PWR’s Professional Development Forum: A Celebration of Growth
The Professional Development Forum was created and hosted by the Professional Writing and Rhetoric program staff, Dr. Heidi Lawrence, Dr. Doug Eyman, Dr. Rachel Graham-Lussos, and Dr. Lourdes Fernandez of the English Department at George Mason University. It was a night full of food, games, and professional growth. It was a chance for George Mason English students to come together and share their experiences with the Professional Development program which is integrated into their class curriculums throughout the semester.
The forum was held on Wednesday, December 11th at the HUB Ballroom. Upon entry is when the festivities began, forum goers were asked to pick a number out of a jar and sit at the table that corresponded with the number they picked, offering a chance to sit with people who they may have never had come in contact with before. At the tables, everyone was greeted with a nice game of Professional Development Bingo! The bingo cards served as an ice breaker to encourage people get up and interact with other forum goers and strike up conversations. Spaces to fill included descriptions such as “has a strong opinion about the Oxford comma”, “is looking for and internship”, and the classic “shares a favorite Microsoft Office tool.” This game created many fun interactions throughout the start of the evening and, of course, included a “modest” yet useful prize for two winners which were USB drives. Though it was meant to be a game, conversations of classes, future plans, career growth, and many other subject could be heard throughout the ballroom. People were really connecting on levels that were not just the assigned task at hand. Once everyone had their fill of arguably the best part of any event of this nature, free food, the sit-down portion of the evening began.
During this time, Fall 2019 graduates of the both the undergraduate and graduate programs were asked to stand, given a chance to receive recognition for their hard work and accomplishments at George Mason. Two graduating graduate students then took the stage to explain their program projects and how they decided to pursue them. One graduate spoke about her communication issues at her work-place at a community center since they recently had a major facility and faculty expansion. She said that she took inspiration and guidance from Clay Spinuzzi’s ‘TopSite’ to make communications at her job more efficient. The second graduate went a more creative route. She consulted many students and developed a website to help create documents that will help with their profession growth and development. The website is called betterdocuments.net for those who are interested in seeing what is has to offer for your own personal growth. Officers of the George Mason chapter of the Society of Technical Communications (STC) then took the stage to talk about what STC has to offer and how to become a member. If you are interested in joining the GMU STC, please feel free to contact Dr. Heidi Lawrence to learn more.
The night closed out with some last bits of professional development and reflections. Every table had a chance to write out, as a group, what they learned throughout the semester about professional development, what was useful about it, and what could use some improvements. As different tables started to collaborate and share their thoughts, the room was buzzing with positive affirmations and about the night, talking about how much they enjoyed the experience of the forum and networking with many like-minded individuals with similar goals. Finally, everyone got a chance to write up “elevator pitches” about themselves expressing who they are and their future goals. This was introduced via a lovely demonstration by Dr. Eyman and Dr. Fernandez. The pitches were then shared amongst each other as everyone gave their pitches to different people and received feedback on what about it worked well.
The forum was a great example how much the faculty and staff of the Professional Writing and Rhetoric program cares about the growth of their students after they leave the program— creating long lasting connections with food, bingo, and networking opportunities.
April 17, 2020