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Beyond the Classroom: Professional Development and Campus Resources

By Elaina Smith

Throughout our college experience, we are often reminded of the important roles that networking, gaining experience, and building a portfolio play in our journeys to finding a career. Employers tend to favor candidates who have the most experience in the field and are prepared to enter the professional world. While this may seem intimidating, there are many resources your university can offer to help professional writers build connections and expand their resume. 

Campus Publications 

While many schools have clubs centered around creative writing, there are many great student organization opportunities for professional writers. Campus publications are great for gaining experience in writing and editing, and can be a great way to build connections and expand your portfolio. Keep an eye out for campus newspapers, newsletters, or literary journals who are looking for new additions for their staff. If you’re interested in working with layout and visual design, these kinds of organizations often have positions open for those jobs, too!

The Career Center

Your school’s career center is one of the best resources on campus for helping students plan their next steps after graduation. They usually offer an abundance of services, such as resume and cover letter consultations and job interview tips. Students can schedule appointments to meet with an advisor, and can ask any and all questions relating to what comes next in their professional lives. If you are too busy to schedule an appointment, many career centers also have a ton of helpful resources available on their website. 

Many career centers also provide networking and job search resources that help connect students with possible career paths or internships, as well as information about pursuing graduate school. No matter what your future plans may be, the career center can help you. 

Your Department’s Website

If you haven’t checked out your department’s website yet, take a few minutes to explore it! On this website, you might be able to find internship ideas, publication opportunities, and resources for applying to graduate school. Additionally, there might also be links to professional writing journals, podcasts, blogs, or groups. If you’re still wondering what the future holds for you as a professional writer, the answer might only be a few clicks away. 

As professionals, it’s essential for us to reach out beyond the classroom and use the resources that are available to us. There are more opportunities than you might think to build your portfolio, make lasting connections, and achieve your professional writing goals. 

Alumni Mentorship Programs 

Have you ever wondered, how did the most successful alumni get where they are today? If so, then you should check out your department’s opportunities to connect with graduates through mentorship programs. In these programs, students are matched with alumni who work in various professional writing-related fields. From there, you can meet with your mentor throughout the year (or however long the mentorship lasts), and ask questions about careers, internships, the classes they took, or even have them read over your resume and cover letter. Mentors can also serve as a great networking resource and can help you become better connected with the world of professional writing. Students can also engage with alumni at panels or networking events sponsored by their college or university. Keep an eye open for opportunities to connect with professionals in your field and don’t be  afraid to reach out; they want to see you succeed.

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