Emily Goodwin (she/her) is a Professional Writing alumnus (‘19) with a Master’s degree from York’s Education program. After a short stint in journalism, she changed careers and now works at a fast-paced marketing agency.
My journey to Professional Writing
When I applied to York in 2013, I didn’t even apply to Professional Writing. I loved the program’s booth at Fall Campus Day and thought the program would be the best way to break into the journalism career I desperately wanted, but my grade 12 English teacher told me I wasn’t cut out for a career as a writer.
So I didn’t apply. 17-year-old me did not want the failure of not being accepted into the program or flunking out. I opted to pursue York’s Political Science program instead because it would allow me to study something I was interested in while still being able to keep my writing skills sharp.
I took Professional Writing: An Introduction with Dr. Andrea McKenzie as an elective course in my first year. Describing it as mind-blowing and earth-shattering might still be the understatement of the century.
I was hooked on Professional Writing after taking that class. I switched to a major in Professional Writing and a minor in Political Science the following year.
In the end, I decided journalism wasn’t for me, but the skills I gained in my other Professional Writing courses enabled me to make the career switch to a freelance content marketing specialist and finally into my current permanent role at a marketing agency.
Making the most of my York experience
I paired my undergraduate studies with a lot of extra-curricular activities.
- York University Wind Symphony (bass clarinet FTW).
- York Lions track & field team
- York University Recreation Department
- Lifeguard & swim instructor (2015-2017)
- Aquatics & First Aid Program Representative (2016-2017)
- Peer Mentor Programs
- Mac Mentor (2015-2017)
- P.A.W.S peer mentor (2016-2019)
- Professional Writing Students’ Association
- Chief Financial Officer (2017-2018)
- President & Chief Financial Officer (2018-2019)
I had a few other stints with other student and sports clubs along the way, but these were the major ones that I spent the most time doing and played instrumental roles in my technical and interpersonal skill development.
What I got out of the Professional Writing program
The program is designed to make its students better writers and editors, and that’s exactly what I gained throughout my undergraduate studies. But, it went beyond spelling, grammar, punctuation, and style to encompass everything that makes someone a truly extraordinary writer.
Every course required research to some extent, and I think a lot of people can get thrown off by that when first entering the program. We’re trained in our early years that the written craft is a straightforward, linear pattern of having a thought and writing it down. Rinse and repeat.
But as those of us who have been or currently are in the program know, writing takes a whole lot more.
Writing well takes a lot of learning, researching, and soul-searching. Courses like Research for Professional Writers and Writing: Process and Practice gave me the foundations to inquire with focus and intent on research subjects and how to create a research plan prior to writing anything.
The keystone and capstone courses allowed me to apply almost everything I learned in the first two years in more real-world contexts ahead of graduation, which helped to hone my craft and improve my confidence in my ability to execute my skills.
The doors Professional Writing opened for me
In my final year of the PRWR program, I had the opportunity to undertake an independent reading study with Dr. Bell. I was able to use this time to research how language is used by reporters covering women’s sports — the perfect blend of my interests in sports and journalism.
Dr. Bell pushed me to write and submit an abstract for consideration at the upcoming Canadian Association for the Study of Discourse and Writing (CASDW) conference in 2019. It was absolutely terrifying, but I’m so glad she supported me through it.
My abstract was accepted and I spent the next six months writing my paper in full and creating my presentation for CASDW. As someone with an anxiety disorder, I never would’ve thought I’d be able to present my research to a crowd of seasoned academics, and I’m so grateful for Dr. Bell’s support and the rest of the department (Ron Sheese, Andrea McKenzie, Karen Ruddy, Dunja Baus, and Marlene Bernholz — to this day, I still remember you all were there for me in the audience!).
Presenting at CASDW is one of the hardest things I’ve done in my life, and knowing that has allowed me to really shift my mindset during tough situations and convince myself that speaking up in meetings or pitching new ideas is nowhere near as difficult as that presentation.
A few months after CASDW, I started in York’s Education graduate program. The strong research, writing, and organizational skills I gained from the Professional Writing program played a massive role in my academic success in this new program. Between that and my Professional Writing degree, I feel equipped to pursue my long-term goal of being a writing instructor in post-secondary education.
Currently, I work as the Digital Marketing Coordinator at Neon Supply, a fusion marketing agency based out of London, Ont. In this role, I’m responsible for both the agency’s marketing efforts and those of our clients. I write in different voices and styles for each one based on differences in customer personas, and I’m able to seamlessly switch between each one because of my training in the Professional Writing program.