Tag Archives: BSU

Elizabeth Palmer: You can only figure out what you want if you participate.

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Photo provided by Elizabeth Palmer.

She graduated from Ball State in 2014.

She majored in English Studies, with a minor in digital media.

She worked as one of the English Department’s PR Interns, producing content for this very blog.

Today, Elizabeth Palmer tells us how she used her skills as an English major to secure a position at Coldwell Banker, a real estate company.


1. What I Learned as an English Major

Courses like Editing and Style helped me balance my writing voice with concise, coherent arguments.

I owe a lot of my growth as a writer to Amit Baishya, who, unfortunately, is no longer teaching at Ball State.

Learning to communicate effectively allowed me to showcase my other skills, like design and multimedia storytelling.

Opportunities at Ball State, like the Digital Media minor, helped me utilize my skills in more engaging educational settings. 

My Virginia B. Ball Center seminar (Strengthening Opinions about Animal Responsibility) also gave me an opportunity to thrive in an entirely new learning environment. 

To learn more about the Virginia Ball Center, click here.

 

I knew I wasn’t destined to be an English teacher (even though so many people told me I should be), and branching out into Ball State’s immersive learning projects allowed me to prove that.


2. Finding a job is hard, but not impossible

The last two months before graduation, I spent all my time providing sample work, researching, and interviewing for a job I was so sure I was going to get.

When the time of the interview came, I spent over two hours in the office meeting employees. I even spoke with the HR director and interviewed with the marketing manager.

I left that interview confident I’d secured a future at the company. I was so sure I wasn’t going to be one of those college graduates scrambling to find a job after graduation.

I was wrong. Continue reading

Creative Writing Students Immerse Themselves in Cinema

The Cinema Entertainment Immersion, or CEI, is one of Ball State University’s fantastic immersive learning ventures. It combines students from the departments of English, Theater, and Telecommunications to produce professional-quality short films. As with all of BSU’s immersive learning projects, the main goal of the CEI is for the students to gain a unique and practical experience. The CEI allows students to perform the central roles of film production, with students from the English Department’s Advanced Screenwriting course writing the scripts, students from the Theater Department’s Acting for the Camera course auditioning for and acting in the major roles, and students from the Telecommunications Department directing and producing the films. Throughout the project, the students involved learn how each role in film production works together as part of a cohesive unit to create a quality finished product.

Here’s what screenwriting Professor Matt Mullins had to say about the English facet of CEI:

“I select the best short scripts from the Fall Semester of English 410 (Advanced Screenwriting), and sometimes a few from English 310, if there are strong screenwriters in my section of the intro course.  Overall, I usually end up choosing between 15 and 20 student scripts for consideration for the CEI. Then Dwandra Lampkin (Theater), Rod Smith (TCOM), and myself sit down and pick the top five or six.  Those six scripts are then cast with students from Dwandra’s course and put into production by Rod’s students over the Spring semester in the context of TCOM 487 (the CEI course).  The finished films are then showcased every April at the CEI Showcase in Pruis Hall.

I think that the quality of the films is steadily improving.  I’m specifically focusing Fall sections of 410 around the idea of what creates a compelling story and what is suitable for the CEI in terms of story type/genre (i.e., no epics or sci-fi or ‘high-concept’ scripts); setting (things we can realistically film with the facilities here at Ball State—which do include some use of green screen/CGI); and age of the characters (the principals need to be roughly college-aged so they can be cast from the theater class).”

Because they require a lot from the students who participate, these immersive learning programs can seem daunting at first.  However, because of the extra effort, students get more out of these educational experiences both personally and professionally.  Such programs provide students with unique learning opportunities, enabling them to realize abilities that will prove to be valuable to their careers both during and after college.

Guest Post: Debate! by Shawna Vertrees

Shawna Vertrees

So there we were, two English Education majors in the national tournament for the NEDA organization. Granted, we were in the novice round, which means our opponents had been debating for less then a year, but these were communications majors, political science majors, future lawyers and lobbyists. I imagined these students would be using glib tongues, in-class debates, and well-honed arguments the way we use thesis statements, essays, and critical research.

You might be wondering why we were even there. We are both enrolled in Comm. 220, and our teacher, Ms. Jenkins, gave us the option to forgo debating later in the semester for a weekend spent debating in this tournament. Considering that we would have to research and prepare for two more debates during the time of year when our most important papers would also be coming due, we opted to get this out of the way early and sacrificed our weekend to the NEDA tournament.

I had never debated academically before. I had done some impromptu speeches during high school, but that was ages ago. I am a non-traditional student and I’ve aged considerably since my high school career in the 90’s. The tournament lasted two days and we debated a total of nine times. In the end, we won first place in what is called “Novice Crossfire.” After the debate, as we were basking in the glow of our win, I mentioned how I thought English 230 was a class I was glad to be taking, as it required critical thinking and analysis that was easily applicable to the debate. It turns out that Kassie Markovich, my partner, was in another section of the same course and agreed that the skills we were learning in the class had given us an edge. In my estimation, the pressure to suss out what a critic is saying about a work and then apply this point as support for my essay’s thesis made me into a more articulate debater.

Another element of English 230 that I found extremely helpful is the idea of templates. I gather that these are not tools employed by every professor, however Dr. Collier has provided us with a book of templates to use as support for our essays in English 230. While they are by no means required, or even made the focus of a lesson, perusing and adapting them has made me a better writer. Because of this comfort with the adaptation and use of a literary template, I was able to understand advice from the debate coach, Ms. Jenkins, as templates for use in the debate. She advised that I begin each refutation of a point with, “Judge my opponents have said______.”  I cannot count how many times I would look the judge in the eye and say “Judge my opponents have said  _______ but the evidence says  ______.” Anyone who has had English 230 with Dr. Collier will recognize this as a variation on the formula for framing an argument with an opposing critical quote. I credit Dr. Collier’s templates and Ms. Jenkins advice for the other award I won at that tournament: I was the fifth best speaker out of 20 or so, despite the fact that I was unpolished and made numerous, blatant fumbles.

It was a great experience and I highly recommend both classes to students both in the English department, and in other disciplines. Seeing the application of critical thinking skills learned for writing in the realm of policy debating was really something. If you have a chance to do what Kassie and I did, I suggest you take it. And thanks again to the Ball State Debate Team for being so welcoming and helpful. Special thanks for Dr. Collier and Ms. Johnson for running some extremely useful classes. And of course, a great big huge thank you to my partner Kassie.

J.D. Mitchell’s Journey into the Peace Corps, Part II

Photo courtesy of Peace Corps.gov

“I leap over the moon.

And then, Heather tells me that my nominated assignment in Asia is still available, or, and she assures me this is rare, there is an English-teaching position available in East Africa that leaves at the end of May. She is leaving the decision to me: Asia or Africa?” – from “…Part I

*****

I leap over the moon a second time.

And then I say, “Africa sounds great.”

March 23, 2011: It’s mid-afternoon and I’m trying to convince myself to do some homework. There’s a succession of three hard knocks at the front door, the sound I’ve been waiting for. When I open the door, a large white envelope slumps against my foot and inside is a large blue folder, containing all of the information pertaining to my assignment. The first thing I see is a letter that begins, “Congratulations! It is with great pleasure that we invite you to begin training in Ethiopia for Peace Corps service.”

I didn’t decide to join the Peace Corps on a whim. There’s a lot to consider, especially the time commitment and the lack of modern amenities (running water, electricity, internet). There are vast cultural differences and a new language to contend with. For more than two years, I’ll wash my clothes in a river and my drinking water will come from a well, and it will need to be boiled. There’s new food. There’s not a Taco Bell. But, somehow, each of these challenges and obstacles is something I’m looking forward to. Ethiopia will offer a new way of life and I imagine my Peace Corps service will be an opportunity to learn as much as I have in the past four years.

On May 23, I will travel to Atlanta, where I’ll meet the other 70 volunteers who will be serving in Ethiopia. After two days of staging, where we’ll get to know each other, review pertinent information and receive a few more vaccinations, we will travel to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Through eight weeks of PST, I will receive training to become an English Language Teacher Trainer. In this role, my primary duties will be teaching in conjunction with my Ethiopian counterparts. I will collaborate with primary schools, colleges of teacher education, regional and state education bureaus, and education offices to produce creative methodology that will emphasize critical thinking and language mastery. Additionally, I will lead and partake in a significant amount of HIV/AIDS education and awareness programs throughout my community and region. I will also initiate a number of secondary projects to improve the conditions of my community. Through these experiences, I expect to broaden greatly my world perspective and not only leave my comfort zone, but annihilate it. After 17 years of organized education, I’m enthusiastic about the opportunity to apply what I’ve learned and to continue my education in a radical way.

For anyone interested in learning more about the Peace Corps, I offer this advice:

  • Educate yourself. Visit the Peace Corps website. It’s excellent and comprehensive. There’s information about what volunteers do, where they go, and what it’s like. They explicate the benefits of serving. Besides the obvious cultural and personal experiences, there are graduate school opportunities, transition funds, health insurance, and the potential for partial cancellation or deferment of student loans. There are videos, webinars and stories. Before you consider applying, you should know as much as possible.
  • Talk about your decision with friends and family members. They’ll be curious and will ask you questions, and you’ll see how much you actually know. Plus, it’s a big decision and it helps to talk about it.
  • Try to find someone who’s been in the Peace Corps. Ask about their experiences, the challenges, the rewards. First-hand accounts can be very helpful and informative.
  • Sit and think. Two years is a long time, especially in a developing country. Lay around and think about it. Make a list of the pros and cons. The application process takes between nine months and a year, so you have to apply well in advance of when you would expect to go.

If anyone is thinking about applying or has questions I may be able to answer regarding the application process, or anything else, please email me. The above information is only a fraction of what I’d like to say about the Peace Corps and if you want more details, don’t hesitate to contact me. My email address is jdmitchell@bsu.edu.

J.D. Mitchell’s Journey into the Peace Corps, Part I

JD Mitchell

I’m cautious about deleting emails without reading them first, especially emails with a teasing subject line like “Ready to change your life?” Because usually I am. Or, “How far are you willing to go?” Because running a marathon is on my bucket list. And, “Want to make a difference?” Because my embarrassing obsession with reality television isn’t accomplishing much. I first heard about the Peace Corps when I was a freshman; I had twenty minutes before Survivor started and I checked my email. The subject line got me. The email promised travel, experience, and adventure. The next week, I attended a presentation at the study abroad center, and throughout the next three years, the idea coagulated in my head. I thought about it. I read about it. I thought some more.

The Peace Corps was conceived by John F. Kennedy in 1960 and began sending volunteers to developing countries only a year later. The mission of the Peace Corps is three-fold:

  • Help the people of interested countries in meeting their need for trained men and women.
  • Help promote a better understanding of Americans on the part of the peoples served.
  • Help promote a better understanding of other peoples on the part of Americans.

To accomplish these objectives, American men and women apply to serve a 27 month commitment in a variety of fields, including: Education, Health, Environment, and Business and Information & Communication Technology. The first eight to twelve weeks of a volunteer’s commitment are Pre-Service Training (PST), which takes place in the volunteer’s country of service. The emphasis is the acquisition of language and the skills necessary to each volunteer’s assignment. After PST, each volunteer is relocated to their community, where they will begin their assignment and receive on-going education. The PST and assignment are rewarding but rigorous, and this is emphasized from the very beginning of the application process. Below is a timeline of my application from beginning to end, which spanned a little more than a year:

March 20, 2010: I begin my Peace Corps application.

June 29, 2010: I submit my Peace Corps application. The application, despite its thoroughness, can be completed much sooner, depending on the applicant’s schedule and time constraints.

July 7, 2010: The Chicago Regional Recruiting Office receives my application and sends additional materials to be completed: two fingerprint cards and the National Agency Check card that authorizes a background check.

August 18, 2010: I drive to Chicago for my interview. It goes well, and Betsy, my recruiter, tells me she will nominate me for service. A nomination is like saying, “Hey, we think you’d make a good volunteer so we’re moving you forward to the next phase.” A nomination doesn’t guarantee an invitation. A nomination is tentative but includes a region of service, job and departure date. Betsy tells me it could take up to two weeks to receive a nomination.

August 19, 2010: Betsy calls with a nomination. This. Is. Very exciting. Although I specified Africa as my primary region of interest, I am nominated for an English-teaching position in Asia (country unknown) that would leave in mid-June 2011. I happily accept my nomination, but my recruiter tells me a nomination is provisional and could change.

August 24, 2010: I receive my medical packet, which includes dental and (very thorough) physical forms. The medical phase is infamously regarded as the longest phase of the application process and it is the phase that often leads to disqualification. The Peace Corps requires such a thorough medical check because volunteers are placed in rural communities of developing countries, where medical supplies and provisions cannot be guaranteed for certain conditions. The Peace Corps makes each volunteer’s health a priority and wants to take as few risks as possible in that regard.

October 26, 2010: After eight weeks, I complete the medical forms. I make a copy of all of the forms, seal the originals in an envelope and take it to the post office, where I see it placed in the appropriate bin. I experience a sense of accomplishment never before felt by completing paperwork.

October 28, 2010: My medical information is received. Since the Peace Corps does not impose an application deadline, there are thousands of applicants at each stage of the process. Each volunteer’s medical kit is prioritized according to his nominated departure date and medical kits are not usually reviewed until four months prior to that departure date. Translation: the waiting game begins.

About a week later: I receive dental clearance.

February 25, 2011: I received a letter from Peace Corps Headquarters informing me that I am medically qualified for service and that my application has been forwarded to the Office of Placement. I change my Facebook status. I tweet. I call my mom.

March 11, 2011: A Placement Assistant sends me an email requesting an updated resume, among other materials.

March 18, 2011 – almost a year after I started the application: I have my final assessment interview via telephone. Heather, my Placement Officer, tells me the interview is intended to gauge each applicant’s mental and emotional maturity as well as receive any relevant updates. The interview lasts about half an hour and I think it goes well. At the end, Heather says, “Ok, JD. I’ll issue you your Peace Corps invitation this afternoon.”

I leap over the moon.

And then, Heather tells me that my nominated assignment in Asia is still available, or, and she assures me this is rare, there is an English-teaching position available in East Africa that leaves at the end of May. She is leaving the decision to me: Asia or Africa?

*****

This is the first of a two-part post series by J.D. Mitchell, which chronicles his application process and admission into the Peace Corps. If you, or anyone you know, is considering applying to the Peace Corps, I’d recommend reading this series. We would like to thank J.D. for his wonderful and informative piece.

Signed,

 

Jeremy Bauer

English Majors and the Job Market: You’re Okay

English majors get a bad rep when it comes to the job market. Frankly, we’re sick of it. A major goal of this blog is to show the versatility of the English degree. As our “Life After the English Major” section proves, we’re not just blowing smoke. One of the most important skills for any business is communication, and do you know what you’re studying in all of your literature and creative writing classes? Exactly.

According to the NY Times.com article, “Young Workers: U Nd 2 Improve Ur Writing Skills,” by Phyllis Korkki, “In a survey of 100 human resources executives…Nearly half the executives said that entry-level workers lacked writing skills, and 27 percent said that they were deficient in critical thinking.” The years of using dictionaries and thesauruses for unknown words can pay off, as well as studied attention to authors’ word choice and conveyance of mood. Much of today’s communication is done over email or similar text formats where mood can be lost, or most likely, misinterpreted. A person who keeps these lessons in mind can end accidentally passive aggressive messages and make for clearer communication, and few are better equipped for this accomplishment than English majors.

In her September 2009 post on Payscale.com, “Jobs for English Majors: They Do Exist,” Bridget Quigg shows that the numbers prove English majors can be competitive earners. Citing this graph of popular careers for English majors, Quigg presents some of the top positions for English majors:

Technical Writer                                        –      $68,900

Paralegal                                                       –     $53,100

Copywriter                                                   –     $49,900

Online Marketing Content Writer      –      $50,900

These are the median salaries after ten years. As Quigg notes, “They don’t top aerospace engineering majors, who come out number one overall at $108,000 a year,” but still, these aren’t exactly wages of destitution. In her article “Working Your Degree,” on CNN Money.com, Shelly K. Schwartz notes that regarding English majors, “The versatility of the degree, in fact, is what makes the post-graduation job hunt so hard.” This means English majors can fit to nearly any career field, and because the possibilities are so broad, it can be hard to zero in on a particular field, or realize the extent of these possibilities.

There may also be the need to sell yourself a little more to job interviewers. While they may know they need people with good communication skills, they may not know they can find this quality in an English major. This will require an explanation of your skills, which could benefit greatly from using buzzwords, such as your aptitudes concerning “critical thinking” or “dynamic (changeable) communication.” Selling yourself is something everyone has to do in job interviews anyway, so this shouldn’t put you off. Knowing the skills you bring to the table ahead of time can help put you a peg above other applicants, especially when said skills are unique and well-practiced.

In her article, Schwartz goes on to say, “…increasingly, insiders say, one of the fastest growing career choices for English majors is broadly defined as ‘business.’ The verbal and written communication skills that English majors possess remain in top demand at nearly every company in America.” Upon graduation, it’s commonplace for English majors to assume they’ve spent their college careers studying what they enjoy instead of cultivating specialized skills, and so they are left not knowing what directions they can take in terms of a career. The good news is that while you spent your studies doing what you love, you were also cultivating one of the most important skills to the job market: communication. More good news: proficiency with this skill means you can be an asset to any company, because even if an organization is filled with the world’s top tradesmen, people with skills not found anywhere else, the organization needs a good communication system to get the most out of these people—to work efficiently. In Schwartz’s article, Professor Ernest Suarez remarks, “Businesses tell us they like to hire English majors because they feel they can think. They’ve got the writing and analytical skills they need. The rest they can be trained to learn.” Don’t be afraid to mention this in job interviews, applications, or personal statements.

Signed,

Jeremy Bauer

Interview with Paul Killebrew, this year’s poet for the In Print Festival of First Books

Paul Killebrew

Our third and final excerpt from The Broken Plate’s In Print Festival interviews is with poet Paul Killebrew. Killebrew is the author of Flowers, published by Canarium Books in 2010. John Ashbery has written that Killebrew “plunges us into a world we inhabit but seldom notice, forcing its horror on us but also reminding us why we go on coping with it.” Born and raised in Tennessee, he now lives in Louisiana, where he works as a lawyer at Innocence Project New Orleans. Here is his interview excerpt:

How did you choose the title for Flowers?

The first draft of the manuscript included a lot of poems that I’d written for specific people, and Flowers seemed like a nice way of thinking about those poems. I ended up revising the manuscript quite a bit and took out most of the occasional and epistolary poems, but there were still a lot of poems that seemed to deal with immediate beauty,

so the title still fit. I also thought that the word “flowers” was due for something like this.

What have you been working on since Flowers?

Five or six years ago I told myself that I wanted to write good short poems, which for me would be anything under 25 lines. At that length my poems have tended to feel either truncated or of radically reduced scope, and then you read all these folks who do so much with so little, I mean this is poetry after all. So for the past year I’ve been trying to write shorter poems, though they’re all coming out to be like 25 to 30 lines, so maybe instead of short I should call the poems medium.

Medium poems—how’s that for an ambition?

Having some familiarity with the city, “Nashville” was cool to read, and I’m curious how your feelings about Nashville, as a native, come into your writing.

As an English major at a southern university I took the obligatory course in southern literature, which, though we read some fantastic stuff, was awful, partly because the professor took the position that contemporary southern writing, and at some level contemporary southern culture, was (or maybe should be) anti-technology and defiantly agrarian. Maybe or maybe not, but that was definitely not the Nashville countrypolitanism I grew up around. Nashville is a remarkable place that growing up in did nothing to make more comprehensible. There’s a complicated racial dynamic that loomed large in my childhood because I went to a virtually all-white private school that had been founded in the ‘70s specifically because the federal courts had recently enforced integration of the public schools through bussing. And then Nashville also has this hilarious campy side that’s both unpretentious and glitzy. The town is full of washed-up talent. It’s hard to know what to do with all that. In the poem “Nashville” I tried to make a record of words that struck me as indigenous to the Nashville I grew up in, as a kind of documentary.

*(Interviewed by Layne Ransom)

The In Print Festival of First Books starts tonight with a reading by the authors from their work. Tomorrow is day two of the festival, which features a panel where the authors, along with an editors from Artifice Magazine, will field questions relating to writing and publishing. Every year, the In Print Festival is a shining event greatly looked forward to, so we hope to see you there!

Interview with Debra Gwartney, this year’s nonfiction writer for the In Print Festival of First Books

Deborah Gwartney

Debra Gwartney is this year’s nonfiction author for the In Print Festival of First Books, and also the star of our second excerpted interview from The Broken Plate. She is the author of the memoir Live Through This, published by Houghton Mifflin in 2009, which was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. She is a former reporter for the Oregonian and worked as a correspondent for Newsweek for ten years. She teaches writing at Portland State University and is the mother of four daughters. Here is our excerpt of her interview:

What was your thought process on how to structure the book? I noticed the events were mostly chronological, but you use quite a few flashbacks. Why did you include flashbacks?

When I first began writing about this time in my family’s life, I found I could structure a fairly decent two- or three-thousand word piece. I wrote, and published, maybe six such stories and then I figured I’d just put those together and have at least a good hunk of a book. Um, no. That didn’t work in the least. I wasn’t after a book of essays—nor did the stories succeed as a book of essays—and yet the over-arching arc of a book-length memoir eluded me. After many failed attempts at discovering a structure, I finally one day sat down and wrote a list of the, say, ten integral scenes. Ten scenes onto which I’d hang the rest of the narrative. I didn’t worry that much about the chronology of those scenes (although of course I had to consider chronology eventually), because I was determined not to let the narrative get trapped in the plodding episodic, “and then this happened, and then that happened…” I was much more interested in the themes I was watching emerge organically from the text, and in glimpses of metaphor, which I tried not to over-think but let take shape as they wanted. Flashbacks would occur to me here and there as ways to deepen the meaning, to sharpen the symbolism, of certain sections. I felt the reader needed to know at least a little something about my younger self—my childhood, and my young adulthood—in order to relate to the woman who, as narrator, was ready to face her own responsibility in the conflagration of her family.

What’s the future in writing look like for you? What are you working on now?

I’m working on another memoir, even while I have to ask myself how one person could have enough life experience, really, to justify two books about herself. I’d like to think I do, and so on I go collecting pages of drafts and continuing to research, in order to discover that “over-arching arc.” I’d like to write about growing up in the west, a fifth-generation Idahoan, my relationship to my region and my people, as well as my conflicted desires regarding place and family: to both celebrate and cling to my heritage, and to run from it as fast as I can.

*(Interviewed by Phoebe Blake)

We would like to thank the editors of The Broken Plate for allowing us to excerpt these interviews. We can’t wait for the new issue to be released at this year’s In Print. Here’s a breakdown of the In Print info as a reminder:

Wednesday, March 23, AJ 175, 7:30pm: In Print Reading.
Debra Gwartney, Paul Killebrew, and Tina May Hall will read from their recently published books.

Thursday, March 24, AJ 175, 7:30pm: In Print Panel Discussion.
The authors will be joined by James Tadd Adcox, editor of Artifice Magazine, for a discussion about writing and publishing.

As a bonus for attending this year’s festival, all In Print attendees will receive a FREE copy of the 2011 issue of The Broken Plate! There will also be a book signing and reception immediately following each event. We have one more excerpt in the works from an interview with poet Paul Killebrew, so keep watching, BSU!

Guest Post: Tyler Gobble on the Ball State University-University of Alabama Creative Writing Student Exchange

Cover of the students' collaborative chapbook

Hey, remember when those sweet students and that nice-guy professor came from the University of Alabama a few weeks ago and wowed us with their words? Well, that was for the first ever Ball State University-University of Alabama Creative Writing Student Exchange. Now, we’ve gotta hold up our end of the deal.

I was lucky enough to have been selected by Creative Writing faculty, Sean Lovelace and Matt Mullins, to accompany them on the trip, along with Layne Ransom, Elysia Smith, and your English Department blogger Jeremy Bauer. At the end of this month, the very end to be exact (March 31st), we will be heading to Tuscaloosa, Alabama. The plan is to read at The Slash Pine Poetry Festival with those cool University of Alabama students and some other visiting students. Also, we will be able to see some awesome readers from both the University of Alabama and other visitors. (Side note: I’m most looking forward to seeing University of Alabama MFA student Brandi Wells and poet Oliver de la Paz.) In addition to the readings, during our three-day stay, we will be meeting with faculty and students of the university to learn about their programs, such as the planning of this festival and their awesome literary magazine the Black Warrior Review.

You might be surprised, but I’m so stoked about this trip. More importantly, I’m honored, realizing how unique and great of an opportunity this trip is for me as an undergraduate student. Additionally, the trip has created an opportunity to design and share chapbooks, broadsides, and videos of the readings. Recently, we started a Kickstarter project for this trip, to help cover the expense of traveling. As rewards for donating, we are offering the limited-edition chapbooks and broadsides, along with other cool things, to donors. Again, we have been honored by the feedback from this project already, and thrilled to see so many supporters with a little under a month still left.

I think there is something uniquely special about meeting writers (both students and otherwise) from other universities and communities. In my limited experience as a writer, I’ve grown immensely from knowing other writers and writing enthusiasts on the Internet. To take those interactions or make them in person will truly be a life-affecting opportunity. For me, this trip is more than a chance to visit another school, to read at a poetry festival, to produce some literary works, to spend close time with writing friends, and to share my work with so many people; rather, it’s the amazing chance to do all those things together in three days.

Can I speak for all four of us? Okay. Reading at the festival is the culmination of a creative project lasting several years: developing our craft of writing. The travel we will undertake will allow us to exhibit and share our work with a whole new audience through our readings, an audience we may otherwise never reach. Also, we are thrilled for such an opportunity, through fundraising and the trip, to share our growth as writers via the chapbook, broadsides, and videos.

The Washington Center

Photo courtesy of TWC.edu

I recently attended an information session on The Washington Center, organized by Dr. Barbara Stedman, Director of National and International Scholarships and Honors Fellow. I am grateful to Dr. Stedman for the chance to learn about TWC, and most importantly, to pass the information on to others who may benefit from TWC’s programs, which have the potential to be nothing short of life changing.

As TWC puts it, “Leaders are built from the inside out. They’re made, not born.” TWC is a nonprofit academic internship program based out of Washington, D.C. that offers internship programs, as well as academic courses and seminars. TWC mainly functions to connect college students with civic, governmental, and business leaders. They work with hundreds of colleges and universities, a considerable number of public and private host organizations (or internship sites), and over 40,000 alumni.

Here is the list of TWC’s main internship programs:

  • Advocacy, Service, and Arts
  • Business and Management
  • Cordova/Fernos Congressional Internship
  • Ford Motor Company Global Scholars
  • Global Trade and Regional
  • International Affairs
  • Law and Criminal Justice
  • Media and Communication
  • Political Leadership
  • Science, Technology and Society

Because they are located in Washington, D.C., TWC has contacts in nearly every U.S. government organization in the area, as well as contacts beyond the governmental realm. One program I believe could yield experiences particularly useful to English majors is their Media and Communication Program, which includes the fields of communication, print and broadcast journalism, public relations, advertising, and social media.

Social media, in particular, is a field businesses and organizations are especially looking for people to handle. It has become public knowledge that social media can be a great source for advertising, and is gaining more interest every day. Many business owners do not know much about managing social media, but have been paying attention to such trends. Since younger people tend to have more of a beat on this arena, this is who these business owners are going to in order to get a leg up when it comes to their reach, and activity, on the internet.

Here is a short sample list of organizations TWC connects interns with:

  • White House Office of Media Affairs
  • National Public Radio
  • CNN
  • Peace Corps
  • Bread for the World Institute
  • The Smithsonian Institution
  • U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
  • U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs
  • Center for Public Integrity
  • CBS News
  • Women for Women International
  • Fair Trade Federation

Internships are a great way to not only prepare for careers in the real world, but also help to learn how to effectively apply for jobs. If you pursue and internship with TWC, you will be required to create a portfolio, including the following elements:

  • Résumé and cover letter
  • Individual development plan
  • Internship defense letter
  • Analyses of selected lectures
  • Civic engagement project reflection
  • Informational interview and other writing or work assignments specific to your program

As I believe we have shown with our “Life After the English Major” posts, ALL career tracks are in need of good writers, or effective communicators, and so each internship is a viable opportunity for an English major. The great reward of internships is the firsthand work experience it provides, something 45% of employers look for when hiring. I think the worth of the internships TWC offers is made obvious by the list of organizations it works with. For more information on TWC, feel free to visit their website here, or email them at info@twc.edu. A brochure will be available in RB 295 as well. We will always strive to connect students with opportunities such as those TWC provides, so keep watching, BSU!

Signed,

Jeremy Bauer