For this report, you will explore professional writing from a few vantage points. You will research what professional writing means (for instance, by interviewing working professionals and faculty) in your internship and career. You will also, most importantly, research what professional writers do, what they produce, and what tools they use to do their jobs. Once you have done your research, your report must have a core focus. Having done the research, you should be able to say that “professional writing is…” or “professional writers are…” and then support that claim with quotes, examples, details, and description. Feel free to sub out “professional writers” for the position title you have at your internship i.e. “social media coordinators are X,” or “science communication is X,” would be a good way to start the the memo.
Please note: 50 points of this assignment are gained from turning in a complete first draft for peer review.
Make sure to check out “How to write a memo” before you start.
Some ideas for getting started include:
interviewing working professionals: Ask folks who do your job with you at your internship, what do professional writers do and what kinds of writing or writing communities do they work with? Start with the questions in the Employee evaluation of career success Interview Questionnaire during your research but don’t limit yourself to those questions. Use them as jumping off points to get the conversation going. You might consider conducting some face-to-face, email, or IM interviews to gather materials, ask questions about documents produced, and find out what tools they use. What events? What practices? What domains? What does their day to day life look like?
reviewing professional organizations: Check out what professional organizations exist for your position and what resources they have. You don’t have to join, but it is always a good idea to know what your options are. For example, UXPA (https://uxpa.org/) is a great place to learn about user experience jobs.
reading about professional writers: The Bureau of Labor Statistics is an excellent resource for finding out about careers with individualized sections such as “Authors, Writers, and Editors“ or “Technical Writers.“ Additionally, finding some “day in the life…” pieces can be a good place to start to understand how your career works. you can also consult with trade magazines read by working professional writers. Many folks create content like Matthew Magain’s “A Life of a UX designer.” Try and find similar content for your career memo.
The steps above will lead you to identifying and analyzing the different types of documents professional writers produce, and should reveal some of the tools they put to use in generating those documents. We’ll talk more about each of the items in the list above and generate some material together in class.
Writing the Report
Getting a sense of the genre of informational reports is important, so that you best know how to structure the report, integrate the components of the report, and sculpt the language you use in the report. Your report should look like and read like a report (not an essay).
Suggested report sections and questions for you to contemplate as you work include:
|SECTION||QUESTIONS YOU MIGHT CONSIDER ADDRESSING|
|Overview/Summary||What is the overall purpose of this report? What are you doing, arguing, saying, suggesting, demonstrating, etc., in the report? Can you summarize the entire report in one paragraph (or 150 words, max)?|
|Introduction||Provide some background and rationale for your focus: What is your focus? How does it related to your field or profession? What do readers need to know to understand your report? What is the historical and/or cultural context for your focus? Why is your focus important or compelling, and worthy of attention?|
|Analysis and Results||What findings do you have to present? What quotations or summaries do you have to support your findings? What examples do you have to support your findings?|
|Conclusions||What conclusions can you draw about the work you’ve researched? The examples you’ve integrated? What are the implications of what you found for you and your career? What are the implications for the members of your field?|
|References||Include the full citations for the work you’ve summarized and analyzed, quoted from or otherwise referenced in your report. Placing them in footnotes is fine.|
Note that these are just suggestions; you may find it helpful, useful, and/or interesting to include different sections in your report, or to structure your report contents differently.
- Career Report Contact (opens in new window)
- Report (document): make sure to check out “How to write a memo” and “Technical Reports & Report Abstracts” before you start.