November 2017 archive

Yellow Brick Road

My experiences in college have been a testament to the idea that there is actually no Yellow Brick Road, as Arts & Science dean Dr. Sacha Kopp says in one of his letters to Stony Brook University students (reprinted in a blog that my professional writing class read this fall). Prior to entering college, I had this very set plan about what I was going to pursue and how long it was going to take me. As I began freshman year, it was very apparent that there were two categories that you could be placed into- those who knew what they wanted to do and those who were clueless. I was fortunate enough to know exactly what I wanted to do but I definitely faced my fair share of obstacles.

Although my major/AOI (area of interest) didn’t change upon entering college, my path definitely has. I had planned on applying to nursing school as soon as I could and getting done with school in the typical 4 year span. Shortly after my freshman year, I realized that my plans would have to be tweaked a bit. I ended up having to retake a class that was a prereq of another class that I needed so that pushed my plans back my a semester or two. Like anyone else would, I began to panic and rethink my entire career choice. After much planning and deliberating, I decided that I would still pursue nursing, but that I would just approach it differently. My plan now is to apply to accelerated nursing programs after graduation. This allows me to apply for nursing school with a bachelors and leaves me with a back up if need be. Based off of the position I am in now, I believe that this is the better and more efficient route for me to take. The whole experience definitely showed me that there is more than one way to get somewhere and everyone’s journey is unique.

As someone who is not involved much on campus, I take the line “Leave time for that ‘other stuff,’ check out a student organization, establish relationships with faculty, students, and mentors, and allow one’s self the permission to try things out.” to heart. I’ve been disappointed with my lack of community here at Stony Brook and I really want to try and become part of campus. Although I don’t know how to start, I plan on going to more club fairs next semester and throwing myself out there. In the end, this will not only benefit me socially but the relationships and connections I’ll make will benefit me in more ways than one. I’ve spoken to multiple people and have been told countless times that life is all about the connections you make. You truly never know who you’re going to meet and where those people can take you.

College is an extremely stressful time and it may feel almost impossible to relax and enjoy your time there. Kopp says, “No one I know would say they’re doing exactly what they imagined 20 years ago, but each of us are happiest when we remain open to new opportunities all along the way.” It is very important to keep an open mind and try not to have high expectations when going through life. There’s always a chance that you may come across something unfamiliar and end up liking it. Always being open to new opportunities and ideas allows you to be susceptible to anything which broadens your horizons. Sometimes being fearless and biting the bullet really pays off.

Email Netiquette

When I read about good email-writing etiquettes, or netiquettes as the professor’s handout called them, I was surprised to see how little I knew about writing a proper email. The handout provided readers with tips in writing in appropriate language and style, considering the human relationship behind the mechanical tool, and technical issues, all of which form a concise and professional email. I’ve always thought of emails as an extremely quick way to contact people and with the word quick came the connotation that emails are also informal. Reading the handout forced me to sit down and really think about the gravity of sending emails. Emails are the most professional means of communication to exist in today’s society and developing a clean and proper email could be the thing that ultimately gets you what you want.

Signature blocks serve the purpose of providing the recipient with contact information in a concise manner so that if needed, the sender of the email can be reached with ease. Because emails are used as a way to communicate back and forth, having a signature blocks allows the recipient to reach out to the person on the other end of the email in an alternative way, whether it be my phone number, address, or an alternate email. The article suggests that before sending an email, one should “adjust the amount of contact details in the signature block to particular instances of writing.” Depending on the level of professionalism and the context of the email, too much contact information may be unnecessary so it’s best to read the situation and use your own judgement.

Because I am someone who is not very tech savvy, the technical issues that the article touched upon were extremely enlightening. Like everyone else, I have definitely had my own share of mishaps, especially when it comes to the old responding to everyone attached in the email instead of the one person who I wanted to reach predicament. Problems like this are common but also come off as a bit unprofessional so having read some of the the technical tips mentioned will definitely help not only me, but those who also struggle with email logistics. Some of the technical tips include suggesting people to “…compose the message in a word processor—both for technical reasons and better composition.”, “Use subheadings, visuals, and vertical space.” and “use bcc if you don’t want other recipients know that you are copying…” These are all extremely handy tips that often are forgotten about because they are not pertaining to the actual written email itself.

While I did learn a lot, I was rather surprised to see that I already did do a lot of the things mentioned. So, I now know how to describe what I do. Some of these skills include using effective subject lines, addressing the person I am writing the email to, and not using all caps. Being in college, I am forced to write emails nearly everyday so I’ve learned a few things along the way. There are also some professors who have specific guidelines for emails so directions like those force me to be professional in a way I may have never been before. Their guidelines may also show me some formats that I like and will continue to use even after I leave their class. Emails are a fundamental component of communication in not only the business world, but also in everyday life and email writing is a skill that I believe everyone should possess or at least have some understanding of.