesn’t sound intelligent. There are so many other far better words that sound better; things, items, inventory, material, etc.

Don’t overuse the word like.
Leave the overuse of like in the, like, 90’s where it, like, belongs, like. Got it?

Use your resources.
There are a lot of good places you can go on campus to help you. Come to Career & Internship Services to make sure your resume highlights how smart you are, and to have a practice interview so you can articulate to employers how qualified you are. Go to the Writer’s Workshop at the Academic Writing & Learning Center and get help with your writing. Strong writing skills are essential to sounding your best. Have your friends or family read though things you write or look at projects you do, it always helps to get a second or third set of eyes on something to help catch mistakes you may have missed. You’re smart but you’re not perfect, you will make mistakes sometimes. Grammarly is a great resource to have installed on your computer and in your internet browser. It helps catch mistakes in email and other places you write.

If you’re going to use cliches or sayings, use them correctly.
People have differing opinions on cliches but personally, I love them if you use them correctly. I was recently having a conversation with a few people, during the approximately three minutes of conversation, one of the people used about five cliches, all incorrectly. It drove me crazy. She could have been telling me about the groundbreaking research she has been doing for years on cancer cells and all I would be able to think about is how she used old cliches incorrectly.

Sometimes it’s ok to not talk.
I struggle with this, I like to talk. But, sometimes it is better to listen, you might learn more and become even smarter.

You don’t have to use big words to sound intelligent.
Although it’s always fun to sprinkle in the occasional ubiquitously stupendous verb into the lexicon, there is no need to overdo it. Keep it simple. If you’re really set on using a big word, I recommend pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis, the longest word in the English language, go big or go home my friends. (Pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis is “a pneumoconiosis caused by inhalation of very fine silicate or quartz dust, according to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, so if you are going to use it, use it correctly!) But really, only using massive words doesn’t automatically make you sound awesome, and often can make you sound pretentious.

Remember these tips, and be your best self! Good luck out there folks!

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Tips on Grammar

By: Annie

Have you ever read some thing with bad grammar or misspelled words before? Maybe just a obvious mistake or to, nothing which makes the message unclear!

Notice anything wrong with the opening of this post?

Even the smallest of mistakes can be distracting to readers, and cause them to question the intelligence of the writer. When applying for jobs, your cover letter and resume give employers their first impression of you.  You never want to miss out on an opportunity because you did not proofread! Applying for jobs is just one example. Written communication skills are one of the most important skills you can develop to be successful. The National Association of Colleges and Employers consistently list them in the Top Skills and Qualities Employers Seek in Job Candidates, a list they publish annually.grammar

Tips:

  • Pay attention to your comma usage
  • Do you really need that semicolon? Short, simple sentences may work better.
  • Word choices to be aware of:
    • Who versus whomwho refers to the subject of a sentence, whom refers to the object of a sentence. Visit Grammar Girl for a quick tip to remember the difference.
    • Use versus Utilize – you utilize something if it is doing a job it is not intended to do (e.g., He utilized his lacrosse stick as an ice scraper).
    • Sentence structure:
      • No run-ons; be direct.
      • Avoid wordiness or using big words that make no sense for your purpose
      • When writing your resume, use action verbs followed by specific details of how and why you completed a task to give employers a complete idea.
      • Do not over use the same verb or adjective. Mix it up!
      • Spell-check, spell-check, spell-check!
      • Have a friend, teacher, tutor, Career Counselor, Peer Educator, or parent proofread any important document before you send it!

Additional resources:

Books:

Blogs:

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