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Transferrable Skills of a Writing Mentor

By Mairead Tuttle

December 7, 2017

My work as a writing mentor has been one of the most rewarding parts of my college experience. My school’s writing center has not only been a wonderful place of employment, but also a source of personal growth. While helping my fellow students improve their own writing, I have developed transferrable skills that I know will help me greatly in the professional world.

Working as a writing mentor has helped me to improve my own writing. Writing is a skill that is important in every field, but is especially relevant in industries in which communication is key. As someone who is interested in marketing, working with pieces of writing that span academic disciplines has helped me to see writing skills are not only important for English majors. All academic disciplines need to “market” their findings. Effective writing can solidify a business plan or explain the gravity of a scientific finding. Witnessing the ways in which students across disciplines convey their messages has helped me to strengthen my own written (and spoken) communication skills.

While it might not be the first skill that comes to mind when you think of “writing tutor,” time management has been very important throughout my time in my job. As is likely the case at most colleges, my school’s writing center has appointments that must end when the hour (or thirty minutes) is up. When a student brings in twenty pages of her senior thesis, I immediately know that we will be unable to read over every word, or even every page. Therefore, I quickly need to figure out a way to structure the session so that it is productive as possible. Situations like this also arise in the professional world, where the stakes might be higher and the time even shorter. Working as a writing mentor has allowed me to develop the skill of creating a productive plan at a moment’s notice.

Another skill that I have developed while working as a writing mentor is to always lead with the positive and offer constructive criticism. There is often a positive element of a negative situation and a silver lining to every cloud. The same is true with writing. Despite the fact that an essay might be rife with grammatical errors and have three unrelated theses that are all unclear, beginning the session by pointing out what the writer did correctly sets a positive tone for the remainder of your time. The student knows that you intend to be productive, not purely critical for an entire hour.

This skill is one that is quite valuable in managers in the professional world. Employees who are constantly berated by their supervisors are not likely to be very motivated workers or have a positive affinity toward their workplace. If a student has consistently used an incorrect verb tense, I tell her constructively so that she will not make the mistake again in the future. If an employee has unknowingly used the incorrect terminology in a report, a manager must tell her so that she too will know what to do in the future.

No matter what type of assignment or skill level of the writer, I always enjoy the time I get to spend working in my school’s writing center. The lessons that I have learned there will stick with me for many years to come, and throughout my career, I will think back to the skills I developed during my time spent there.

Mairead Tuttle is from Pennsylvania and is currently a French and Economics major at Mount Holyoke College. Through her economics classes, she found a passion for business, and hopes to someday work on the management side of the fashion and beauty industries.

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