University of Gloucestershire’s Creative and Critical Writing Program: An Inside Look

By Jodre Datu

After graduation, I was faced with the career inconvenience of a global pandemic. I had this romantic idea of obtaining a job right after my internship and, you know, beginning my life, convinced that the last thing I needed was another degree.

But plans change. After an internship of landing pages, email newsletters and Facebook ads, I felt I had lost some of that initial love that brought me to Humber in the first place: a love of crafting stories, characters and universes.  

Enter University of Gloucestershire’s Creative and Critical Writing MA program, a kind of light at the end of a landing-page tunnel. Through Humber, I was able to skip an entire year of coursework and fast-track to the thesis portion of the program, where I now spend my days reading and writing and thinking about my own novel. And it’s been a dream.

The program pairs you with a professor to guide you through your work, drawing out the theories and inspirations that you (perhaps unconsciously) are using. For my novel—a coming-of-age magic realist storythis means I submit a chunk of my thesis biweekly and we talk about everything from queer theory to narrative structure to Marvel’s Avengers. My professor also gives me feedback (would my main character really say that?). I then write, read, edit and repeat the process again.

As a writer who improvises most of the time, I’m surprised at how much I enjoy the “critical” part of this program, how I’m being forced to infuse every word with intention. Analyzing other texts has helped me become a better thinker as well, one who can make a little more sense of our current catastrophes.

I give this program two thumbs up, perfect for Humber students who have a little more art left in them—and for anyone with a story that needs to be told.

Working Remotely + Internships: An Effective Pairing for Valuable Learning Opportunities

By Siobhan Pretty

In the early spring of 2020, as pandemic precautions came into effect and we all retreated into our homes, our relationship with technology became more significant, meaningful, and dare I say, essential. It’s allowed people to stay connected to others, to continue their jobs, and, for my classmates and me, it provided the ability to complete the PWC program’s summer internship.

When the process of preparing for internships began, the concept of a remote internship hadn’t crossed my mind. In all honesty, I didn’t even realize it was a possibility. The notion sent my brain into overdrive with worries and questions. Questions like, “how can an internship be successful without actually meeting people?” (Though the introvert in me celebrated the fact that I could still complete the credit without leaving my home.)

With time and information from Humber and the PWC staff, I prepared for phone and video interviews and to work from home. (And, of course, by searching Google for answers to all of my what ifs.) After putting this prep work to the test, I was thrilled to be offered a content writing intern position with an organic skincare company. I realized very quickly how well suited the tools and skills we learned in our classes were for remote working and being successful in the writing and communications field. 

The internship set-up allowed for feedback on tasks like blog posts, product descriptions, social media posts, and product catalogues from my supervisor by phone and email. Which meant I could improve my communication capabilities, learn new skills, and successfully put together completed projects. The internship turned into so much more than I was expecting when I was offered a full-time position at the end of the work term. 

Initially, my worries became fears that a remote internship wouldn’t be as valuable as an in-office internship. That I wouldn’t learn as much or create any real work connections. But this experience has proved me wrong — much to my delight.

Siobhan Pretty completed her internship in Humber’s Professional Writing and Communications program in the summer of 2020.

Holiday Helper: Picking the Perfect Christmas Tree

Family of 7 infront of a selection of green christmas trees
Remy Martino and Family picking out their tree

Holiday Helper: Picking the Perfect Christmas Tree

By: Remy Martino

December is just around the corner, promising a month of festive family fun. Make sure your little elves are ready to pick a Christmas tree worthy of Santa’s Workshop with these easy tips and tricks.

For many Canadian families, picking a Christmas tree signals the start of the holiday season. Though it’s fun to whip up batches of gingerbread cookies or binge on festive movies, Christmas will never be complete without the warm glow and fresh scent of an evergreen, nestled nicely in a corner, waiting for Santa. By following these steps, you and your family can have a tree worthy of the season.

Step One: Pick a Location for Your Tree

Take a look around your home and decide where you would like to place your tree. Common locations might be the living room or front foyer. Ensure there is enough space for your tree by checking the height of your ceiling. Don’t forget to get out the tree stand, as that certainly adds a few inches! Also consider the height of your star or angel, and have a salesperson cut the tip of the tree to accommodate the topper.

Step Two: Tree Types

There are countless Christmas tree options out there, and all of them are guaranteed to make someone happy. But, what kind of tree does your family want? If there are small children waiting to shake some presents, you might want to avoid a Norway spruce, as the branches may be sharper than those of other trees. If you want a tree that fills your home with the fragrant scents of the season, a Douglas fir might be the tree for you.

Step Three: Pine Fresh

This tree needs to last more than twelve days, so make sure it is a fresh one before you strap it to the roof of your family car or shove it in the Uber. The freshness of a tree can be determined by checking the trunk for sap: you want it to be sticky. If it’s too cold to take off your mitts, you could also take a needle straight from the tree and break it like a pencil. Did you hear it? That’s a good sign!

Step Four: Green as the Grinch

A healthy tree is a green tree! If some of the trees on the lot are faded in colour, they are thirsty; these will not last until Christmas. Try to find a tree that is truly evergreen!

Step Five: Oh, Christmas Tree

If you think you’ve found the tree of your dreams, have someone cut the stump. This does not hurt the tree, and it makes absolutely sure the tree will be able to absorb water once it’s secured in your stand. You will want to water the tree as soon as you can!

Step Six: Smile for the Camera

The best part of the holiday season is making memories with the ones we love. Make sure to take a family photo before leaving the lot!

Step Seven: Tip Top Shape

To keep your tree healthy and happy once at home, remember to water it. The sun will dry out the branches, and the needles might fall off, so direct sunlight is not good. Nobody wants to clean up that mess!

Bonus: A Perfect Fit

Christmas trees are personal. As long as you follow the care instructions laid out here, the shape of your tree is up to you. Pick a tree you know everyone will love from the first day of Christmas to the last.