English 322 offers professional writing skills to students

Many college students view writing as a useless drudgery beneficial only to journalists, speechwriters and novelists. English classes are believed to be impractical to students wishing to enter the world of professionals. However, being able to write is extremely important for success in the business world, and Southeastern Louisiana University provides an English course designed to help students gain this necessary skill.

Southeastern’s introduction course to professional and technical writing, English 322, offers students the experience of writing resumes, cover and transmittal letters, memos, proposals and instruction manuals. Students learn the importance of good grammar, correct spelling, thorough research and writing with the audience in mind.

“Students tend not to think about who is on the other side of the document they are creating,” Southeastern professor, Dr. Paul Sawyer said. “The audience helps create the document almost as much as the author. My students know I pound the idea of audience into the ground.”

Keeping the audience in mind is such an important concept, students learn they should create several different resumes, each tailored specifically to the job they are applying for.

“They need to think of their audience first,” Dr. Dianna Laurent said. Laurent teaches English 322 at Southeastern and enjoys when her students apply the principles learned in class to their daily lives. “I don’t think you can get a job without professional writing,” she said. “You wouldn’t get past the first layer of the application process.”

Sawyer, the coordinator of professional writing, said everyone would take the class if it was up to him. “Everyone needs to now how to write and what kinds of writing they will create in the workplace. I don’t care what you are going to be in life, being able to write well will enable the person to rise in the ranks.”

Students who have taken the class find the skills beneficial in their career preparation. Both Laurent and Sawyer said they love when previous students tell them they have gained a job because of a well-written resume, or have received special equipment because of a skillfully crafted proposal.

“Making myself sit back and go through a document slowly has been the most significant thing that I have learned thus far,” undergraduate Kathleen Kelly said. “A formal document needs more than one or two hours to be completed at a satisfactory level.”

Kinesiology major, Elizabeth Prosperie, believes the class is an important step in preparing students for life. “I was taught how to write a good resume and that is something almost everyone will have to know how to do,” she said. “This document applies most to my immediate future because I want to get a job at a physical therapy clinic to get experience, and I think a well written resume will help me with that goal.”

English 322 is open to all Southeastern students who have taken English 102 or 122H. The course is worth 3 credit hours and is taught every semester.

For students wishing to gain further writing skills for the workplace, Southeastern offers an English minor concentrating on professional and technical writing. The minor, worth 18 credit hours, consists of Introduction to Professional and Technical Writing (English 322), Advanced Professional and Technical Writing (English 448/548), a choice of three general writing classes or Telecommunications in Business (GBBT 351), and three electives. The electives must include courses on document design, international perspectives and discourse of the professions. These courses must be approved by the department head and can be tailored to fit a student’s chosen career.

“English 322 is a good intro, but if a student wants to be a Professional Writer, or any type of writer in their field, they might want to think about the minor,” Sawyer said. “Once they have these basics under their belt, students are able to take various courses in their content area – their major – that will also count towards the Professional Writing minor. Obviously, we couldn’t include classes from EVERY major, but the list of classes is pretty vast.”

Sawyer said the minor is designed in this way to interest a variety of students from a variety of majors. “When we were putting together the minor, we pulled from far and wide to appeal and make the minor applicable to the most students,” he said.  

For more information on the Professional Writing minor and which courses would apply, please contact English advisor Dr. Mary Sue Ply at mply@selu.edu.

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