March 2014 -->

Walden University Writing Center

Where instructors and editors talk writing.

Is Your Resume Ready for Your Next Career Move? A Career Services Guest Post

This week, we're excited to offer a special guest post by Career Services Advisor Denise Pranke!

As a Walden Career Services Advisor, I review and provide feedback on hundreds of resumes every year. Just as there are strategies for writing an academic paper, there are strategies for crafting a strong resume. Whether you are transitioning into a new field, re-entering the workforce, looking for a leadership position, or targeting a job similar to your previous employment, you can create a resume that clearly and concisely communicates your unique qualifications, accomplishments, and professional focus.

"Resume - Glasses" (c) Flazingo Photos (license)

Start with self-assessment. Reflect on your strengths. What are you most proud of in your academic and professional accomplishments?

Have clear job target in mind. With a clear job target, you can tailor your resume to highlight your skills and accomplishments that match the required qualifications for the position.

Create a clearly organized document. Use clear section headers and consistent formatting. Avoid redundant statements and long, unorganized lists of duties and responsibilities.

Include a professional summary section that conveys your professional reputation or brand. This section should include three to five sentences that summarize your relevant experience, skills, and professional focus. For example:
Dedicated Community Leader and Adult Educator
Extensive experience in community based nonprofit management. Committed to building engaged communities around common goals through dialogue, education, and partnerships. Hold M.S. in Nonprofit Management and Leadership; pursuing DBA with specialization in Social Impact Management.
• Mission-Focused Approach    • Social Media Communications
• Program Development • Fund Raising
• Data-Driven Program Evaluation • Staff & Volunteer Training

Write accomplishment and skill statements relevant to the position. In Career Services, we call these CAR statements. CAR statements include a challenge, action, and result. Here are three examples that take a weak statement and turn it into a CAR statement. 
Weak:• Increased volunteer hours
Strong: • Increased volunteer hours in tutoring, administrative support, and facility maintenance from 520 hours to 1250 hours over 6 months by collaborating with local businesses
Weak:• Reduced costs
Strong: • Implemented a new inventory tracking system resulting in the elimination of duplicate orders and a yearly savings of over $30,000

Weak:• Improved safety
Strong: • Improved safety by enhancing the training curriculum and implementing a safety checklist which reduced the number of accidents by 60% over a 12-month period

Don’t forget to edit and proofread! Editing and proofreading are essential. Nothing will eliminate your resume from consideration faster than poor editing or misspelled words. For proofreading strategies, check out the Writing Center’s Proofreading resource.

Here are additional resources to help you get your resume ready for your next career move:

Career Services Advisor Denise Pranke
Denise Pranke is a career services advisor in Walden's Career Services Center. Denise also writes for the Walden University Career Services Blog.


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Staff Spotlight: Interview With Shawn Picht, Teacher, Writer, and Traveler

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Shawn Picht
Writing Instructor Shawn Picht

The Walden Writing Center and Academic Skills Center welcomed a new staff member in late 2013. I caught up with this busy individual this month and learned about his interests and the trajectory that brought him, lucky for us, to Walden!

Tell me about your dual role at Walden.
I devote Mondays and Tuesdays to my role as Coordinator of Faculty Development in the Academic Skills Center, assisting with the Writing Center students support (WCSS) courses by answering student questions and providing guidance for faculty teaching the courses. Currently, I am working on a faculty expectations manual. On Wednesdays through Fridays, I focus on my role as writing instructor, often reviewing 12 to 16 student papers per week.

What is your approach to one-on-one reviews?
My goal overall is to help students strengthen their writing skills and increase their confidence in expressing what they’re trying to articulate.

I know you do your own writing, both creative and nonfiction. How does your writing process inform how your work with Walden students?
My nonfiction process is fairly methodical: writing sentence by sentence, paragraph by paragraph, while looking to be as specific as possible and demonstrate confidence. I encourage that approach when working with students during my paper reviews, as well.                                                          

What is the most helpful advice you’ve received about writing?
I was once told by a professor that my writing was “too baroque” and that I was trying too hard.  I learned from that piece of advice that I should write intelligently without going overboard with complex words and sentences. The most helpful advice I give to students and myself in both creative and nonfiction writing is to make sure that the writing process has closure. You can always go back to edit and revise, but a story (whether fiction or an essay) needs to open and close an idea.

How do you spend your free time?
I like to read philosophy and literature, when I get the chance (FYI: reading Nietzsche on the commuter bus is always interesting). I didn’t have much occasion to read literature during my MA studies, and I think that philosophy and literature both help me better understand the world and different viewpoints. I also play acoustic guitar nearly every day. I think music is an important medium of expression; it’s creative, relaxing, and it gives me a break from the computer screen! Of course, spending time with my 7-year-old daughter is a huge priority in my life, as well. We recently started playing chess together.

Which authors or books have influenced you the most?
That’s a difficult question to answer because it depends on what point in my life you’re asking about. I will say I like to read Nietzsche and other German philosophers (their writing is not as dark as you may think!). I also like J. D. Salinger, Fyodor Dostoyevsky, and Jhumpa Lahiri. I’ve read Crime and Punishment six times, so I guess you could say that’s a book I continue to learn from and enjoy.

I understand you are well traveled. 
I am well-traveled in Europe. I lived in Rome, Italy for five months in 2003-04, and I have spent considerable time in Germany over the past two years. But there is a lot of the rest of the world yet to see! (I would love to travel to India someday). I think that travel is a good priority to have at some point in your life to meet new people and experience something different, but there is a time for putting down your roots as well.

What do you like most about working at Walden?
I have been so impressed with how invested the Writing Center and Academic Skills Center staff are in defining what we do, and then delivering on that to best serve Walden students. Also, the people I work with are wonderful. They are friendly, appreciative, intelligent, and quite obliging with me as I learn the ropes at Walden.

Learn more about Shawn on the Writing Center’s Meet Our Staff page.

You might like these other Spotlight posts:

WriteCast Episode 7: Interview with Amy Kubista, EdD Student and Writing Center Staff Member
Meet the AWAs!
Student Spotlight: Jennifer Sulkowski
Student Spotlight: Mary Eldredge-Sandbo
Faculty Spotlight: Dr. Anne L. Fetter, Public Policy and Administration
Faculty Spotlight: Dr. Pettis Perry (Part 1)
Faculty Spotlight: Dr. Pettis Perry (Part 2)
Faculty Spotlight: Dr. K. Elizabeth McDonald

Martha KingMartha King is the manager of dissertation editor services. She has been with the Walden Writing Center for 9 years.

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WriteCast Episode 7: Interview with Amy Kubista, EdD Student and Writing Center Staff Member

Amy Kubista
Many students work hard to find a balance between school, career, and family life; Amy Kubista, EdD student and Manger of Writing Instructional Services at the Walden Writing Center, is no exception. This month, Nik sits down with Amy to talk about how she strives for that balance, her motivation for pursuing her degree, and writing advice.

To download the episode to your computer, press the share button on the player above, then press the download button. Visit the Writing Center's WriteCast page for our episode archive and transcripts. Happy listening!

How are your experiences different from or similar to Amy's? Do you have other strategies to help you achieve work-life-academic balance?

Resources mentioned in this episode:

Capstone Calendars: A Plan for Success
Writing Resources tab on the Writing Center website
Life Cycle of a Paper Webinar

WriteCast podcast team

Writing Instructors Nik NadeauAnne Shiell, and Brittany Kallman Arneson produce the WriteCast podcast. 


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Creswell Did Not Write About You: Common Mistakes in Citing 'I' Statements

At the Writing Center, we often comment on sentences like these:

During the analysis phase of my qualitative study, I will organize data into themes (Creswell, 2012).

Counselor Smith should not engage in a romantic relationship with her former patient Fred because it has been just 2 years since Fred’s treatment ended (American Counseling Association, 2005).

The sentences are clear, they cite the source, and they follow APA style—so what’s the problem?

Did the source you're citing write about you or your study?


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APA and MLA Showdown: Our Defense of APA

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When we read the most recent UCWbLing post (by theDePaul University’s Center for Writing-based Learning) last week, we couldn’t just sit by and watch APA style get crushed by MLA. We had to step up to APA’s defense. Not that APA needs any defending, but…

Style guides and manuals

With experience in Chicago, MLA, and APA, we have admiration for and frustration with each style. During our time at Walden, however, we have come to have a new appreciation for APA. Many consider it to be a long list of overly picky and hard-to-learn arbitrary rules, and we don’t disagree that MLA is the easier style to learn. But, we’re still in APA’s corner, and here’s why:  

1. The serial comma

APA and MLA both use the serial comma (meaning you add a comma before “and” in a list of three or more items), and this rule ensures clarity for your reader, as each item you are listing is neatly separated. Who doesn’t like an easy-to-read list? The difference comes in each style’s directions regarding serial commas: APA style is perfectly clear that serial commas are expected, as evidenced by the serial comma’s appearance in APA’s index (under comma, serial). APA even gives examples in two places (p. 64 and 88). MLA style also suggests writers use the serial comma, but it isn’t listed in the index; instead, you need to investigate the comma section of the manual and interpret the example MLA gives. APA’s clear and direct approach ensures that all users know to use this handy little rule. 

2. Citation formatting

In APA style, citations require the date of publication for the source that you’re citing, like this: Shiell (2013) or (Shiell, 2013). In MLA style, your citation includes the author name and page number, and you only include dates in your reference entries. This small rule can make a big difference in terms of the credibility of your research, however. Presenting the date within the citation immediately tells readers the currency of the source (how recently it was published, which gives a sense of how up-to-date—or outdated—the research might be) and which source you’re citing (which is helpful particularly if you’re using multiple works by the same author). Imagine reading an entire article about technology only to realize its central claim is based on research from the 1960s; bummer, right?

3. Page numbers (or lack thereof)

In MLA, your citations must include a page number, regardless of whether you’re quoting or paraphrasing the source. Page numbers are also required for quotations in APA, but APA only recommends that writers include a page number when paraphrasing if they want to point readers to the exact page where the information is from. For paraphrases in APA style, a page number is not required, and generally not included. This guideline makes a lot of sense. When summarizing and paraphrasing from sources, you’re not always going to pick out a single sentence to use from the middle of a long article or book. Instead, you will often communicate information or ideas that the author presented throughout the work. Imagine if your citations included strings of page numbers pointing out every time the author mentioned that information or idea. Reading citation after citation of (Oyler, 2013, p. 4, 7, 9, 10, 20-23, 40, 66, etc.) would get a little tiresome, wouldn’t it?  

4. Heading formats

It’s true, APA style has more rules than MLA about how to format your headings. You’re probably thinking, Who cares if my level 3 heading is tabbed, bolded, in sentence case, and followed by a period and the first line of the paragraph? Your readers care, that’s who. Using consistent formatting for your heading levels helps readers understand the relationship of your paper’s sections to one another. MLA recommends that writers use consistent heading formatting, but only throughout a document—there are no guidelines on consistent formatting from paper to paper. Do you want to read a paper where every heading is bolded, underlined, italicized, and size 22 font? We thought not. Understanding the organization of a paper is easier when you’re familiar with an established set of heading levels (and it’s easier on the eyes) than when you’re trying to decipher the writer’s own formatting scheme.

5. Abstracts

You might think it’s good news that MLA style doesn’t require abstracts (nor does it give guidance on abstracts)—less work for you, right? But think about your last research paper or an upcoming research project and the number of articles you’ll need to sift through to find the ones relevant to your topic and purpose. There’s no way you’re going to read all of the articles you find, even with a successful database search method. Instead, you’ll first take a look at an article’s abstract, and then maybe you’ll skim through the text and look at the headings (see how understanding heading scheme at a glance could come in handy?) to decide if you should spend time fully reading the article. APA’s abstract requirement and guidelines help you learn how to write and format a strong abstract, which you’ll need for long papers and for works you hope to publish.  

So, APA is the clear winnerright?

APA manual with sunbeams
The 6th edition in all its glory.
While we do have a soft spot for APA, APA is only the best style guide for certain students and certain types of writing, just like MLA, or Chicago, or another style is more appropriate for other students and different disciplines. If you’re using APA, that’s great (and we have a lot of resources to help). If you’re required or have the option to use a different style, that’s fine, too. The important thing is learning to follow a style guide and properly document your sources. Whichever style you use, writing your paper in a consistent and accepted way helps your readers see you as a credible researcher and writer, find your original sources, and focus on your ideas rather than your formatting.

Thanks to the UCWbLing Blog for a thought-provoking post!

Anne Shiell and Beth Oyler, Writing Instructors
Writing Instructor and Coordinator of Social Media Resources Anne Shiell has an MA in English (yes, she used MLA). Writing Instructor and Coordinator of Webinar Writing Instruction Beth Oyler is working toward her MA in English (she is also using MLA).

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Mark Your Calendar for March Webinars

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Have you attended one of our webinars in Adobe Connect yet? The Writing Center (and other centers in the Center for Student Success) recently switched to using Adobe Connect as our platform for webinars. This new platform means we have more opportunities for you to collaborate with staff and fellow students during live webinars, and our archived recordings have more interactivity as well. We're excited about this change, and we're also excited about our March webinars. We're offering one specifically for EdD and EdS students, two geared toward Walden students at any level, and a new webinar in our social change series. Join us for one or all!
March Webinars
click on a webinar title to register

Writing for MAT, EdD, & EdS Major Assessments

Tuesday, March 4
7-8 p.m. ET
Audience: MAT, EdD, & EdS students
Major assessments are required components of the MAT, EdD, and EdS programs, but they require a specific writing style to complete. In this session, we will provide tips for writing successfully in your major assessments.

Beginnings & Endings: Introduce and Conclude Your Writing

Friday, March 14
3-4 p.m. ET
Audience: All students
This webinar highlights two essential aspects of any paper or discussion post: the introduction and the conclusion. In this webinar, we will explore several examples and discuss tips for successful introductions and conclusions. 

APA Citations Part 2: Nontraditional Sources

Wednesday, March 19
12-1 p.m. ET

Audience: All students
In this second of two APA sessions, Writing Center staff members will dismiss nontraditional APA citations and references, with an emphasis on those that are common to Walden assignments. We will provide guidance on citing dicussion posts, course videos, and other sources that are required at Walden but not explored thoroughly in the APA manual. Participants will receive links and other tools for helping students master these formats.
Watch "APA Citations Part 1" here. The PowerPoint slides are available for download in the recording.

Writing for Social Change: Grant Proposals

Thursday, March 27
5-6 p.m. ET
Audience: All students
Sometimes achieving social change requires support from others. This webinar will give you tips for communicating your goals for social change through grant proposals, introducing you to this genre of writing. While we will not provide tips for finding grants, you will be able to use this webinar to help you communicate your social change vision to others in grant format.

Writing Instructor Beth Oyler coordinates the Writing Center's webinar instruction. Visit our webinars page for the webinar archive.

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