Writing For Your Profession is an upper level undergraduate course offered by the Program in Writing and Rhetoric at Stony Brook University (SUNY). This class portfolio showcases one key aspect of the section of WRT 304 as taught by Shyam Sharma, the Blogfolio Project. Using the WordPress-based edublog application that the university provides, this site models and provides guidelines for students. Students’ blogfolios are linked from the right navigation panel.
The Blogfolio Project, as the name indicates, is a combination of blogging with online portfolio, in this case professional portfolio. For this assignment, students create a blog-based website (early in the semester) and publish, as static pages, the different parts of their resumes (with additional details and media as well as additional sections that suit the online version). But besides being an extended, online version of their resume, students’ blogfolios also include the following materials in the form of blog entries or static pages (as appropriate): reading responses (or blog posts in other areas of their interest as discussed with me), their professional autobiography essay–for which I borrowed the idea from Dr. Peter Khost–and their reflections on the course. Students may draft and revise their work within Google Docs linked from Blackboard and publish material when they feel confident; they make the site or specific pages/posts private as they like. This is flexible project, and it allows students to do a lot more than the basic/required amount of work; students should take the initiative, invest sufficient time and energy, and demonstrate their skills and interests in order to take advantage of the opportunity of this project. More detailed guidelines are provided via Blackboard course shell. The broader context of the assignment can be seen from the description and objectives of the course below.
BROADER CONTEXT, Course Description: Writing and communication skills are vital to professional success in any field, and with the advancements in information technologies, the workplace requires not only constant communication in writing but also a wide range of proficiencies to write effectively and in a variety of modes and media. The importance of writing in the workplace has been verified by national data as well as surveys of many employers of Stony Brook University graduates. Indeed, the writing proficiencies required by today’s professions may seem too many and too varied for a single course intended to prepare you for your profession. This course will tackle the above challenge by helping you understand the underlying rhetorical principles, major genres and conventions of writing, common types of documents, and widely used media in your chosen or anticipated profession. The course will emphasize each student’s career interests even while it covers general areas of professional writing—including elements of rhetoric for effective communication (audience awareness, understanding the context, organizational culture), genres of writing (letters/emails, proposals), and media (print, hypertext, social media, multimedia)—with the objective of producing polished writing by paying attention to the processes of drafting, revising, and editing texts. Thus, in addition to learning how to analyze contexts/purposes, genres/conventions, and audiences/expectations of writing in the professions, you will also leave the course with practiced knowledge of how to write business letters, draft and design effective resumes, and create a professional portfolio online. That is, in order to scaffold your composition of the specific texts with broader understanding of the rhetorical elements mentioned above, you will also engage in ongoing self-reflexive writing about “writing for your profession.” As represented by the key writing assignment (the professional autobiography) which will be a foundational part of the blogfolio project, this course will help you learn to write with a keen awareness of the contexts of writing in your profession and also your own professional aspirations within the bigger picture of your work, life, and society.
BROADER CONTEXT, Course Objectives: On successful completion of this course, you should be able to gain or reinforce the ability to: 1) research, analyze, and reflect on the contexts, cultures, discourses, and practices of writing as they relate to your professional identity and aspirations toward being a successful writer in your profession; 2) create and revise texts in different genres of professional communication, as well as academic research and argumentation, using appropriate style and tone; 3) edit and produce written works with clear, concise, and correct language appropriate to the writing; 4) design and present print, web, and multimodal texts by using appropriate format and layout. Note: Students are encouraged to relate assignments, ideas, and skills in the course to their current and anticipated academic/professional work, interests, and goals.
OTHER ASPECTS OF THE COURSE (* means “to be eventually included in the blogfolio”)
*Reading responses, participating in class discussions, and taking the initiative to work with the instructor are crucial in this course. Use the “heads up” questions posted on Blackboard>>Required Readings folder to prepare for engaged class discussions. The objective of the prompts is to help you improve “strategic” reading skills, to make class discussions more effective and productive, and for generating ideas for writing blog entries for the blogfolio project. You will write six of these during the semester. You can replace reading responses with blog posts on subjects of your interest as discussed with the instructor.
Writing in/for the Workplace: 1) Negative message letter… 2) Resume … (parts of this are developed into different static pages in the blogfolio), 3) Genre Analysis paper…
*Being (More Than) In My Profession, or the “Professional Autobiography” essay: The objective of this assignment is for you to describe and reflect on your aspirations by analyzing yourself in relation to those aspirations. Visualize and represent the past, present, and any projected future stories of you in the context of your current or anticipated profession, informing your audience of how you came to your career path, where you are on it now, and what it looks like ahead of you. This assignment requires you to conduct research (academic and online) in order to find authentic and relevant sources on writing in the academic disciplines and professions, substantively draw on them to developing your ideas, and cite and document the sources using standard academic conventions; a minimum of 5 authentic sources, plus any number from assigned/provided readings, is required. You will draft and finalize this essay in Google Docs linked on Blackboard until it is ready to post on your blogfolio, but should feel free to password-protect it on the latter site if you want to. Do not hesitate to be honest and ambitious as well as thoughtful/imaginative, though you should decide what and how much you want to share with the class or a broader audience that you choose. Think of this composition as a kind of professional autobiography, though you should also imagine and explain how your successes shall not be limited to your job: a fulfilled life involves far more than just a career, and ideally, one’s professional and personal activities should form a meaningful and harmonious lifestyle. Furthermore, because lives are not lived in a vacuum, the quality of one’s experiences and contributions has a lot to do with one’s contexts or environment. So, use this essay to contextualize your professional aspirations within a fuller portrait of your past and future life and the various social, cultural, and other influences on your identity such as educational, familial, racial/ethnic, economic, gendered, and geographic. Effective essays are compelling and convincing for your audiences to read and they also ideally help you define and recognize your own professional identity and aspirations in the context of the many factors/forces that influence them.
*Reflection on the course or the blogfolio assignment: In a Google Docs linked on Blackboard, using a telling title, write an essay in which you reflect on the process/activities, products, and the learning experience in this course, focusing on any particular assignments, by the time you write this essay. What did you learn from the readings, discussions and activities in class, and the assignments? What did you already know about the context, genres, conventions, and challenges of writing in your profession and what did you learn/realize from the course? How do you think you will use your learning toward your future writing/professional work? Further prompts, guidelines, and resources are provided on Blackboard.