April 3, 2018 | Laura Billett
For its first three years, the Professional Writing and Communications (PWC) graduate certificate program has attracted many aspiring writers. The program’s value hinges on whether those graduates become what the title implies: professionals. So, before forking out another year’s worth of tuition, you deserve to know: is this program truly what its website describes? Importantly, will you get a job out of it?
2017 PWC alumni Ardo Omer, Leticia Rodrigues and Sean White share their perspectives on the outcomes of the program.
Omer applied to the PWC program because it offered practical writing development. “Communications for me was more stable. It was a more career-oriented thing that would also give me the leeway to possibly pursue things like fiction,” Omer says.
The program opened her eyes to the nature of a communications role, and it gave her a better understanding of different sectors within communications. She was initially interested in writing for magazines but, after listening to the experiences of instructors and guest speakers, realized that it was not the industry that would bring her satisfaction.
The PWC program’s diverse classes exposed Omer to types of writing that she enjoys and uses in her job as festival assistant in communications with the International Festival of Authors (IFOA). “What you thought wasn’t your thing, becomes your thing. I never thought I would like writing press releases, but I know that’s probably the most fun I had writing anything, and I was really good at it,” Omer says.
In her internship with the IFOA, Omer was responsible for a range of activities—including writing and editing news releases. Now, she leads the IFOA’s social media activities, writes their blog and helps with research and marketing. As one of three on the communications team, Omer says her education brings weight to her voice: “I think both of [my colleagues] appreciate my insights with social media, which from an organizational stand point came from Humber.”
Rodrigues says the range of PWC courses has given her knowledge that helps her succeed. She completed her internship with the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) before moving home to Curitiba, Brazil. There, she works as a copywriter for Nossa Causa, writing copy for blogs, email marketing and social media.
“I would say everything [from the program] somehow added up to what I am doing now,” Rodrigues says. “[PWC] helped me with not only my own work, but it gave me the right tools to be able to help other people with their work. For example, we have another person in the agency who is responsible for the planning of the campaigns, and I have things that I teach her from the [PWC] project management class to improve her management inside the agency.”
The broad scope of the program could also be seen as a downfall, White admits, but it’s what gave him the skills to succeed in the multi-faceted world of communications. As an intern with Prostate Cancer Canada, he wrote materials like news releases and articles. In his current role as a communications officer with CBC/Radio Canada, he writes more reactive communications, mostly on social media. White says every career requires constant learning, and “I like that [PWC] gave me options. It had a robust description of what the program entailed and that turned out to be really true.”
More than a range of skills, the program provides an opportunity to build a strong network of friends and professional contacts. PWC instructors encourage students to network with professionals in the writing community, but “the best networking is really [with] the people at your level,” White said. “I establish an actual network that is not based on ulterior motives; it’s just based on genuine human connection and friendship, and then that becomes a network.”
When White was looking for work after his internship, it was the Humber network that helped him find opportunities. PWC instructors recommended him for jobs, and friends from the program passed on freelance opportunities. In interviews, “I had a lot of response like, ‘oh wow, that program a reason why we called you,’” White says.
Omer agrees. “I find that a lot of organizations, especially if you’re just starting out in a communications role, want to be able to see that you have that school credit.”
Learning continues after the program, so you’ll have to be prepared to ask questions and show initiative, Omer says, but “[the certificate] is something now that I can go into any organization with, saying, ‘Hire me because I know this stuff’.”
To find out how you can apply to the Professional Writing and Communications Ontario Graduate Certificate, visit our website: https://liberalarts.humber.ca/programs/professional-writing-and-communications.html.
Laura is an aspiring writer and avid reader. She graduated with a BA in English from the University of Regina and is completing Humber College’s Professional Writing and Communications program. Stories have always been a source of inspiration for Laura, and she hopes that her own writing will open new worlds and perspectives for readers.