Tag Archives: Writing Studies

Multiple People, One Voice

Emily Perez is a senior English major at Millersville University with a concentration in writing studies and a minor in theatre. She enjoys reading, writing, and anything pertaining to sports or outdoor activities. Read more about her recent summer internship below! 

From Left to Right: Sarah Crocker, Emily Perez, Gabrielle Resh, Karen Loftus, Tianna Smith, and Taylor Onkst

Walking into my internship the first day, I didn’t know what was going to be asked of me pertaining to the writing that my boss would want me to produce. Would she want me to write narrative pieces like the ones found on several different travel blogging websites or would she want me to conduct interviews? As a 20-year-old college student who has never traveled very far out of the United States, would I be able to deliver a writing style and voice that matched what a 50-year-old travel writer and expert was looking for? These were the questions that raced through my head when I sat down in front of her the first day of my internship.

After writing for my boss the first time, I found that we had different target audiences in mind which influenced the way I wrote and related to the audience through my tone and style. I had one idea of what the writing on her website should do, and she had a different one. Seeing her as my client, I realized that it didn’t matter if my voice was in it; for a company, the voice has to be unified even if it’s multiple people writing. Thus, I had to learn to be a writing chameleon. So, I learned to write as if I was a traveling expert, as if those that were already traveling were coming to me for fun and witty information. It was through this process that I learned how important it was to be able to adapt to a new writing style and voice.

Taking on the voice of my boss and her company taught me several important lessons throughout the process of my internship. First and foremost, I learned the importance of being a chameleon. In the professional writing industry, especially as a content writer, I would have to write for lots of different clients, each company having their own voice and presence. As a writer, I have to be able to adopt that voice easily and quickly to produce content that matches how that company sounds on a regular basis. This is important because when other people are viewing a company’s content, they can pick up on changes in the writing style which can, in some cases, create problems. For example, imagine each writing piece is a red apple. If one writing piece has a different feel to it, then it would be like a green apple in a line of red apples; it would stand out like sore thumb.

Another lesson learned from the process of taking on someone else’s writing style is that a client changing your writing or asking you to slightly change something is never personal and shouldn’t be taken that way. Again, the client simply wants a unified front for their content and asking for any changes is what they are trying to achieve. Hence, a writer should never take it personally, but should simply try to edit the writing to create the content that the client is looking for.

The last thing that I learned from this process, which goes along with the not taking change personally, is that as writers, we must be open to editing. Editing is a natural part of being a content writer or any type of writer. During the process, a piece can go through several edits and proofing rounds before a client approves it. So, never get upset when your writing is being edited to sound different. Again, this is so the client can achieve their voice and should be seen as a learning process and a chance to really embrace the new voice more fully.

In the end, I realized that through it all, being an English major helped me easily transition into a different type of writing style and voice. Taking tricks from my courses and learning the type of writing that different professors liked, allowed me to easily do that for my internship supervisor at Women’s Adventure Travels. After reading through my boss’s edits, I was able to find the little quirks and word usage that she tended to use in her writing that she was also looking for in the writing that I was producing for her. Overall, as writers and English majors, it is important for us to be able to transition our writing to match that of any company that we are writing for because their publication may be multiple writers, but it should be one voice.

– Emily Perez

(Title Image: John Simpson, Gabrielle Resh, Karen Loftus, Sarah Crocker, Tianna Smith, Taylor Onkst, Jacob Gould, and Emily Perez)


Internship Profile: Anthony Miller

Anthony Miller, a writing studies major with a minor in film, interned at Winding Way Books in Lancaster City. Read more below about Anthony’s experiences working at a bookstore, marketing a business on Facebook, and joining a community of book lovers. Looking for an internship of your own? Visit the ELCM website to learn more about internship opportunities.

Melody Williams and Anthony Miller

Over the course of the 2019 Spring Semester, I took advantage of a unique internship opportunity at Winding Way Books in Downtown Lancaster. Prior to applying for the internship, I’d been into Winding Way’s former location and made several purchases. I was impressed by the store’s wide range of literary classics, sci-fi and fantasy. However, it was among the extensive nonfiction selection that I made my most valuable finds, picking up one of the most relevant books to my education so far, A History of Narrative Film by David A. Cook. As an English major, the bookstore existed as the perfect site for intellectual exploration. Whether they were part of a chain or independently run, bookstores throughout my childhood and young adulthood have forged my reading habits, so I was interested in being behind the scenes creating a similar environment for other readers. Eventually I was connected more closely to Winding Way by a coworker of mine who was friends with the owner, Melody Williams. From there I contacted Melody by email and we scheduled our initial meeting.

Seeing as I was the first ever intern at Winding Way, Mel and I got together to discuss the general expectations and requirements of the internship. From this brainstorming session, I was designated to perform a handful of general tasks: to spread the word about Winding Way and expand its consumer base, sort and shelve books while keeping inventory, supply written content to the official Facebook page to pique customers’ interest in the inventory, and run the cash register and help out customers while Mel was running her endless list of errands for the bookstore.

The first of my obligations was trying to extend the reach of the store across Lancaster, which I attempted in a number of ways. Primarily, Mel had me walk across the city handing out her customized bookmarks, which display the Winding Way contact information and a small map directing people to the new location on Chestnut Street. I was initially nervous about this simple job because of the anxiety imparted by a stranger’s attempt to sell a product or idea. Eventually, however, my nervousness about confrontation subsided in the wake of a number of people’s genuine enthusiasm. Of course I heard more people saying they’d stop in than those that actually did, but every new customer that I recognized from one of those interactions (of which there were a good few) reinvigorated me for the next time I was out on the town with a stack of bookmarks.

The bookmarks were also useful for posting on community boards across the city. From House of Pizza to Farbo Co to coffee shops to burrito joints, I strolled around town, further familiarizing myself with Lancaster, and hoping to further familiarize Lancaster with Winding Way Books. Various small business owners were more than happy to accommodate our advertisements which was inspiring to witness. One employee at Farbo Co even helped clear their community store to accommodate for a bookmark. Admittedly, I was pleasantly surprised to experience such altruistic thinking across store owners and their employees, which seemed to boil down to a basic commitment to helping out other independent businesses.

Although it took me a little time to truly take the advertising/networking portion of the internship by the scruff of the neck, I ultimately overcame the reluctance to confront random people with my “message” about the bookstore’s worth to the community. It helped immensely that I truly believe in the bookstore’s goals as a business so I never had to force myself to mislead or manipulate like a stereotypically cynical salesperson. When I was talking to people about the adventures inherent to Mel’s shelves, I really meant it. Eventually, with my growing awareness of the bookstore’s contents and an easing anxiety concerning street chats, I was able to name specific books that I thought potential customers would be interested in. After talking with one passerby about films and screenplays, he eventually ended up reserving a shooting copy of the script of Firefly, a cult television show.

As someone pursuing a Bachelor’s in English with a concentration in Writing Studies, the written portion of the internship was the segment of my internship that most directly addressed my degree. Early in the internship Mel granted me access to the Winding Way Facebook page, where I was able to respond to customer requests and questions. Primarily though, I used the Notes page to post book reviews, which Mel coined “First Impressions”. Throughout the course of the semester I would select one of the books from an author that I hadn’t heard of before, read the first chapter or two, and write a page long review of the content of the book, trying to describe the distinct merits of the story and the way the story was written.

Depending on the author, I would emphasize different aspects of the work’s overall impact. Thomas Pynchon for instance, inherited a cult reputation due to long, zany phrases peppered with  pop culture and obscure vocabulary; therefore, I focused on his unique compositional style because that seemed to be the defining characteristic of his literature. Zora Neale Hurston on the other hand was more known for her contributions to African American literature, writing dialogue for her characters that felt directly recorded from her experiences; therefore I expressed her monumental influence on other black writers in their efforts to seize back the narrative of their people from racist whites. These First Impressions gave me an opportunity to advance my writing by forcing me to interact with new writing, consider its context and composition, and articulate it in a measured, accessible manner.

One of the best parts of this experience was feeling like part of a community. A bookstore community is diverse, consisting of lone drifters, couples hanging out, flocks of friends, and families out for the day. The variety of people within these categories is impossible to comprehensively explore. Just as any particular piece of writing eludes categorization, so does any person seeking one out. Despite the diversity characters stopping by Winding Way, they were all brought into the bookstore by the same thing that brought me into the English major in the first place: a love of getting lost in the written word. Because of this central similarity, I was able to connect with almost everybody. I’ve traded both short anecdotes and long detailed monologues about what I’ve read, what I love to read, and what I plan to read next. Although bookworms are stereotyped as introverted and shy, I’ve had many animated discussions with the people at Winding Way. Although I love my private headspace, bridging the gap between two minds is a fulfilling experience. There was no shortage of interesting bridges built over the course of this internship. One afternoon I was talking to an aspiring writer in the bookstore for about an hour as she explained her conversion to Buddhism, ultimately recommending a book from our spirituality section.

Everybody that I remember walking in were patient, kind and curious. Some came in knowing exactly what they wanted. Others were just interested in exploring the space for a moment or two. A bookstore is the only place I can think of where browsing and not buying is an activity in and of itself. To briefly dip your toes into various articulations of art, science and history is an experience offered by few other business models. I tried to take that opportunity whenever I had the chance.

Overall, my internship at Winding Way Books was an educational experience that made a prominent mark on me. Not only was I able to make intellectual explorations by engaging with a vast catalogue of art and knowledge, I was also able to explore socially by mingling with outsiders to the bookstore, and more enjoyably, insiders. In addition, my writing became stronger by virtue of my increased exposure to good writing and my efforts to explain its goodness through short, concise reviews. I would recommend this internship to any English student at Millersville who is looking to expand their literary palette while also increasing their familiarity with downtown Lancaster.

-Anthony Miller 

Internship Profile: Digital Marketing

English major Kyle Steffish worked for Nxtbook Media in downtown Lancaster this semester as the digital marketing intern. Read more about his experiences below! 

As English majors, we have an opportunity to craft a strong and varied skill set. We build skills in writing, grammar, editing, analysis, critical thinking, rhetoric – the list could go on, but you get the point.

Many of us choose to earn an English degree in the hopes of becoming professional writers, editors, or educators. However, while those are career paths many English majors might pursue – and are certainly apt to fill – they are far from the only fields we might find ourselves in.

As an example, I’d like to share my experience as a digital marketing intern with you. Hopefully, if you’re unsure of what you’re going to do after you graduate, by sharing my experience you may end up with a few ideas of your own.

Since January, I’ve had the opportunity to work as a digital marketing intern for Nxtbook Media in downtown Lancaster. At Nxtbook, I’ve worked on a number of content, social media, and digital marketing projects. For example, I’ve written several case studies highlighting the work Nxtbook has done with some of their clients – one such case focused on their work with Norwegian Cruise Lines. I’ve also had the opportunity to write a series of blog articles showcasing innovative brands, like IKEA and Airbnb, and how they’ve used storytelling to really stand-out from their competitors.

Kyle Steffish wrote many case studies for Nxtbook Media as he worked as their digital marketing intern.

Along with these projects, I’ve had an opportunity to learn a lot about marketing strategy, SEO, and data analytics, among plenty of other things. Although I have a minor in management, I had zero formal marketing education or experience before the internship. I’ve done all of this with the nothing more than the skills I’ve built as an English major.

Whether your interests lie in literature, rhetoric, or composition, you’ve amassed similar skills that are applicable in fields and careers you might never have imagined working in. Marketing, for example, focuses primarily on the process of selling a product or service to a customer.

This might sound like it has little to nothing in common with studying English – especially when phrases like analytics and target market demographics are thrown around. Yet these are concepts English majors are already familiar with, only in other words.

As writers, rhetoricians, and critical thinkers, we do so much of this already. When you think about your audience and your purpose as you write an essay or an analysis, you’re likely asking yourself many of the same questions marketers consider when thinking of a new email or social media campaign.

Questions like: is my voice appropriate for the readers I’m addressing? Will my readers understand my language or my signaling? Am I being too formal? Too informal? Again, whether you’re analyzing Shakespeare, conducting a rhetorical analysis, writing a poem, or writing copy for a new email drip campaign, these are the questions you ask. And there are still more transferable skills you’ve learned.

When you toil over organization, structure, and paragraphing of a paper, you’re thinking in the same way a content marketer thinks about user experience, readability, and, in many ways, SEO. When you ask yourself, does this structure feel right for a research essay? Or, does my organization make sense for this type of argument? You’re asking yourself the same questions a copywriter or content marketer asks when considering the layout of a blog article or how to structure a white paper.

As I’ve gained experience at my internship, these were some of the ways I’ve applied my English education in a field, less than two years ago, I hadn’t given much thought. I share this with you now, because it’s easy to bottleneck an English education into only a few careers. The perception for some people is you’re an English major because you really like books or you want to be a teacher. Yet we know this is incredibly untrue.

An English degree provides students with a rich, versatile skill set that is right at home in a variety of careers, like, as I’ve discovered, in marketing and copywriting. So, if you’re not sure what you’d like to do, or of all the things you can do with an English education, I encourage you to try new things. Take an internship in marketing or copywriting. Try your hand at digital content creation. Take a leap and branch out into other creative fields and industries. Your education has prepared you for a multitude of paths to travel.

Kyle Steffish

Writing Summit 2017

What Happens after Freshmen Composition: A Writing Summit Focused on Transfer

Our goal for first-year composition, like the field’s collective goal, is to help writers develop and prepare students for the writing they will do in other college courses.

~Kathleen Blake Yancey, Liane Robertson, and Kara Taczak

On February 10th, 2017 the English Department held a Writing Summit to discuss and share approaches to teaching writing with the Millersville University community. For an ambitious first goal, we engaged with the question of transfer – how can freshmen composition support writing practices transfer to help students excel at writing tasks in their disciplinary courses?

The idea for this event began after a Spring 2016 Writing Across the Curriculum survey found that most disciplinary faculty feel students are underprepared for W courses. To address these findings, Writing Studies held a Writing Roundtable sponsored by the Center for Academic Excellence Fall 2016. This well-attended Roundtable provided space for disciplinary faculty to discuss the writing needs of students, especially in upper level writing courses.

To further this conversation, Kara Taczak, whose co-authored work Writing Across Contexts: Transfer, Composition, and Sites of Writing earned a 2015 CCCC Research Impact Award, shared her work on Teaching for Transfer as the keynote speaker at the Spring 2017 Convocation. She then furthered her discussion of key writing studies terms during the first workshop of the Writing Summit. Following her discussion Drs. Farkas, Archibald, Mano, Halden-Sullivan, Corkery, and Pfannenstiel worked with faculty to develop assignments to support students at Millersville University.

Each of the Roundtable Workshops offered suggestions for introducing assignments, discussing assignments, and working with student drafts to help faculty support writing within their courses. For all presenters, the goal was to assist faculty using writing assignments with helping students recognize their prior knowledge. These workshops generated amazing conversation about ways of helping students recognize writing situations. We discussed ways of helping students reflect on their previous learning – of the writing practices they developed in freshmen composition and other writing courses.

Dr. Taczak’s workshop pushed us to consider how to help students develop strong theories of writing, recognizing their prior knowledge that would actually support their academic writing during college.

Dr. Farkas built on that idea emphasizing key terms from her Transportable Writing Tool text that resonate with students at Millersville. Dr. Archibald explained the ways the Chryst Writing Center supports writing theory development, especially when students begin attending as soon as a writing assignment has been assigned. Dr. Mando discussed ways key terms from Teaching for Transfer in combination with science key terms can help STEM majors develop strong theories of writing that support science writing. Dr. Halden-Sulliven explored ways of helping students devel

Writing Example
Students Deja Scott, Heidi Furman and Cindy Sanchez designed a working definition of the Rhetorical Situation to support their writing development in Pfannenstiel’s ENGL 110 Spring 2017.

op an open mindset to support exploration and writing. Dr. Pfannenstiel provided ideas for incorporating digital writing assignments. Dr. Corkery described ways of helping students imitate disciplinary writing style. For each of us, the goal is to help students know which prior writing practices would best support their writing for a given writing task, to help students develop their own theories of writing. Discussing and implementing assignments that support a naturalized transfer of strong composition practices is just one way of supporting student writing on our campus.

As we move forward from this great event with new ideas and discussions, we’ll continue to consider how to develop strong curriculum to support writing practices transfer. I am developing a freshman composition curriculum that draws on the principles of Teaching for Transfer attending to the specific needs of Millersville students. As Dr. Mando and I explore this focus on key words to support student development of their own theory of writing, we’ll also help students develop multimodal practices to further support good writing. We continue to address the question that influenced the Writing Summit design, can freshmen composition help students recognize their own writing practices so they are more effective disciplinary writers.

We also recognize the need for this to be a collective effort. As a community, we must recognize writing as a practice, as ways of thinking and being that must be practiced regularly to help students attend to each writing situation they encounter. Strengthening students control over their own theory of writing in Freshmen Composition is just a first step to supporting and graduating strong writers from all our bachelor’s degree programs. We are excited for the possibilities and welcome the challenges that lie ahead!

—-Dr. A. Nicole Pfannenstiel, Assistant Professor of Digital Media