Presentation Voting

As we discussed, in class, you must vote on our final presentation project. Head over to Lauren’s blog to cast your vote. If you’d like to argue for one assignment over the others (or against a particular option), please do so in the comments. Please argue and cast your vote by the end of this week (so before 11:59 p.m. on Saturday).

Whichever suggestion gets the most votes will likely be your final presentation assignment. Please check the class blog before your conference for more specific guidelines. Remember that you need to bring ideas for your presentation, plus goals for the rest of the course, to your meeting with me. 


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Reminder: Job Shadow Project Guidelines

WPC Job Shadow Project
Due Wednesday, March 6, hardcopy in class

“How am I supposed to know about a culture I’m not already in?”

That’s the question many new graduates have when applying for that first post-college job, or when listening to career counselors speak about “knowing your field.” If you aren’t yet in a career path, how will you know the right things to say, the people to know?

This project is an opportunity for you to gain entry into your prospective field, or to learn about a career you are interested in. It’s also a chance to network.

Your assignment is to interview a person who has a job you’d like someday and find out just what it is s/he does. This project is predicated on a face-to-face meeting with this person so you can learn not just procedural information, but also see what his/her office looks like, how the person acts in said work environment and how you react to the work place. If you can follow the person for a part or the entirety of their workday, that would be ideal.

You will develop a list of questions to ask this person. See the class blog for tips on interviewing, in addition to the advice in your textbook. Keep in mind you may want to give your subject the list of questions ahead of time so s/he can prepare. (I am also happy to look at your questions beforehand and offer suggestions—just ask!) What you’ll find more and more is that everyone is busy, no matter what their job, so do as much as you can to help this person help you. Arrange this meeting with plenty of notice so you can meet the due date.

What your paper MUST have:

  • The person’s name, place of work and position in the company—the basics
  • A detailed and critical description of the place itself
  • Some sort of explanation of the job
  • Your perspective on what you observed
  • At least two sources beyond your interview contact that contextualize the job, the company, the field, etc.
  • A separate sheet that lists the times you visited and the person’s contact information
  • Been proofread

Your paper should be 5 pages in length (approx. 1500 words), double-spaced, 12-pt. font, 1 inch margins. Use APA style for formatting and citing your sources.

The way you organize and present this paper is up to you. The only format I will not accept is a transcript of your interview; there’s not enough room to show critical thinking in that context. You should be reflective and critical about your experience, not simply saying that it was “great” or “unexpected,” but show that you’ve thought about what it means to enter a career culture and what you might need to do to join that group. If the job is somehow related to your major here at Pitt, what did you think about the workplace application of your education? Are you prepared to enter that world? What might you need to do or learn? How can you further prepare for that career?


What you will be graded on:

  • Did you explain the job—a typical day, main responsibilities, annoyances and great parts?
  • Did you characterize the person you interviewed?
  • Did you describe the place in such a way that is telling of the atmosphere and so that your readers can picture it?
  • Did you explain the job in context of your studies or what you already know about the field?
  • Did you reference at least two academic, governmental or other reputable sources (NOT Wikipedia) to help contextualize the job in the wider world?
  • Have you spoken from your perspective? What did you expect? What surprised you? What did you leave excited (or upset) about?
  • Did you address how this experience might affect future actions toward your career goals?
  • Is the paper proofread, in APA style and error free?
  • Did you avoid interview format and craft a standalone, interesting piece of writing for an audience beyond this class?
  • Did you include a separate sheet detailing when you visited your subject and his/her contact information?
  • Did you post an excerpt of your project to your blog, if relevant? This does NOT count as a regular blog post.)

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Peer Blog Evaluation Assignment, due 3/1

You must:

  • Format your evaluation in the style of a memo.
  • Characterize the blog as you experience it. What do you see as its overall tone? How does the writer address his/her readers? Would you suggest the writer adjust his/ her approach to the subject or audience?
  • Be written with with attention to tone. That means you follow the textbook’s guidelines for sensitive messages, couching the negative and avoid attacking or being rude to the recipient.
  • Reference and critique at least one post and one comment specifically – that means including quotations and/or direct references with useful analysis.
  • Provide both positive and negative feedback.
  • Provide critique on the design of the blog itself – things like color and layout, but also elements the blog could use, for instance, a more thorough “About” page, a calendar, a category cloud, etc.
  • Make actionable suggestions.
  • Proofread. More than 3 typos in your evaluation will result in a D on the assignment.
  • Be no more than 1,000 words (excluding the header)
  • Email your memo to your group member and cc me (use the robynjodlowski [at] address) no later than 9 p.m. on Friday, March 1. You may send it in the body of the email or as an attachment. You are responsible for ensuring the attachment works and will open.

An “A” evaluation has all of the “B” and “C” elements. The memo is thorough, includes several specific critiques, is helpful to the recipient in a practical way, organized in a logical and rhetorically effective manner, and is an engaging, direct, professional-sounding document (i.e. not read like a list of answers to the above bulleted requirements). It makes use of formatting options. It goes beyond the assignment guidelines, perhaps suggesting comparable websites or supporting research for its claims. In other words, it reads like a real-world document that the author has invested time into.

A “B” evaluation has all of the “C” elements, and offers thoughtful insights about the blog under discussion, referencing specific examples. The tone may fluctuate but mostly stays appropriate for sensitive messages.

A “C” evaluation is in proper memo format and follows all of the above bulleted guidelines. It offers comments and advice, but in vague or unclear way (e.g. “This post is pretty good.” or “I like the color scheme.” A more specific, A- or B-level critique would be: “The white background feels clean, which is logical since you’re writing about food safety. Though I find the orange font bright, I wonder if it’s too hard on some readers’ eyes.”). The memo covers all major critiques and praiseworthy elements, but perhaps skims over some of the more nuanced potential suggestions.

A “D” is in the wrong format, not proofread, late, or in some way incomplete.

As a reminder: no blog post or comments are due this Friday.

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Wednesday’s (2/20) Assignment and Cover Letter Info

For Wednesday, please research the company you’ve written your resume (and will write your cover letter) for. Research the size of the company, how long they’ve been around, who’s in charge, who might be the hiring manager, what kinds of awards or industry accolades the company has received, any other locations, etc. Think about audience and purpose, as your chapter for this week suggests. The point here is to define and understand your audience for your job documents.

Do a short write up/profile of the company and bring it to class on Wednesday because we’ll be working with the info in class. You will hand this document in with your cover letter on Friday.

To clarify your cover letter assignment: the resume you handed in last week and this week’s cover letter MUST be for the same job posting and must work together like a real application packet would. The CL should be in proper letter format, no more than one page, and tailored to both the job posting you selected last week AND to highlight or compensate for information on your resume.

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Blog Notes & Resume Info

First off:

If you notice a comment from engwrt0610 on your blog, that’s me. I initially created my account for another course and am maintaining the username.


For your resume assignment this week, you MUST tailor your 1 page document to an actual job posting. (Check your textbook for suggestions on sites and job listings.)

Please include the job posting text and any relevant information about the company/organization with your resume. You also need to hand in your “master” list. You will hand in everything, in hard copy, to me on Friday.

If I find ANY typos on your resume, you will fail the assignment, just like HR would (probably) toss your application.

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Letter/Email Suggestions

The point of this assignment is to practice these formats in a setting outside the classroom. You should write about something you’re passionate about, or at least have marginal interest in. Pick a particular issue, a specific bit of praise, a detailed response to a news article. Keep in mind our discussion and critiques about the Amnesty International letter as you draft.


  • Complaint/praise to a company (check the label for “suggestions” or “complaints” information or google them and find contact info on their website)
  • Letter about a pet issue to the governor, senators, president, mayor or other public official (here’s one database with more options)
  • Write to a soldier (one site that aids in this)
  • Letter to the editor at the Post-Gazette or other newspaper of your choice
  • Fan letter to your favorite author, artist, actor, etc. (most have fan sites or contact information easily findable)

Let’s say a word count of around 500 words. Your letter or email should follow proper formatting and conventions set forth in your textbook. You’ll turn in a hardcopy draft to me in class on Friday (2/1), and I’ll add my comments. By the following Wednesday (2/6), you must revise your draft and mail (give me the addressed, sealed, stamped envelope in class) or email (bcc me) it to get credit for the assignment.

If you get a response or get published, do let the class know!

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Citing Sources

As your textbook mentions, there are lots of ways to indicate where information comes from in your writing. The main academic ways are APA and MLA style.

Let’s use one example to highlight the differences. Thomas Friedman recently wrote an op-ed about online education in universities. What if we wanted to use information from his article in an academic paper?


Used mostly in the sciences. Emphasis is on author and date (Smith, 2007, p. 34) in text. On the References page, the source looks like this:

Friedman, T. (2013, January 26). Revolution hits the universities. The New York Times. Retrieved from

Note: your References page would use hanging indents for the source (where the first line “sticks out” and the rest of the lines are tabbed in. WordPress doesn’t easily allow for this concept to be represented). Likewise for MLA.


Used mostly in the humanities. Emphasis in text put on author and page number (Smith 34) in text. On the Works Cited page, the source looks like this:

Friedman, Thomas L. “Revolution Hits the Universities.” The New York Times, 27 Jan. 2013. Web. 28 Jan. 2013.

Notice the differences: capitalization differs, order differs, use of italics differs. Online citation generators, while useful, won’t necessarily catch these mistakes, so make sure you double-check your citations.

Non-Academic Styles

There are also other ways to cite a source, especially when we’re considering online writing.

You can use links in-text (like I did above as well):

According to a recent article, Friedman says he “can see a day soon where you’ll create your own college degree by taking the best online courses from the best professors from around the world.”

You can use a “Sources” list at the end:

[Main Text]


You can use footnotes + a source list:

[Main Text with reference to source.(1)]



Or, you can do a kind of hybrid academic-casual citation system where you write as usual in APA or MLA and provide a Works Cited or References section at the end to maintain a more “academic” feel to your text:

APA: The author says he “can see a day soon where you’ll create your own college degree by taking the best online courses from the best professors from around the world” (Friedman, 2013).


Friedman, T. (2013, January 26). Revolution hits the universities. The New York Times. Retrieved from

MLA: The author says he “can see a day soon where you’ll create your own college degree by taking the best online courses from the best professors from around the world” (Friedman).

Works Cited:

Friedman, Thomas L. “Revolution Hits the Universities.” The New York Times, 27 Jan. 2013. Web. 28 Jan. 2013.

Of course, some websites don’t cite their sources at all. Bad idea! You gain reader trust, and often better comments, if you allow your audience to see where you’re getting your information. The way you choose to display your sources can subtly alter reader perceptions of you and your site.

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Filed under Sources