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From chapter 13, “‘And Sometimes We Debate’: How Networking Transforms What Professional Writers Know”

Materials from ENG 522 – Writing in Nonacademic Settings

In this assignment, you will produce a careful, reflective, and well-structured professional portfolio that demonstrates various skills and experiences that define you as a writer and/or editor and that enables you to connect with the other professionals who form your field.  Your professional portfolio offers you the opportunity to highlight your unique skill sets, strengths, and professional identities, while also orienting yourself to the social networks and professional fields that most interest you as locations for your career. Your portfolio also offers the opportunity for providing hard evidence to back up the claims that you make about yourself.

What Am I Supposed to Learn Through This Assignment?

Your portfolio is a living argument.  That is, it should include the elements of any good persuasive document. It should provide readers with a coherent way to understand the main points you are hoping to make. It should provide clear and related evidence to support claims you make. Finally, it should overtly draw connections among the claims and the evidence, ensuring that readers are able to draw the connections that you hope they will. Through this assignment, you should learn about how to represent yourself as a professional, how to provide evidence to back up the identity that you project, and how to contextualize and discuss the value of your contributions.

The Deliverable

You can take various approaches to putting your professional portfolio together, and you may use any online platform that you think will best work with you to achieve the kind of argument described above.  The materials included in your portfolio could include any of the following, or other projects that we have not yet considered. Generally, however, your e-portfolio should include at least:

  • Descriptive writing that frames you as a professional for readers unfamiliar with you. This might come in the form of an “About Me” page on a website, or a short narrative description on a social account like LinkedIn
  • Examples of or links to texts that illustrate or describe your prior writing and/or editing experiences. Please note that these “samples” may vary in type and need not all be finished documents that you completed. Here are some examples of what might be included:
    • A reflective report based on your experiences in a job, internship, or client project. You might focus on issues such as how writing influences organizational decision making, which genres you learned as part of your work in an organization, how you learned to adapt to the organizational and genre conventions of the organization, or how you contributed to a particular collaborative process.
    • A case study discussing some aspect of your experience in a job or internship.
    • An extensive product or a range of communicative products produced for an employer during a job or internship experience such as style guides, orientation manuals, employee handbooks, web sites, social media sites, etc
    • Materials and artifacts from your coursework, professional activities, conference presentations, publications, etc that would facilitate your job search efforts.
  • Writing that draws a direct connection between the descriptions of you and the examples of what you’ve done
  • An apparatus that allows you to begin to connect with others

Tips

  • The likelihood of a future employer sitting down and reading through a complete sample in your portfolio is low. For this reason, it is important to have skimmable descriptions that pull out what you want readers to understand about your writing or your experience. Tell them directly what you hope they will notice.
  • Keywords are very important. For most of you, there will be many different ways that you could describe your skills, characteristics, and prior experiences. You should choose language that connects you to the professional fields and positions that you want to build relationships with.
  • As with any other kind of writing, the key to a successful portfolio will be getting feedback from many people on the arrangement, writing style, visual presentation, and other aspects of your portfolio. Please use your networks to improve your portfolio.
  • In the final two weeks of class, you will present your portfolio and discuss it in terms of claims, evidence, and connections between the two. The class will offer feedback for revision.

Evaluation

This assignment is graded either satisfactory or unsatisfactory. In order to receive a satisfactory grade, your deliverables must show evidence that you can successfully do the following:

  • projects a professional identity that connects to existing fields, people, and builds on personal strengths, characteristics, and experiences
  • chooses samples or evidence that highlight skills, experiences, and characteristics
  • connects samples presented in overt ways to claims about strengths, skills, and experiences
  • successfully draws on the affordances of the platform to design a readable and visually appealing portfolio
  • establishes a foundation for building professional relationships

Any Questions?

Contact Dr. Pigg at slpigg@ncsu.edu.

**This assignment has been shaped by Susan Katz, Huiling Ding, Douglas Walls, and others who have worked on the ENG 522 curriculum.