Monday, September 17, 2012

Writing in the "Real World"

...and no, I don't mean the Matchbox 20 song, for all you 90s folks out there...

By: Morgan Keschl

As a writing consultant, I spend numerous hours each semester helping others become better writers, while also balancing the task of writing my own papers. I’ve maintained this consultant-student balance for over two years now; however, as a wary upcoming senior, I was looking for a fresh experience and a taste of the real world; whether this taste would be sweet or sour kept me up at night.

Let me tell you –my full-time, summer internship with a Fortune 500 company has changed my view of the “real world” for the better…and yes, the “real world” actively seeks proficient writers.
Call me cynical, but college students often ask themselves if what they are learning in their undergrad career will be useful in this obscure “real world.” I have found that taking my writing seriously in college, whether writing about media images (my forte) or the toxicity of hexavalent chromium, has certainly led me to be more confident about my future. This is how:

My first day on the job involved me drafting a letter that the company would send out within the week, and no sooner did I finish this letter, I was given a batch of new ones to review. Part of my summer position involved editing the company’s 100 most popular letters that it sends to its customers and making them friendlier and easier to understand. While a daunting task at first, it became an experience I enjoyed as I tried to relate to the customer and be as clear and thoughtful as possible –after all, the company’s letterhead was always at the top. Coming from a working class family myself, I could empathize with the recipients of the urgent collection letters.

But, my writing spree did not stop there. Not only did I edit letters that were actually being mailed to customers by the end of my internship, but I also wrote my own audit summaries as well as communicated important changes to the supervisors and customer service representatives. By default, I also wrote several emails as the weeks passed, since writing in these organizations not only requires email, but also professional communication. We all know that email is inescapable and inevitable, even as college students, making writing skills even more important.

My writing-intensive internship showed me that good writing is necessary beyond the courses we take in college. On my first day and in subsequent days, I was expected to write, and I imagine many business-oriented careers to be no different. Whether writing an email or an audit summary, these organizations seek employees who know how to communicate, and most effectively in writing. 

Whether you become a scientist or a screenwriter, reasons to write eloquently and professionally will be required at some point.  From this “real world” experience, I have become more confident in my writing abilities, while also appreciating the papers I had to write in college that got me to this point. 

I hope that you, as a reader, will also realize the importance of writing and communication in the “real world,” since it is on the horizon for each student in every discipline.

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