Preparing Students and the Program for the Workplace
Since its implementation in November 2014, the Technical Communication Advisory Board (TCAB) has been fostering a symbiotic relationship between students and alumni. Made up of 12 technical writing and communication industry professionals, TCAB works to strengthen the University’s Department of Writing Studies by keeping students aware of current industry trends and practices; in addition, TCAB benefits the industry by helping to better equip students entering the workforce.
TCAB provides writing studies students opportunities to network with people in a variety of technical communication fields, including online learning, the medical device industry, information technology, content strategy, and usability.
This past fall, the department held a Connect Event, which was intended to be a catalyst for building new relationships. “We wanted to create a structure that allowed for a lot of initial connecting,” says TCAB coordinator Liz Fendley. The Connect Event, which was attended by 42 students and seven TCAB members, was structured so groups of students spent 15 minutes at a table with a TCAB member, eventually rotating through all of them. “The casual atmosphere created a welcoming environment in which I felt comfortable asking the TCAB members questions,” said Junior Paige Harker. “After the event, I felt optimistic about what the future holds for me as a technical communicator,” Harker recalls.
TCAB members’ involvement in the Writing Studies department goes beyond the Connect Event—they serve as guest speakers for undergraduate courses, and Department Chair Laura Gurak, Professor Ann Hill Duin, and Dr. Laura Pigozzi have implemented virtual TCAB roundtables, where students have the opportunity to discuss a specific topic with TCAB members via WebEx. So far, two successful virtual roundtables have occurred. During these events, TCAB members shared their input on curriculum, tools of the trade, and recruiting, as well as the graduate certificate program in technical writing, which will be available entirely online beginning in fall 2016. Professor Ann Hill Duin has also set up a mentorship program for MS students working on their capstone projects. In addition, several TCAB members will also be present and available for networking at the spring research showcase.