I founded a communications company after leaving teaching in 2017. At the time, I had a bazillion degrees and had published books in two languages. You’d think that I already knew how much words matter. But I didn’t really. Or at least I hadn’t realized how much of the world really needs people who can communicate well.
When you spend most of your time reading good literature, analyzing it, and then helping students write clearly about it, sometimes you take for granted that surely other people out there know how to write. It seemed to me like the issues I was helping my students tackle–clarity, organization, effective argumentation–were ones specific to them. But, I was wrong.
In fact, just this week, I helped the head of a major department at a major university system write an effective letter to some top sponsors. Working with him reminded me of the many conversations that I had with students years ago. Here are some of the questions he asked:
Q: Is it join with or just join?
A: Just join–no preposition needed!
Q: I want to say that sponsoring my event will “put their commitment at the forefront.”
A: Ok–but that doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. (I was, of course, nicer in my response. But think about it–do we ever say something like that in real life? “Josie, I want to put my commitment to you at the forefront.” How romantic, Bob!) I suggested: Our event is a unique opportunity for dedicated industry leaders to collaborate.
Of course, everyone can learn to write and to write well. But everyone also needs help (even writers need editors)–and people who are good at one profession might not be great at telling people about it.
And guess what–telling people about what you do is the foundation of everything else. It all builds from there.
I tell all my professor friends–please, share this with your students. We all need good writers out there. Every single industry. If words are your passion, there’s a world of career opportunities out there far beyond the education sector.
Go ahead, be an English major! It’s a good investment.
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