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Many of the job applications I send I never hear word about, so now you can play HR director for me. On the merits of the cover letter, would you accept my application, interview it, reject it, or forget about it? This letter was for a job called “Writing Consultant” in a writing center, called the Writing Studio, at a local small, liberal arts college. (It’s a unique college, one of two nationwide to teach classes in blocks rather than on the -mester.) The job description implied this position was essentially a co-director job. (I heard later that the man who held the job previously felt it was more of a T.A./grader position for Writing Across the Curriculum classes.) I was called for a telephone interview, but I was not invited on campus. Therefore, like the previous entry in this series, this letter was semi-successful. Still, here I sit, unemployed. Therefore, enough qualifying.

Dear [Person in Charge of the Search Committee]:

I am writing to apply for the position of Writing Consultant at [your college]. My resume catalogues my experience as a teacher of writing in both classrooms and writing labs, and it shows my leadership experience. From that experience I have learned that writing programs that are integrated across curricula become vital to the comprehensive educational goals of a college. The value of an integrated writing program is realized most dramatically in centers such as [your college’s] Writing Studio.

Colleges offer students ample opportunities to test their educations, from research projects in the classroom to internships in the workforce. But a writing lab on a college campus is often the place where teaching and learning most poignantly intersect. For this reason they are important not only for English majors, but also for engineers, accountants, and social workers alike. Once, when I was tutor at the University of Iowa’s Writing Center, I worked with a client seeking help to revise his application essay to medical school. Over the course of a month I helped him to revise his essay from a bland, if detailed, list of experiences to a sensorially vibrant and rhetorically effective essay. What was most remarkable in his work on that essay was not the finished product; rather, it was that, by his final draft, he was able to say clearly and precisely why he wanted to be a doctor. Certainly the student had volunteered and interned his entire undergraduate career. But it was not until he was asked and, further, encouraged to write of his experiences that he could define his desire. In his case—in the case of many, many others—he gained insight into his chosen field and into himself because of the assistance of a writing tutor.

The kind of focused, non-directive tutoring which guided that pre-med student to insight I gained, through study and practice, mostly when I was at Iowa but also when I tutored at my undergraduate institution in a role similar to [your college’s] Peer Consultants. I’ve learned that a writer gains most when her tutor or consultant knows how to meet her as she is. When a consultant and her student meet in session, they enter into one of the most directly pedagogical moments there is. They meet not simply as teacher and student meet; they meet professionally, as two writers meet to talk about a craft; they also meet informally, as reader meets writer. A tutoring session is foremost anchored to the circumstance of the student’s work, but often the session reaches past that circumstance and addresses the student’s most pressing, unanswered questions about writing, about reading, about studying in general. Therefore a consultant’s aim is to be both focused enough to remain on task and nimble enough to allow relevant, external ideas into the conversation. There is no room for impatience in a consulting session. Tutors or consultants need adequate training to be both task-oriented and nimble. In this way, when writers are met by consultants as they are, they are more wholly guided to become the writers they wish to be.

To remember the whole of the college represents potential clientele; to develop consultants who are dedicated to meeting writers as they are: these, along with the position’s other responsibilities, are what [your college] and the Writing Studio can expect from my work as a Writing Consultant. My vision as a director will be to look toward further integration between the College’s writing programs and its various curricula; my efforts will be to work with faculty, consultants, and students to meet those goals. After all, the more central the Studio becomes to the educational goals of the college, the better the students of the College will be served.




Humph. So I hear there is grumbling about this series. Not only is it depressing, it also tends to miss the point: after all, this one isn’t exactly a failed application, since I did get an interview. “You might as well record your interviews and put them online,” went the complaint tonight. Sheesh. Everyspouse is a critic.

fyi: as i referenced in my last post, i have heard that women need love (while you—man—need respect). have you ruled this possibility out chez mgb/kl?

One of us has ruled it out, anyway…

speaking of respect, but this is hijacking it, i’m getting very little at the moment…but given the harvard hits, i’d hate to get hits from my own institution

i would agree, this is not a failed job application. it is a very well written cover letter.

however, i wonder if your essay were as sensorially alive as you claim the medical essay to have been after you led it out of the cave of the med-school aspirant’s mind..if i could smell the halitosis as you and the money-hungry, doctor-wanna-be were talking about the essay…hear the nervous ticking of the leg on that first meeting…then maybe you would’ve indeed ended up directing a writing center.

or, maybe this is your job. a paper miller for doctors, lawyers and other persons aspiring to fame, fortune and power.

To be a paper miller after they have fame, fortune, and power pays better.

Who's disrespecting you? Or, if you rather, how are you being disrespected?

OK. I have been convinced that what I’ve been thinking of as “failed” applications aren’t really failed. It’s a matter of perspective: I’ve been approaching everything in toto. If I didn’t get an offer, then the application is failed. But that’s not really how it works, is it? Actually, the resume, the cover letter is there to get you an interview, and really, that’s all it is. In that sense, if I got interviews, then these applications are not in fact failed. Well.

so, did the wiser person in your household lead you into the light?

She dragged me there kicking and screaming. :)

i find that exhaustive repetition of the same point works well. :)