As intersession draws to a close, so too do the work placements for eight Arts students here at Memorial. These students are participants in the diploma in professional writing (DPW) program, one of the diploma programs within the Faculty of Arts.
The DPW is a 24-credit-hour-long program, which offers courses ranging from advanced editing to reviewing, investigative writing to satirical writing. After completing the class material, students participate in a work placement as interns with various hosts throughout the city, where they are given the opportunity to apply their classroom knowledge, and explore new methods of writing and develop their skills.
“There was a perceived need for a program like this,” says program coordinator Shane O’Dea, of the DPW, which began three years ago. “We do not have a journalism program, and we do have a fair number of students who do go into journalism or professional writing type fields. ... This [program] enabled a sharpening of those skills.”
This program is able to bridge the gap between course work and the professional world through work experience with publishers, broadcasters and other media, offering intriguing opportunities for young writers wishing to move into careers in the professional writing domain. Following their work placements, several students were offered full-time or freelance employment, representing for some their first “professional” writing jobs.
At the end of their time in the DPW program, students are able to venture into the world having had highly valuable experience, both in the workplace and through the selection of courses.
“The courses expose you to different types of writing, because in university you tend to write only academic essays and reports,” says Marion Lougheed, a DPW participant who recently completed her work placement. “It's refreshing and challenging at the same time. I can walk away from this experience as a well-rounded writer with a better sense of what is out there for writers to do in the professional world.”
Susan Chalker-Browne, who instructed a weekly course in conjunction with the work placement, expressed her satisfaction with the program.
“The puzzle of piecing together a radio item, the thrill of seeing your name in print for the first time, deciding the merits of manuscripts in a slush pile, the rush of a TV newsroom in action – all this was shared around the seminar table and experienced vicariously by all.”
Prof. O’Dea says that the courses in the DPW program are now useable for the major and minor in English, which is a recent development. Furthermore, he says that in the future it would be ideal for the DPW program to have more interaction with other diploma programs, such as the diploma in communications studies. Any students interested in finding out more can visit the DPW program website at http://www.mun.ca/english/diplomas/professional.php.