Today I received an official invitation to join the Graduate School Writing Center as a Writing and Oral Communication Fellow, or Writing Fellow for short. I didn’t start the semester expecting this to happen. I didn’t even come here to Maryland with any intention of going this route. But when I saw an announcement a couple of weeks back that a search for new Writing Fellows had commenced and saw that I easily fit the bill, I thought about applying. And as I thought about applying, there was something inside of me calling out to me to do this, a sense that this path was right for me. So I applied.
I wasn’t surprised to be invited to interview. It’s not often a candidate with my credentials comes along. As the Writing Center director told me, occasionally she meets an engineering student with writing skills and/or experience, and even less frequently she’ll encounter an engineering student with a BA in English. But she has never before encountered an applicant who has an engineering background AND a BA in English AND experience working in a writing center. I was a shoe-in for the interview.
That interview was one of the most pleasant ones I had. We talked about questions related to writing and helping others become better writers. My rhetoric and pedagogy muscles got their first good workout in a long time, and it was good to stretch them once more. Looking later at the current Writing Fellows and their disciplines, I can see a great opportunity to build my network within a wide variety of disciplines.
And that brings me back to what impressed my memory the most of the conversation during the interview. The director asked me why I was applying for the position. I responded that I felt the need to expand my network beyond my own discipline. But the way I provided context for that response I did not anticipate or plan. I suddenly spoke of the future of research being more and more interdisciplinary, my future career in academia, and the advantage I could wield in my future career by crossing those disciplinary divisions now.
Obviously I made a good impression because I got offered the position. Now I look ahead. I’ll only be in the Writing Center for 2 or 4 hours each week, so it won’t be a huge distraction from my doctoral research. Plus I’ll get paid for my time, not much but these days every little bit helps. It’s been just over 20 years since I last worked in a writing center, so I’m looking forward to seeing how things have changed in all that time in addition to meeting new people and gaining more practice with skills I’ll certainly need later in my career. But overall I’m excited to be back in that saddle again starting this upcoming fall semester. Piece by piece, I’m putting my future together.
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