FAQs Becoming a Writing Consultant
Frequently Asked Questions: Becoming a Writing Consultant
If you're interested in seeking a position at the Writing Center, but you want to know what the job is like, what it requires of you, and how you go about applying, browse the Frequently Asked Questions below.
Questions about the Work
1. What do writing consultants do? Consultants help writers think about how they might revise their writing. This means that consultants read student papers, or have students read them aloud. Consultants ask questions about those papers to help students clarify their focus, organize their writing, and support their ideas. Consultants assist students in identifying problem areas of grammar and punctuation. Because consultants are not teachers or editors, they don't grade or fix student papers. Rather, they ask questions and give feedback to students toward improving their writing.
2. Who do I consult with, and where? Consultants work one-to-one with students in the writing center, meeting students by appointment or on a drop-in basis. Our writing center locations include LOH 120 in Allendale, the Knowledge Market in the Mary Idema Pew library, and the Steelcase Library Knowledge Market in DeVos in downtown Grand Rapids. During drop-ins, writing consultants work with students across the disciplines. Writing consultants also work in WRT 150 classrooms, meeting with students one-to-one or in small groups. Upon request, we offer in-class workshops for faculty teaching SWS classes. We also offer online consulting via email and Google Docs/Meet.
3. Why would I want to be a consultant? There are many reasons! It's enjoyable to help others to write better. You'll have the opportunity to work closely with faculty in WRT 120/130, WRT 150, and SWS courses. You'll also have the opportunity to associate with a talented and creative group of colleagues doing meaningful work. And working so much with student-writers across campus helps you to improve your own writing and communication skills--very important in any profession you might have post-graduation.
4. When and where do I apply? The applications are due in March of each academic year, interviews will be held during exam week, and hiring decisions made in early May. For date-specific information, please check our hiring page.
Your application must be accompanied by a faculty recommendation and two writing samples that demonstrate your familiarity with academic writing conventions. We are interested in knowing about your ability to write for an academic audience and cite sources, as we tend to help writers primarily with academic, research-based writing. Therefore, we would prefer seeing pieces from you that incorporate research.
1. How many hours can I work? New undergraduate consultants can be scheduled to work anywhere from 8-12 hours per week during their first semester. In subsequent semesters/years, the expected number of hours is more flexible.
2. How will this job fit into my schedule? At the beginning of each semester, consulting hours are scheduled to fit around your classes and other commitments.
3. How much will I get paid? New undergraduate writing consultants will be paid $10.85 an hour, well above minimum wage. Consultants receive a wage increase after each year of successful employment.
4. I plan to spend a semester off-campus in a study-abroad program, or student assisting/teaching. Can I still apply to be a writing consultant? This question doesn't have an easy answer, so bear with this lengthy explanation! Almost all the training for new writing consultants happens in the fall, so you cannot be hired as a writing consultant if you will be gone in the fall semester. Because our training course (WRT 306) is only offered in the fall, there would be no way to complete consultant training. Also, there is a sharp learning curve in becoming an effective consultant, we do not typically hire students who will be here in the fall, then will study abroad in the winter, and then will graduate; in such a scenario, we wouldn't get to benefit from your intensive, semester-long training experience if you're only here during the semester of training.
If, however, you plan to study abroad in the winter term, but you will be back to work in the center the following year, that isn't usually a problem--please make this plan clear on your application. If you will be student assisting or student teaching during the academic year, you most likely will not have the scheduling flexibility to work as a writing consultant (most of our work hours occur during the day, when public schools are in session). Because of the amount of training involved, our preference is to hire someone who can give us a full year of a flexible work schedule. If your particular circumstance hasn't been addressed in this answer, feel free to call us at 331-2922 to ask us about it.
Training & Qualifications Questions
1. How do I learn to do the work of a consultant? You will be required to attend a two-day orientation before fall semester begins (typically we hold orientation on the Thursday and Friday before fall classes begin). You will also have weekly mentor group meetings, where you can discuss strategies and problems with other consultants. In addition, we require consultants to attend a few seminars during the academic year and a winter semester staff meeting to learn specific and specialized consulting skills. You will be paid for attending the orientations, seminars, staff meetings, and mentor group meetings.
During the fall semester you'll also need to satisfy an academic course requirement to learn more about the theory and research that informs our writing center consulting practices. WRT 306: Seminar for New Writing Consultants is a one-credit class that meets once per week for 50 minutes. We offer three sections of the course so that you can find one that accommodates your schedule. Your block tuition covers this course if you stay within the 12-15 credit hour range. If you choose to apply to become a writing center consultant, please save a space in your schedule for this class; we'll issue you a permit giving you permission to register once hiring decisions have been made.
2. How did I get recommended for consulting? The center asks faculty across campus, particularly faculty who teach SWS or writing intensive courses, to recommend students who are strong writers and good responders to their peers' writing.
If you are interested in becoming a consultant, you may obtain a recommendation from a faculty member on your own. Simply ask one of your professors to send an email to Lisa Gullo ( [email protected]), letting us know that he or she thinks you'd be a good consultant and why (a few sentences is fine). Be sure your professor includes in the email your full name and student number and the course number of the class you took from that professor.
Have other questions? Stop in and visit! Or call us at 331-2922.