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APTW conference showcases student projects

Scott Kowalski, an RPW professor, spoke at the Association of Professional and Technical Writing mini-conference about future changes to the RPW major. Vanguard Photo | Kyle Will

On Friday, April 5, in various rooms in Curtiss Hall, the Association of Professional and Technical Writers (APTW) hosted their 11th annual mini-conference.

This year’s theme was Technical Writers as Problem Solvers.

The event was broken into four different sessions and consisted of a speech from the keynote speaker, Trevor Baranek an SVSU alumni.

The first and second sessions were the professional and technical writing (PTW) students giving presentations on projects they’d been working on.

One presentation given during the second session was from Matthew Hintz, who spoke on the importance of making a contract in freelance work as well as promoting yourself as a professional.

“We’re not just students, we’re professionals,” Hintz said. “And the faster we start thinking of ourselves that way, the faster we start carrying ourselves that way.”

Hintz also gave advice to those going into freelance work.

“As a freelancer, you’re going to hear a lot that you’re getting paid in exposure,” Hintz said. “That is a lie. It’s a tactic they use because they don’t value our work as professionals.”

Imari Tetu, a PTW senior and the president of the APTW, hopes that attendees would be inspired by the projects.

“I’m hoping the takeaway is a better perspective on our specific projects and also some ideas about how they can approach similar projects in the future,” Tetu said.

According to Tetu, attendees got a chance to see what some PTW alumni did after graduation.

“This year, we had a mix of both industry professionals and graduate students,” Tetu said. “So, people got to hear from both sides, their different journeys, their experiences.”

The final two sessions of the event were a faculty panel talking about the recent changes made to the PTW program and an alumni panel where attendees could ask questions.

Bradley Herzog, a professor of rhetoric and professional writing, said the changes were long overdue.

“We’ve been kind of stuck at a plateau for 10 years because the program hasn’t changed,” Herzog said. “We really needed to change it and adapt to keep up with what’s going on in the workplace, with what’s going on in the profession.”

Herzog believes the changes will be beneficial to the current and future PTW students, but they may be initially difficult.

“I’m excited about the changes,” Herzog said. “The challenge will be the transition because everything was implemented so quickly that everybody’s kind of struggling to come to terms with it right now, but I think it’s good that we’re starting early because then we can adapt.”

Herzog was proud of how the event went, and he even learned new things himself.

“I’ve learned a lot (Friday),” Herzog said. “It’s been fun to hear about people celebrating their projects and what they’re learning and what they’re reflecting on. So, I’m hoping that we’ll have many more conferences in the future.”

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