Worth the written talent

November 5th, 2015


Small, liberal arts colleges take pride in the well roundedness of their academic curriculum. Regardless of their fields of study, all students are required to take a myriad of humanities courses, from the social sciences to theology, that train them to read critically and write cohesively.


John Carroll is no exception. We go to a very writing-intensive university. Though sometimes we all wish that the core at JCU would be a little less involved (like when it is 3:00 a.m. and you are frustratingly trying to bang out a paper for your 300-level philosophy class), writing is an invaluable skill for young workers in any job field—a lesson that I have been learning again and again as I apply for internships and fellowships.


Yes, knowing how to write is hugely important for ambitious job applicants that hope to set themselves apart from the competition. But there is a particular skill that I feel every millennial should have in their writing arsenal by the time they graduate—web and content writing.


Think about it: every business, every product and every line of work has a website. This will not change once we graduate, and it certainly won’t change in years to come. An institution’s online presence can have a huge impact in its relative success or failure, and all companies need people who are savvy in blogging, Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and content writing.


Now, communications and marketing majors are doubtlessly already studying these disciplines. However, we all should know at this point in our educational careers that graduates oftentimes find work in fields that are not directly related to their college major. Here’s an example. Since last semester, I have had a part-time job/paid internship at a factoring company in Beachwood (factoring is a form of alternative financing, by the way). It is a small company with only nine full-time employees, three of whom comprise the marketing team. The interesting part about our marketing team is, of the three-person full-time squad, none of them studied marketing in college. In fact, none of them even studied business. All of them studied something within the humanities, completely unrelated to factoring, finance or marketing.


But they can all write well. In fact, during the interviewing process the company values the art of writing so much that they like a writing-intensive humanities major (English, Political Science, History, etc.) just as much as marketing or communication degree. And while I would wager that none of them anticipated working in the marketing team of a small factoring company when they were college students, they enjoy what they do.


I was in a similar boat when I started my position last semester. When I applied, I knew nothing about factoring, I knew nothing about marketing and I hadn’t really ever heard of SEO. The application merely stressed that they were looking for a college kid that could write and was proficient with a computer. The lion’s share of the application process was an examination of my writing—they told me to sit down, gave me a prompt, told me to write in a blog-format and find good sources. I learned the rest of the more specific skills after I started working.


Since then, I have learned a great deal about SEO, content writing, blogging and online marketing. I can tell you that, as I have been contacting recruiters for internships and fellowships for next summer, just about every one has asked me about my content writing experience (bear in mind that these are not for marketing internships).


From what I have noticed, writing is an indescribably pragmatic skill. It is so important that I would even suggest that schools start teaching web writing a part of their core. So the next time you are pulling your hair out over an essay, remember that knowing how to compose a paper, a blog or even a tweet can sometimes be the difference between landing and losing a job.