Undergraduate Writing Consultant @ Writing Hub, Teaching and Learning Commons
Third year w/ Senior Standing | Sixth College | Literatures in English Major & Law and Society Minor
What do you do and what makes your job unique?
I work with students on various types of writing at all stages of the process from early brainstorming to fine-tuning. A few examples of types of writing I work with include research papers, analytical papers, application materials, and creative pieces.
One of the most unique aspects of my job is that I am constantly given opportunities to learn from my coworkers. Hearing other people’s perspectives on tutoring, discussing strategies for working with specific types of writing, and seeing the way my coworkers conduct their sessions are some of the experiences that have helped me shape and reshape my own tutoring practice.
What is your favorite part of your job?
My favorite part of my job is reading and discussing student writing. Not only do I have the opportunity to read about subject matter that I might not otherwise have been introduced to, I also get to talk about the content of the work with the person who wrote about it. There’s something incredibly valuable about seeing the way people think through and articulate their ideas both verbally and in writing, and I really enjoy doing that at work.
Is this job in line with your long-term career goals? If it is, how? If not, was there another reason you took the job?
I took this job because I genuinely love both writing and working with others on their writing. In high school, I tutored K-8 students on a variety of subjects, but writing was my favorite because I loved being able to see the way each student expressed their unique voice.
While my job does not directly relate to my long-term career goals, which include a focus on law and children’s advocacy, I believe a great deal of what I have learned at this job will help me in future work.
How did you find out about your current job? Did you have prior work experience that helped you get this job?
I learned about the Writing Hub through Professor Nicolazzo who recommended that each of us in her LTEN 22 course make an appointment before turning in our first paper. I followed her advice, and I found talking through my ideas to be incredibly helpful to me in developing them further. From there, I looked into getting a job at the Writing Hub, because I knew I enjoyed talking to people about their writing and because I wanted to be part of what I felt was a valuable campus resource.
While I did have prior tutoring experience, the application for this job didn’t emphasize the significance of having tutored before. It seemed to me that the Writing Hub was looking for people who would be able to effectively help writers and were open to learning more about how to do that.
How has your job helped you? What skills have you learned? What have you gained?
There are a number of things I have learned in my work with the Writing Hub. In terms of interpersonal skills, I have learned how to communicate effectively, how to work with students who are uncomfortable or overwhelmed, and how to adapt my tutoring style based on an individual’s needs, among other things. On a more personal level, however, I have learned to rethink everything I believed about what constitutes “good writing,” I have been able to think critically about the criteria by which writing is evaluated in educational and professional settings, and I have explored ways in which my practices can make an impact towards large-scale institutional change.
Have you ever had a difficult or discouraging experience related to also being a student worker in the past? (For example, got fired, rejected from your dream job, struggled to work and go to school full time, etc.) How did you overcome this?
Fortunately, I have not had a negative experience related to being a student worker. I have been lucky enough to have had supervisors that value education and who have been willing to work with me to create a schedule that allows me to work while still taking the course load I need to graduate in three years. Early on, I had concerns about having enough time for work, internships, courses, etc., but I found that talking honestly with my supervisors about my other obligations and availability helped tremendously.
What advice do you have for students who are looking for jobs? What about people looking for a job like yours?
I’d advise students looking for jobs to make use of the resources we have available including the Career Center and Handshake. I also encourage students to think about the type of job they want and reach out to employers. It can feel awkward or intimidating to ask organizations about their hiring processes, especially on-campus organizations, but in my experience, people are generally very open to talking about how you can get involved. If someone is unable to get a certain position, I always recommend trying for another.
For students who have an interest in writing and are looking for a job like mine, look out for the Writing Hub application in the winter.
Is there anything else you would like us to include?
I highly recommend everyone make an appointment at the Writing Hub! Whatever you’re working on, wherever you’re at with it, and however you feel about your writing, there’s something you can gain from a session.
The Writing Hub
Information By: Maggie Thach Morshed
Senior Tutor Coordinator | firstname.lastname@example.org | (858) 246-2117
What is your job and what do you do?
I’m the Senior Tutor Coordinator at the Writing Hub in the Teaching + Learning Commons (located in Geisel Library, first floor, lower level west). I, along with the Tutor Coordinator, am responsible for hiring, educating, and supervising our undergraduate writing consultants. It is our job to make sure that our writing consultants feel prepared, confident, and supported in tutoring their fellow peers.
Another part of my job is to liaise with different entities and units on campus to make sure they know about us and our services. We’re always looking for campus partners to collaborate with to make sure students are getting the writing support they’re looking for, whether it’s for a writing assignment in a course, a cover letter for a job, or a graduate or professional school application essay.
Why did this type of work interest you, and how did you get started?
A lot of my professional endeavors have revolved around writing. In the past, I’ve been a sports reporter, a freelance writer, a fact checker, a Peace Writer, and humanities teacher. One of my favorite aspects about the job is that I get to interact with students and writing (and not have to grade papers!). I enjoy the role of supervising student workers and being in a mentor position.
How do student workers impact your department? What roles do they play?
Without student workers, there would be no Writing Hub. Our goal is to help students become better writers in the long run, so we see the writing consultants as facilitators of learning. Students risk vulnerability when they share their writing with us, so we work to educate our tutors on how to create a supportive atmosphere in which the student doesn’t feel the pressure of an expert/novice dynamic, but instead feels that the writing consultant is there as a supportive and knowledgeable peer. That’s why our writing consultants are fellow students rather than grad students or professional writers.
What can students gain or learn from working in your department?
The type of tutoring we do allows student workers to practice empathy, active listening, and critical thinking, and learn a lot about writing. Writing consultants must think on their feet—in the span of a thirty-minute session, writing consultants must assess a piece of writing, communicate with a student about their perceived needs, and construct an agenda with the student for how they’ll spend time in the session. Then the writing consultant must find ways to help the student reach new perspectives on what’s working and what can be improved, and to generate strategies with the student that they can apply when the session ends. As a staff, we emphasize openness and humility, and look for opportunities to develop writing consultants’ professionalism.
The majority of our student workers are not going to continue in writing center work after graduation, but the skills we help them develop are ones that can be applied to any job in any field. When we have reached out to our writing consultants who have graduated and entered graduate/professional school or the workforce, they report back that the communication skills, perspectives on diversity, and insights into what make a happy work culture are all things they value from their experience at the Writing Hub.
Does your department offer any special opportunities for students?
One big opportunity is to conduct independent research projects. We offer consultants, as scholar-practitioners of writing center work, opportunities to interact with writing center scholarship and research. With guidance from our professional staff, consultants can craft research questions exploring aspects of the work they do with students in the Writing Hub. Tutors can develop these ideas into proposals for the Southern California Writing Center Association Conference, a regional professional conference for writing tutors. If a tutor’s proposal is accepted, we help them develop methodologies for collecting and analyzing data, and to compose a presentation for the conference.
It’s a unique opportunity for undergraduate students to design and implement their own research projects. Some of our consultants have used their Writing Hub research to secure on- and off-campus research funding, and to present at larger conferences.
When does your department typically hire students? Are there summer opportunities? Do you have any jobs you are currently hiring for?
We typically hire at the beginning of the Spring quarter every year. For the second half of the Spring quarter, new hires go through an immersion program where they get acclimated to the work and our values as a work culture. New hires will begin tutoring the following Fall. The Writing Hub is open during the summer, so there is a small number of summer employment opportunities. The application to become a tutor for the next academic year (2020-2021) will be available by mid-winter quarter.
When hiring, what kind of experience or skills and qualifications are you looking for?
We’re looking for curious, open, humble, and reflective students from any discipline. We started this academic school year with a staff of 57 consultants from every academic division on campus (Engineering 6; Arts & Humanities 11; Social Science 9; Physical Sciences 7; SIO 1; Health Sciences 5; Biological Sciences 9). We look for students who are strong analytical writers in their discipline who are interested in learning more about writing. We look for students who will thrive in an environment where they are asked to regularly reflect and improve their writing practices.
What advice do you have for students?
It’s good to remember that the jobs and internships you have in college are not only opportunities to explore what career path you might want to pursue, but also opportunities to show you what kind of work culture you want to be a part of.
How many employees and students worker do you have in your department?
We typically have between 50 and 60 undergraduate writing consultants during the academic year.
Is there anything else you would like us to include?
The best way for students to get a sense of whether they’d be interested in being a Writing Hub Peer Writing Consultant (tutor) would be to make a few appointments to work on a writing project with us. Appointments are available six days a week and can be scheduled via https://writinghub.ucsd.edu/, though we also always welcome walk-in appointments.