Back 2 Bloggin’

Hey, Capstone People! My name is Caroline Rafferty, and I couldn’t be more excited about writing posts on the Sweetland Blog again. After looking back at my last post from the Gateway (in December of 2015…yikes) I felt inspired to dust off the cobwebs and get to writing! However, after sitting at my laptop for 20 minutes without writing a single word, I realized that getting back into the swing of things was easier said than done.

When I first heard about Mini Assignment 1, I had no idea what Julie meant by the term “writing communities” and feared that perhaps I had never been part of one. It wasn’t until I started reading Hunter & Ketter’s case study that I discovered that I have been part of different writing communities pretty much since I learned how to form coherent thoughts and put pen to paper.

Most obviously, I do a lot of academic writing and shared Erin Peterson’s sentiment of academic writing as “constraining and formulaic,” excluding the Minor in Writing’s classes, of course. I’ve always fought against the idea that essays must have an introduction, three body paragraphs, and a conclusion. I felt that this strict structure left little room for creative license and showcasing a writer’s voice–two aspects I believe distinguish great writers from good writers. While I recognize that much of the purpose around academic writing, such as research papers and theses, are to communicate an idea and argue its importance to a field of study, it makes me wonder: why must there be such a distinct (perceived?) difference between academic writing and creative writing?

This question brings me to another writing community I belong to that I feel lets my creative juices flow a bit more freely–and even pays me! For close to two years, I’ve managed the blog of a startup company in Chicago. In addition to writing blog posts, I have the privilege of reading my coworker’s posts and offering some suggestions for how to take their writing to the next level. I remember one of my high school English teacher’s telling me how important the peer editing process is for making oneself a better writer, and this has definitely held true in my professional writing community. Though I still rely on my boss’s input for the pieces I write, he gives me a lot of creative license to write what I want in any form or style I choose. This freedom has made me view my professional writing community in a much more positive light than my academic writing community, which I will say is a bit upsetting. I wish that more academic institutions recognized the importance of creativity in a writer’s process. I’m sure if I had the ability to write what I want in any way I want that my view of academia would transform from one of disappointment to one of inspiration.

While I initially struggled to recognize the writing communities I am part of, I found that reading about Erin Peterson’s communities and the boundaries existing between the two of them helped me distinguish my writing communities. However, I still have lingering questions about why the case study only discusses being part of two communities. Personally, I think that every individual is involved in at least two, but I’m sure many people are involved with many more than that. I would be interested to see if any of you had the same question, and I look forward to reading about everyone else’s writing communities.

Blog 13: Resurrected From the Dead

I’m back beeeetches!! You know you love me. XOXO, Gossip Girl. Sorry if you weren’t an annoying 13 year old girl obsessing over Nate Archibald and wishing you were Serena Van Der Woodsen for a good portion of your early teenage years like I shamefully was, but if you were you’ll get that reference, and if you weren’t, again, I apologize. Can’t you tell from my blog posts how much I hate pop culture? (Sarcasm). Anyway, I’m back because I awkwardly thought the last blog post was the last of the last, but it turns out I have one final chance to spew my thoughts and hope maybe someone finds me somewhat entertaining/insightful, so here goes nothing.

My ePortfolio looks like my personality threw up all over it. (Check it out my puked personality—> here.) I just made that sound super disgusting for no reason, but it’s true. It’s honestly comical that I went into the creating the ePortfolio with the intention if somewhat keeping my personality out of it, but somehow my personality literally catapulted itself onto every single page of that ePortfolio. Look, I’m not unhappy it happened, but I definitely didn’t strive to have my personality come through as much as it did, although it definitely gives you a sense of who I am. While the personality adds something to it, I was originally a little afraid that it may come off as unprofessional, but I don’t think that’s entirely the case. It’s pretty vibrant, but I think it’s also clean and it lays out all of my work within the course and beyond. I could always toy with making it a bit more subdued when I attempt to use it for purposes beyond this course.

I think the hardest part of this was the necessary reflection pieces. I felt like we had spent so long dissecting each of these projects over the term, and I was hesitant to go back again and reflect on what I had done. However, once I started writing, this task proved to be much less daunting. In fact, it turned out to be pretty simple. Since we had taken so much time on each of these projects, it was fairly easy for me to reflect on all the work and effort I had put into each piece, and it wasn’t as tedious as I had originally presumed it would be.

Well, that about does it. I can’t believe this class is over, and I’m just realizing how much I’m for sure going to miss it next semester. Like they always say, you don’t know what you have until it’s gone- and with this class making it’s way from my active drawer on Canvas into the archived section (note I said Canvas, not CTools- can’t wait to see how that switch goes for all the courses next semester), I’m starting to get a sense that I’ll soon know this course was really something when it’s no longer here.

 

The Story of a Girl in the Professional World

My project’s topic consists of how young professional women today continue to face adversity in the work place, different yet too familiar of the discrimination faced in the Mad Men era. My original writing was an op-ed piece about my own personal experience interning at a technology firm juxtaposed with the issues presented on AMC’s show Mad Men. I plan to re-purpose this into a creative story that conveys the view point of a young professional woman today to the viewpoint of Peggy Olson and Joan Holloway from Mad Men.

In my search for writing in various genres on this topic, I came across many different rhetorical situations, ranging from op-ed to “how-to” and an article that speaks directly to the employers of tech companies.

First up: The Mad Men Woman of Today: The Next Chapter

Published in the Forbes Woman section of Forbes, this article reaches out to a narrow audience of women who work in the business world. The piece’s exigence surrounds the season finale of Mad Men and how women today should see the end of the show as an opportunity to pay homage to the primary female characters, Peggy Olson and Joan Holloway. It eloquently combined statistics of the Mad Men era with statistics of today, illustrating how much women have succeeded but how much more room there is for improvement.

I think my only critique of this piece was how limited its goals were. Why not publish this for men and women to see? After all, men and women both watch the show. Furthermore, the piece talks about women leaving traditional men-centered cultural businesses for entrepreneurial ventures. Why don’t we encourage women to spark a change within the organization they already work for? There is room for entrepreneurship of thought and culture within an already established company.

Second: Oink Oink: When you Work with Sexist Pigs

I have to say, I do appreciate this title. It perfectly describes some of the men I worked with at my internship over the summer. This post included a user’s story of sexism in their workplace, and how to best deal with that situation. Long story short, this woman had to deal with actual pigs. Here’s an excerpt:

“Most of the men (five out of six) started discussing which women in the sales department they’d like to sleep with, joking about planting webcams in the women’s bathroom, responding to advice I suggested about a software problem with “Oh, but you’re a woman, so you don’t know anything about computers, am I right?””

ARE YOU SERIOUS? At least, that was my initial reaction. This blatantly misogynistic behavior is completely unacceptable. But… is it? Many readers suggested to A) Get away, B) Grin and Bear it, or C) Leave the company. I don’t know about you, but I would select option D) None of the above! Why should you satisfy these men by doing any of these options, especially leaving the company? In my perspective, they are in the wrong here, not you. If anything, they should be reprimanded while you are admired for working to create an open-minded, ethical and diverse culture.

Last but not least: Fixing the Leaky Bucket: What Tech Companies Must Do to Retain Their Best Female Talent

This article, published in The Huffington Post, speaks directly to employers and recruiters at tech companies. It speaks to the need for more diversity, specifically more women, in the tech industry. One excerpt that really resonated with me was:

“Women are leaving the tech industry because they feel unfulfilled and unsupported. (And Silicon Valley’s reputation as a boys network endures, as underscored by the recent news of a “Twitter Frat House” party held while the company was contending with a gender-discrimination lawsuit.) No amount of energy dedicated to hiring more women makes a difference in company cultures when current female employees slip through the cracks.”

This passage could not be more true regarding my personal experience in the tech industry. Believe it or not, when sitting in on an interview as an intern, fellow colleagues described the company’s culture as a “Frat House.” So don’t be too quick to judge that Twitter is the only company with these gender discrimination issues. If a company’s culture truly resembles that of a frat house, it does not matter how hard recruiters work to hire women. Those women will come, and then they will leave. As soon as possible. The article really drives this point home in the last paragraph:

“But without a culture that supports women and responds to their legitimate needs – one that encourages them to not only remain but fosters their growth as employees – these efforts are essentially pointless. Rather than putting all of our water into the recruitment bucket, those cultural problems first need fixing if we are to prevent the further loss of key talent at any company. “

This article echoed all of the issues I encountered as a female intern at a tech start-up. Before hiring women, the root of a company’s problem is its diversity and culture. I think this article will help me understand the key audience I am trying to address in my project as well as the points to drive home in terms of various demographics. For example, it needs to be apparent to males in the tech industry that women are vital to success, and success is vital to them receiving a high paycheck – which according to this article, is the 3rd most important reason that they stay at a company. On the other hand, women valued satisfaction in their current role and honest communication. Understanding these key statistics will help me cater my creative story to reach audiences personally and professionally.

Peace. Love. Peggy Olson.

peggy olson

 

E-Portfolio Struggles

In beginning to think about my eportfolio, its design, its purpose, its audience, and everything related to this project, I am struggling. At first, I wanted to create an eportfolio that was centered on the idea of telling a story about my life. I planned to find a theme on WordPress that looked almost like a journal or even a notebook or looseleaf paper. I wanted to use my pieces about my childhood and how my passion for writing emerged at a very young age to tell a chronological story about my life and my identity as a writer. The more I surfed around on WordPress, and thought about this project, the more difficult I realized this wold be. Although my “Why I Write” essay is centered on a more chronological-based story of my life as a developing writer, my other pieces for this class are completely unrelated (they actually have to do with salsa, the food!). How was I going to tell a story about myself and my life as a writer through just one piece?

I then considered completely shifting the focus of my eportfolio, and giving it a more professional look. I realized I could use this portfolio as a basis for when I graduate college, and could keep adding my writing pieces to it to ultimately show to employers. This would be a good use of my time in the minor, wouldn’t it? After speaking with a friend in the minor who has completed the gateway course, however, she reassured me that her portfolio was not professionally-based. She said hers was personal, which made the assignment special and meaningful for her. She told me that creating a professional portfolio did not fit her writing pieces, as they were more so creative, which is how I feel about my pieces as well.

This then gave me the confidence to reconsider all of my options. I think I might scratch the “notebook/journal/story” idea, and try to find a happy-medium. I may choose a more general idea to center my portfolio on, such as my passion for writing on the whole, and title my portfolio “A girl with a passion” (or something along those lines). I have come to the conclusion that I definitely want to express my personal side through my blog. I guess I will worry about the professional aspect of my portfolio later in life!

girl-struggling

Repurposing Assignment

For my Repurposing an Argument assignment, I have decided to take a series of blog posts I wrote the summer after my freshman year of college. I was working at a publishing company in place of a woman on maternity leave. While I was perfectly capable of performing the job efficiently, I was often laughed at or treated much younger than my colleagues (of which I was 10 years younger than at least.) However, I wanted to be taken seriously.

So I decided to focus on how to be a young professional, and I began a blog about it. I’d like to take these blog posts and turn it into a magazine spread for kids our age (college aged, 20 somethings) about being a young professional. I think the magazine article will be a good way to repurpose the blog which was purely for myself.

However, I am looking ahead and thinking how I will remediate my argument. I was trying to think of new mediums it could be expressed on. A pamphlet? A presentation? Possibly an advice Twitter account?

If you have any ideas, please comment!