Meet: Cassidy Clark
What do you currently do (or plan to do), and how do the skills you acquired and practiced in the Writing & Linguistics courses benefit this plan?
I am a Technical Writer in the engineering department at Rinnai America Corporation in Peachtree City, GA. I work closely with the project engineers to document products and processes for the company, users, vendors, and industry certifications.
As a writing student, I learned how to strategically think about and for my audience, organize complex information, and prioritize multiple projects at one time. As a technical writer, these are all daily parts of my job. Every Writing and Linguistics course I took contributed to these skills, but two I reference often are Advanced Editing and Writing in the Workplace, because both gave me the practice and tools I needed to learn how to critically communicate in a professional environment.
Why did you decide to major in Writing & Linguistics as opposed to other majors/minors?
Writing and Linguistics was always a “pipe dream” major for me because I loved writing and wanted to pursue it but couldn’t practically justify it in my mind as a stable career choice. I had no interest in pursuing creative writing and I didn’t think there was anything else I could really do with a W&L degree. However, after a year as a Child Life major, I spontaneously changed to Writing and Linguistics the night before classes started in Fall 2015. One of the last-minute classes I managed to snag that semester was Foundations in Professional and Technical Writing with Dr. Schreiber, and I remember her walking in the first day and talking about something I had never heard of before: technical writing. She described it as simply “helping people,” and began to explain how rhetoric informs technology, and that was the beginning of my love for the field. I decided to minor in Information Technology because I wanted to understand usability in a granular sense, as well as a linguistic one. I felt like my major/minor combination taught me both sides of the usability coin and gave me a well-rounded perspective for information design.
How well did your experiences in Writing & Linguistics prepare you for graduate school and/or employer demands?
The Writing and Linguistics program prepared me very well for not only my current job, but also the process of finding a job. Outside of the required CBK courses, all of my classes were focused on professional writing and editing. I was able to compile a comprehensive portfolio that I submitted with every job application by pulling from past classes and assignments. The attention to format and detail are crucial skills I acquired and use every day now, and the variety of classes in the program gave me a lot of confidence in myself as a writer. I don’t like creative writing and I put off taking that CBK course until my very last semester because I kept hoping there would be some way I could get out of taking it, but when I finished the course and had three original creative pieces, I was surprised at how proud I felt at accomplishing something I didn’t think I could do. The writing major is really good at exposing you to diverse environments that will challenge your strengths and strengthen your weaknesses.
Is there a specific experience you’ve had in the Writing & Linguistics department that you would like to share?
My favorite W&L class was Advanced Editing, Spring 2017. I think there were only 6 people in the class, and every day we would come in and sit around the table and talk about our assignments and do research and write. That environment was the most fun and instructive class I have taken because we were able to process with one another as we were learning about topics like content strategy, markup languages and user testing. One of the mantras we hear all the time as writing students is “show don’t tell,” and that is a true reflection of the writing major.
What advice would you give to students considering a major/minor in Writing & Linguistics?
Do it! Companies are in desperate need for people who love to write and are good at it. A writing major/minor paired with a technical major/minor like IT, IS, or engineering are rare and valued assets. Be strategic with your decisions. Whether it’s choosing a minor that will make you stand out in an application or picking a topic for a term paper that could add something unique to your portfolio, take advantage of these opportunities as steps to achieving your goals. I interviewed at several companies before accepting my current job, and all of them wanted a writer who could prove they had attention to detail and excellent communication skills but were also passionate about their work and demonstrated they could handle complex information. Challenge yourself and practice asking good questions. Learn how to sell yourself to an employer by taking advantage of the faculty around you as a resource of feedback and information. And at the end of the day, do what you love, because that passion will carry over to employers and be your strongest quality when you hit the job market.
Last updated: 6/15/2018