Skills for Life: Professional Writing and Communication

As I mentioned in my last blog, I didn’t delve into the Professional Writing and Communication program right away during my time as a student at the University of Toronto’s Mississauga campus. In fact, I didn’t even take any writing classes at all until I took the program’s introductory course, Expressive Writing, during a summer semester nearly two years into my degree.

Because of my late start, I had to take a writing course every semester after that (and sometimes more than one) in order to get enough credits for a minor. But I absolutely loved the classes. I already immensely enjoyed writing, and my PWC minor gave me a reason to keep up with it and hone my skills. Guy Allen, the department head, was my professor for “Writing about Place,” and he is without a doubt one of the best and most knowledgeable professors I’ve ever encountered. I would have signed up for more classes taught by him if the chance had arisen.

How does all of this apply to job hunting and career planning, you ask? The fact is, university and college-level writing classes will teach you skills, knowledge and techniques that will benefit you for the rest of your life. Everything you learn in writing courses will carry over into other aspects of your education and career, including writing essays, exams, resumés, cover letters, and even professional emails (while writing a well-composed email may seem trivial, it can be hugely important if the person you are contacting is a professor or potential employer). If you don’t consider yourself to be a particularly good writer, that is all the more reason to take one of these courses so you can work on improving your grammar, prose, and overall ability to express your thoughts on paper. I don’t mean to sound harsh, but you cannot expect to be taken seriously in a professional setting if your writing is riddled with punctuation errors, grammatical mistakes and other such issues.

In case I haven’t sold you on writing classes yet, here are a few more reasons to enrol:

  • You get to study a variety of works by fantastic authors—everything from Franz Kafka to Bret Easton Ellis.
  • The classes are small and intimate, and your professor is always available to give you feedback and advice.
  • On top of covering the writer’s craft, some courses focus on fascinating topics like journalism and the process of putting a book together.
  • No exams! Your grade in most of these courses is based on your assignments and a final portfolio of polished pieces.

Anyways, I highly recommend the Professional Writing and Communication program at UTM, but I’m sure there are similar worthwhile programs elsewhere. Look into it if you get the chance!

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