This spring, I taught a terrific group of students Corporate Public Relations and Public Relations Writing, and I learned what I didn't know about what they didn't know. I learned a lot. So, here's four quick pieces of advice for the college student or new graduate:
*Learn how to write a professional business letter
*Learn how to write a professional business memo
*Learn how to write a professional business email.
This is about writing clear, concise, focused, grammatically-correct, proofed works -- based on your own ideas and insights. It's about knowing how to present oneself in writing as a professional. It's about being able to say with confidence that you know how to write and think critically about an issue.
Yes, there is a place for five-page essays and 10-page research papers. I'm a former English student and a recent MFA graduate in Creative Writing, how could I think critical papers were not important?
However, with 20 years plus of experience in Corporate America, I also know most adults will never write an essay. But they will write an one-page letter, a memo or email.
Our fast-moving, 21st century society is about making the complicated less complicated -- and that often means being able to summarize and distill ideas into shorter works, especially for professional organizations. Those "shorter works" are often letters, memos or emails. Learn how to write them well and you will go far.
I promised four pieces of advice:
*Learn basic business interaction -i.e. how to stand up straight, look someone in the eye, have a solid handshake- and talk in a sincere, thoughtful manner that says: I care, I want to be part of what you're part of and I plan to work hard at it today and each day that I am employed here. (Leave out these phrases: "whatever," "like," "don't know," "you know," and so many more along those lines that scream: I seem to be having trouble holding a professional conversation).
Maybe this is all old fashioned -- I mean, we have spell check and grammar check, we text vs. talk, we connect via social media, but I strongly believe that the lack of basic professional writing and oral skills is what leads so many in business to believe that young people aren't entering the workforce prepared. And we, teachers, as well as parents, should be instilling these skills.
One last thought:
A terrific website -- sponsored by the U.S. Department of Labor -- on careers and career-building is www.onetoline.org.
Congratulations to the class of 2012!!
Truly, the author of LIE
Yes, a novel.
Buy and read.