New writing minor gives students practical experience with companies

Written by: 
Leslie Owusu

The Professional Writing Minor gives students the knowledge and skills to write professional documents, letters, memos, emails, and to learn how to polish their resumes and write professionally for social media, said Dr. Ban Phung, associate professor of English.

This Fall 2016 Semester marked the commencement of the minor, which is open to all majors. Phung said, “The Professional Writing Minor isn’t only for business students. It’s really for every single major across campus. Professional writing is anytime you have to communicate in a work setting and you need to get your ideas across concisely and clearly.”

Jahn Wang, a graduate from China who majored in accounting, took the Technical Writing (ENGL 316) class with Phung in Fall 2016. He said, “To me, one word to conclude this course is practical. Phung doesn’t teach us anything we won’t use in our future career.

“I’m now applying for graduate school and what I’ve learned from this class is how to write a request for a recommendation letter and how to polish our resumes. I will definitely use it in my future career.”

Phung said this minor helps students gain skills in professional writing, grammar, style, usage, formatting, organization, and other factors. Students practice these skills in the various documents and can then apply it to real life situations.

Phung said he was teaching Business Communications in the Business Management Department for seven years and then I realized how important it was to write professionally. Whether its for business, healthcare, education, or non-profit - it really doesn’t matter what profession. This need for our students to communicate in a professional way is critical.

“I wanted to cast a wider net and give this opportunity to all majors. So that’s where the Professional Writing Minor came in,” said Phung. “It doesn’t matter what field they are in, they are going to have to learn how to communicate professionally.” He said employers have a need for employees to be able to write professionally.

Mark Valdez, a junior from Ohio majoring in psychology and minoring in professional writing, said his class worked with a CEO based in Phoenix through a video conference. “This is something we can put on our resumes: we actually worked with a CEO based in Phoenix for a real estate company. We looked over his website and helped him rearrange some of the wording and made everything more concise and clear.”

The minor is 17 credits and includes 14 required classes: ENGL 316, 330, 331, 332, 491. “ENGL 316 is Technical Writing. It’s offered every single semester and looks at writing specific information for the general audience: brochures, manuals, training guides and things like that.

“ENGL 330 is Writing for the Professions. This is the introduction to professional writing. That covers memos, emails, reports, and general professional documents, so you know how to write letters.

“ENGL 331 is Professional Career Writing. It follows the National Resume Writers Association, which is an international organization that sets the standard with anything that has to do with career writings: resumes, cover letters, LinkedIn profiles, branding strategies, and even interviewing skills.

“ENGL 332 is Writing for Social Media. You can’t do professional writing in today’s day and age without understanding how to blog, understanding professional Facebook pages, or understanding the writing skills necessary for social media.

“Then there are a number of electives you can choose from different departments.” Phung said, “And then finally this professional writing minor culminates in the writing practicum (ENGL 491), which is essentially an internship where we pair you up with a real company that works on writing projects for the real world and you get to be a part of their team. It ranges from real estate to finance to healthcare.”

Azzaya Baasanbat, a junior TESOL major from Mongolia minoring in professional writing, said, “I’m not going to be a professional writer and earn money, but for me I just wanted to improve my English… I decided to minor in this because it has a really cool purpose. It is a great opportunity for college students to have real skills that will benefit them in their future career.”

Valdez said, “I wanted [to take this minor] to prepare me for law school, because this class helps with critical thinking and writing and making sure you can support ideas concisely and clearly.”

Phung said if there are any students on the fence about taking this minor, he would ask them, “When is the last time you wrote something that you actually used in real life?”

He continued, “Since our mission at BYUH is to be educated here and then go out to the world to not only serve but to build their own communities and be leaders in various fields, you have to learn how to communicate effectively in any organization you are going to work for. Whether your goal is to go to grad school, or to be employed in a company. All of those efforts require some sort of effective communication.”

Wang said he didn’t earn the minor because he graduated in Winter 2017. “But if I had the time, then I definitely would have minored in it. It will help me a lot with professional English writing,” he said.

Date Published: 
Wednesday, March 8, 2017
Last Edited: 
Wednesday, March 8, 2017