What Our Writing Consultant Alumni Are Doing Now

Inspired by the Peer Writing Tutor Alumni Research Project, we decided to contact Carleton writing consultant "alumni" and ask them how they have been affected by their training and work in and for the Writing Center.  They told us

What did our former writing consultants major in at Carleton?

  • American Studies
  • Art History
  • Biology
  • Chemistry
  • Cinema & Media Studies
  • Classical Languages
  • Classics
  • Educational Studies
  • English
  • Geology
  • Greek
  • International Relations
  • Latin American Studies
  • Math
  • Physics
  • Political Science/IR
  • Psychology
  • Romance Languages
  • Sociology/Anthropology
  • Studio Art

What post-Carleton education have some of our consultants pursued?

  • Certificate in publishing (Denver Publishing Institute)
  • Business school
  • Currently applying for master’s degree in museum studies/curation
  • Currently enrolled in a Master's of Multicultural Education, but applying to programs for Education Policy
  • Curriculum and Instruction (MA in Education)
  • Doctor of Osteopathy 2011
  • English Literature PhD/ MA
  • Juris Doctor
  • M.A. in literature
  • M.A. in Humanities and Social Thought (The Draper Program)
  • MA/PhD in Art History
  • Master of Science degree in Journalism
  • Master’s degree in Geology (current)
  • Master's Degree in Latin American Studies
  • Master’s in Communication Disorders and Sciences
  • Master’s in Family Therapy
  • Master’s of Arts in Teaching (in progress)
  • Medicine
  • MPhil in Classics
  • MPhil PhD MD
  • PhD, French Literature
  • PhD, Applied Physics
  • PhD, Political Science
  • Professional/personal development classes

What are the most significant abilities, values, or skills alumni developed in their work as writing consultants?

  • At the most basic level, as a writing assistant I had to memorize grammar rules, understand what makes a powerful thesis/narrative in writing, and learn how to best present a voice and/or an argument on paper. More importantly, my three years of being a writing consultant taught me how to listen to and communicate with people; appointments were mostly conversations, in which I as a consultant had to determine what the student was trying to say in his/her writing and then ask the appropriate questions to allow the student to then understand how to improve his/her paper. It was never just about the writing -- it's mostly about the communicating.
  • Abilities/skills: organization, argumentation, critical analysis, documentation, proofreading, editing, revising.
    Values: active voice, peer review, reading aloud, clarity.
  • Abilities: Listening to what the writer wants the paper to be, asking leading questions, sympathizing while focusing on the task at hand, figuring out what the paper is trying to be and then helping the writer to sort out their ideas. In other words, my time as a writing consultant greatly developed my ability to understand what a writer is trying to communicate and to help them clarify and organize their ideas.
    Values: I learned to value clarity, topic sentences, explicit points, specific theses... I like to think that I also learned to sympathize with the writer and with what the writer is trying to accomplish, to value original, true expression over conformity and saying-what-the-teacher-wants-to-hear. Another value--writing doesn't have to be a solitary occupation! It's okay--nay, wonderful--to share your writing and bounce ideas off other people and have conversations about your work. I still get annoyed when people suggest that asking for help on your writing somehow makes you a lesser person.
    Skills: Through working on so many papers, my own argumentative, organizational, and rewriting skills improved. I also learned to both see the larger picture in a paper (the global view) and to figure out how the local pieces were fitting together to create that picture.
  • Ability to engage others in conversations about their writing Ability to quickly recognize strengths and weaknesses in writing.
  • Ability to focus and limit feedback to make it as useful as possible.
  • Ability to read my own writing with "fresher" eyes.
  • Ability to provide feedback in a helpful, sensitive way; exposure to various writing styles; one-on-one people skills; professionalism.
  • Ability to teach others, writing.
  • Ability to work collaboratively. Ability to talk about a piece of writing with a peer in a non-directive way. A greater understanding of my own strengths and weaknesses as a writer and tutor. An understanding of a diverse array of resources on writing and teaching writing. Most importantly, a passion for teaching (especially in a non-hierarchical environment).
  • Ability to work one-on-one with a writer, developing techniques as a writing tutor.
  • Appreciating writing as a collaborative process and learning to engage with someone on improving a text.
  • As a writing consultant, I spent a lot of time trying to clarify and understand ideas which may have been poorly expressed. Also, I learned careful ways to give constructive criticism.
  • Being a writing consultant developed my ability to help others improve their work without me taking ownership of it. It also improved my ability to review my own written work.
  • Clear communication and problem solving skills; being able to explain grammar and mechanical issues; strategies for improving expository writing.
  • Communicating ideas to others, being critical/pointing out areas for improvement while still being positive about a person's work, better understanding of means of organizing and presenting written work, patience, improved overall writing skills.
  • Communication skills, patience, improved awareness of issues that arise in academic writing, studying skills (helpful especially in advising ESL students).
  • Fulfilling the role of an educational assistant, rather than tutor.  Awareness of challenges posed by trying to evaluate ESL student work and the possible need to operate as a cultural informant.
  • Heightened command of formal English; much better writing ability; teaching experience; empathy.
  • Honing my own arguments in papers and being able to talk about those arguments out loud. Also, working with other people in a one-on-one setting in a relaxed manner, and offering advice in a non-confrontational manner.
  • How to "consult" rather than "instruct." The experience of not telling someone what they should do, but instead walking them through the process of deciding what to do and granting them agency over their own problem has been incredibly valuable both personally and professionally.
  • How to communicate with students, identify their goals, strengths, weaknesses.
  • I learned how to succinctly express myself, how to organize ideas into a paper, and also how to give constructive criticism to peers.
  • I learned the value of working iteratively through the writing process and the advantage many eyes can have on perfecting a piece.
  • I learned to communicate better with others. Also, by looking at how others write, I feel that my own writing has also improved.
  • I think it helped me learn to work with people one on one and build relationships so they would keep coming back to me.
  • I was able to hone my own writing skills, learning to write more concise essays and ensure that I used appropriate citations (I still use Diana Hacker!), and working at the Writing Center taught me how to talk about writing (and what makes effective writing) with others, a skill that is tremendously important in developing proposals with colleagues who have varying levels of skill when it comes to writing. I also spent some time working with ESL students, something that has been beneficial in a lot of the work I've done working with the Latino community in Philadelphia.
  • Interacting with students, quickly reading a text for structure, ability to form constructive criticism, allowing the student to lead the interaction.
  • Listening attentively, writing clearly, communicating ideas.
  • One-on-one conversations and mentoring. Ability to ask open ended questions which help other people think. Ability to give constructive criticism. Ability to speak to groups. Respect and value of educators, writers, and those who give and ask for help. Ability to navigate uncomfortable conversations.
  • Paying close attention to the structure of essays at all levels--sentence structures, paragraph structures, whole paper--affects the how meanings are communicated. Learning how to talk through these factors with students was a huge asset.
  • Student-centered conferencing, identifying and guiding development of the vital parts of a document.
  • The ability to coach/mentor clients in a client-directed setting; experience working with ESL students.
  • Working as a consultant further improved my writing ability. Seeing all different kinds of writing, and working with students to improve them, helped set me up for success in my career now. I also think I developed my ability to give my peers direct, constructive feedback. I do this all the time with Teach For America. As a consultant I learned how to ask probing questions and give targeted feedback to a peer while building them up.
  • Working as a writing consultant helped me to be more succinct, constructive, and positive in communication with others. I learned to focus on essential points and the overall process of the task. Overall, I improved in my ability to give helpful feedback that would be transferable beyond that specific interaction.
  • Working with others, patience, ability to guide others in the learning process.

Did these abilities, values, or skills seem to play a role in consultants' application, interviewing, or acceptance into graduate or professional school?

  • A few institutions offered me special scholarships for having teaching and writing skills, even though I'm in a science and engineering program.
  • Having a head start on teaching experience did help my applications and has already proved helpful in TAing classes.
  • I believe my time as a writing consultant significantly improved my own writing skills, which translated into quality writing samples and statements of purpose when applying to grad school. Especially in terms of the statement of purpose, I think I was able to effectively communicate my goals for the Master's program, as well as those qualities that set me apart from other applicants.
  • I learned how important feedback is on both written and oral presentations. My applications improved considerably after working with Kathy and having others look over my work.
  • I pursued a graduate degree in journalism - it was easy to demonstrate my interest in writing and working with writers during the application process.
  • I used my argumentative, organizational, and rewriting skills in my personal statement. I also tried to be honest in what I was saying. I learned from working with writers that the strongest papers were those the students believed in. So I tried to write something I believed in. There wasn't an interview for the Denver Institute.
  • I used my writing skills in my medical school essays for the application and my speaking skills for the interviews.
  • It was one of the strong points of my CV when applying for teaching jobs and for grad school. And the writing skills I gained while working as a consultant helped me write strong cover letters and personal statements.
  • Knowing how to write well and try to see it from someone else's perspective definitely helped my writing sample. Also being able to talk about ideas and writing with Susan Bauer, and being able to articulate my thoughts with her, was immeasurably helpful with my writing sample, which got me into the Draper Program at NYU.
  • My experience providing small group and one-on-one instruction was very applicable to the field I went into.
  • My interest in teaching was a central theme in my application essay, and my work as a research assistant for Kathy Evertz factored prominently on my CV, as I had presented my research alongside Dr. Evertz at the CCCC conference.
  • My one-on-one conferences with students undoubtedly prepared me for my interview process with TFA and with the school principals. I taught reading and English for four years, and in that capacity, my Write Place work was one of my best foundations for knowing how to communicate effectively with students.
  • My whole career is focused around the teaching of writing, and I used this to help with my application.
  • My writing skills were very useful.
  • One of the reasons I decided to apply to Madison was because their Writing Center has such a strong reputation and I look forward to working there in the coming years.
  • Only indirectly as far as they spoke to my own skills as a writer.
  • Somewhat, I definitely knew when applying how important peer review for application essays was and have read essays for friends of mine applying to school since then.
  • The joy and fulfillment I derived from working as a writing consultant informed my decision to pursue higher education in the field of education. I am working to gain an endorsement to teach middle school math and reading.
  • These experiences (particularly ESL work) were consistent with my advisor's philosophy of educational outreach to groups that have traditionally been underrepresented in the sciences.
  • They might have, albeit indirectly. My law school application certainly emphasized my writing center experience. Even though "the numbers" i.e. GPA and LSAT matter most in the law school admission process, admissions officers tend to view any indicia of writing ability positively.

In their occupation(s), how have they used the skills they developed as writing consultants?

  • As a scientist, I communicate through writing all of the time. Starting early, reading text out loud, realizing that there is no one "right" way to write a piece, and gathering extensive feedback has made the writing process less painful and even a joy.
  • As a teacher, I used my ability to tutor others.
  • As an Americorps high school coach with Admission Possible, I used my writing center experience almost every day. When I wasn't leading classes, I was working one-on-one with students and that usually meant discussing writing for the ACT or for college applications.
  • As an editor I coach writers on a daily basis. Also, I have continued my ESL work by volunteering with ELLs in an elementary school.
  • Being a writing consultant was an early way for me to practice and develop my teaching skills. I now teach a broader audience, but I use many of the communication, feedback, and interpersonal skills I developed as a writing consultant.
  • Due to my knowledge of formal written English, my boss asks me to proofread my colleagues' work before it is published on the company's website. More generally, I rely on my ability to write, a skill sharpened significantly as a consequence of my work in the Write Place, daily and continue to conduct trainings in a similar manner to what I conducted as a Writing Assistant.
  • I developed a lot of my instructional style as a writing consultant.
  • I have had to communicate with a variety of individuals and assist with written pieces that are included in exhibitions and on the website. This often involves patience and compromise in order to produce a piece that is satisfying for everyone.
  • I have written up a case report for a radiology journal and although scientific writing is different from writing for political science or English class the basic principles are still the same.
  • I routinely work with clients that are frustrated or new to online marketing, and are often scared of losing money and face in a new medium they don't fully understand. I can explain products and features to them until I'm blue in the face, but the light bulb only goes on when I help them explain it to themselves and let them feel confident and in control--exactly the skills we practiced as Writing Consultants.
  • I spend an estimated half of my day writing and editing grants and reports, and the other half communicating with colleagues about the writing.
  • I use ability to talk with people and talk constructively in my work and daily life all the time.
  • I work with undergrads on their papers at Duke so the skills have transferred very directly.
  • I write a lot of the content that goes onto our park website. I also write brochures for the public. I produce high-quality written work because I have the ability to analyze and organize complicated archaeological literature and present it in an understandable way. I help my coworkers do the same using the methods I learned for writing conferences at Carleton.
  • I'm not sure if my graduate school career counts as an "occupation" here, but I definitely believe that the skills I gained as a writing consultant have been put to use in grad school.
  • In my current job I'm constantly writing to a variety of audiences for a whole ton or reasons. I write to inspire our corps members, to persuade district and school leaders, to share information and set expectations for my staff, to reflect on my own practice, and more. I spend over 50% of my time writing something in some form. I also give feedback to help my colleagues and young teachers improve their practice. I need to inspire and invest them while sharing concrete, sometimes difficult feedback on their effectiveness.
  • Last semester I was a TA and worked one-on-one with the same seven students all semester. I used the strategies that I learned in the writing center to help with this.
  • My experience as a writing consultant led directly to my first job (as a writing specialist at a community college). The skills I had developed at Carleton were essential in gaining access to this job and gave me a great foundation for improving and expanding my abilities as a writing consultant. In addition, I have served as a consultant to my current employer (a social service agency) as they work to develop a learning center.
  • My most important job was NSW Coordinator when I was still at Carleton, and my people skills honed at the Write Place definitely helped with that.
  • My schoolwork often calls for clear, strong writing and the careful organization of complex ideas.
  • Not just yet. I never really edited writing for substance as a paralegal. As a law clerk, though, I expect that the experience will help me better work with the judge in crafting opinions.
  • It was also tremendously helpful since I've worked on developing tutoring programs for proposals at the nonprofits where I've worked and at the University where I'm currently employed. Carleton has an exceptional model and I've realized that as I've seen other programs. There is more to "tutoring" than being skilled in a given content area, and the training that Carleton's Write Place staff provided was excellent and very important. I've worked to make sure that any tutoring programs I've developed have as much comparable training as I can afford to budget in.
  • The guided mentoring I practiced as a writing assistant has been useful in my role as a TA.
  • They're helpful in writing scientific papers, which is a group writing process.
  • Though writing has not been a core focus in my jobs, I used the flexibility my supervisors have offered me to integrate my writing skills into as many projects as possible, from creating newsletters, submitting grants, designing flyers, writing scripts, and reviewing others' work. Moreover, the skills I developed as a writing consultant have factored significantly in the success of my cover letters to these employers.
  • Whether working one on one or leading a group, I've used patience and guided others to maintain or increase their abilities. Led a writing group with those in mid to late stages of memory loss as an Activities Assistant. Used writing skills in freelance work.
  • Yes, because I teach at Kaplan, and there I have worked with students on application essays. Also I have used writing skills as part of my qualifying exam to teach.
  • Yes, every day. As I evaluate manuscripts, I try to understand what the writer wants the story to be, not just what they have accomplished so far. Working at the Write Place, I was trained in recognizing potential and then helping the writer capitalize upon it. That's an incredibly useful skill in a job where I am expected to decide whether a manuscript could turn into something brilliant if edited. I also gained experience seeing a larger picture: the overall structure of the paper. That's another useful skill when evaluating and editing manuscripts. In a paper, as in a story, every small part contributes to the larger whole. I learned that at the Write Place, and to focus on how each smaller section can further the thesis (or themes or character development or plot). Be nice to writers: that's another thing being a writing consultant taught me. Writers can be fragile creatures; we should nurture them, convince them that they are worthwhile, and help them to grow. That's a crucial attitude in my occupation.
  • Yes; I have been a college coach with Admission Possible and an ESL teacher in the Czech Republic and Bangladesh. I have been able to help my students a lot with their composition and communication skills.