The curriculum of the B.A. in Professional Writing ensures that students will have a broad range of writing encounters throughout their program of study. Writers need ample opportunities for practice and directed support at all stages of their writing processes. The following specialized educational experiences offer students occasions for developing their skills.
Students majoring in Professional Writing experience workplace writing through an internship to learn about the demands of workplace-specific writing tasks and to help them make decisions about career paths and prepare for their first jobs. Internships are available in assorted professional fields including technical writing, reporting, editing, public relations, tutoring, communications, and journalism. Students have the opportunity to select an internship from a variety of settings, including publishing companies, newspapers, high-tech companies, engineering firms, health organizations, educational and research institutions, government, and non-profit corporations. Students complete the internship with published documents for portfolio inclusion and potential sources of recommendations for future professional positions.
Graduates and current students in the program have completed their internships at a wide range of worksites, as the list below demonstrates:
- Simon and Schuster Publishers
- Men's Health Magazine
- Channel 69 news
- The Hershey Chronicle
- Kutztown University Writing Center
- MedStar Television
- Reading Royals Hockey Team
- The Goggle Works Center for the Arts
- The ClearChannel Radio Network
- Nolde Forest Education Center
- The Reading Eagle Newspaper
- The Reading Historical Society
- Reese and Associates Advertising and Marketing
Students may also choose an on-campus internship. Previous students have worked with University Relations, the Adult Education office, the Penn State Educational Partnership Program, and other campus groups.
Portfolio Development and Job Application Preparation
English 491, The Capstone Course in Professional Writing, is intended as a senior level, culminating course for Professional Writing majors. In preparation for future employment or graduate school application, students will analyze their academic, co-curricular, and internship writing experiences; develop a portfolio of their written work to present to an audience of professional writers and other experts; and create job application documents.
Because today?s professional writers must be able to adapt their skills to a variety of on-line situations, the course work in the Professional Writing degree program provides students with opportunities for using advanced computer software. Professors Kunkelman and Baker developed the course ENGLISH 480: Communication Design for Writers, now available across Penn State University. The course is taught every spring by Mr. Baker, who describes the course's objectives and rationale as follows:
"Increasingly, many professionals in fields that require extensive writing are expected to participate as a team (in larger organizations); this requires having an understanding of other disciplines in order to make collaborative decisions about document design, art, photos, graphics, color, and typography. In smaller settings, the convergence of media mandates that individuals working alone must be familiar with a range of communication tools and strategies in order to make the best decisions when composing documents. Regardless of the setting, an understanding of how writing is packaged and displayed, and how tools of visual and non-verbal communication are used, will prepare professionals to develop effective messages tailored to a variety of media."
The course helps students to develop and/or improve their proficiency with various computer applications, such as Adobe InDesign, Photoshop, Illustrator, Acrobat, Flash, and Dreamweaver.