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Bryant writer/editor and mascot visit CCRI
May 30, 2013
Christina Senecal, a professional writer and editor, has a message for college students preparing to enter the job market: It may take you some time to figure out what you really want to do for a career, and that’s OK as long as you are networking and working hard.
Senecal visited the Community College of Rhode Island recently to talk about careers in writing but her presentation had some lessons for all job seekers. She also brought along Tupper the bulldog, the mascot of Bryant University, where she works.
“Most people tell you it’s really easy to figure out what you want to do for a living but it takes a while,” Senecal said. “It takes experience to figure out what you really want to do.”
Senecal said that networking is important for students and new graduates, no matter what field they are considering. She added that the most effective way to build a network is to cultivate friendly relationships within your field or one you aspire to be in. New professionals should try to make these relationships cordial, and not just focused on what can be gained through them.
“I think every student should be good at that … genuinely being interested in other people is good for networking,” she said.
Building a professional network can help people hear about job openings and stay abreast of developments in a field.
Another way to stay in the know is through social media, as more and more interactions are now occurring virtually. “That’s where things are moving,” Senecal said.
As a writer and editor, Senecal shared a lot of advice for people interested in a career in writing. The most important thing, she said, is to be familiar with the rules of proper English grammar.
“Once you know the rules, you can know when to break them,” she said.
She was referring to certain situations, particularly in the marketing and advertising fields, in which professional writers want to use more conversational language. Senecal said writers always need to keep their audience in mind and write in a way that will appeal to them.
At Bryant, Senecal uses a slightly different tone when writing for an audience of alumni (established business professionals) than she does for students. Her tone changes even further when she writes in the voice of Tupper the dog.
Tupper is the official mascot of the University, purchased by Bryant President Ronald Machtley and his wife as a gift to the school. Senecal, who already owned two French bulldogs, agreed to adopt Tupper.
The dog attends every Bryant University athletics home game and has a big role to play to help market the university. Tupper’s lighthearted Twitter, Facebook and other social media pages are a way for Bryant University staff to reach out to students. Tupper has become a popular source for campus news – an example of the importance of knowing your audience.
“You have to put yourself inside the head of your reader,” Senecal said.
Senecal visited CCRI thanks to the Charles Sullivan Fund for the Arts and Humanities. Her visit was arranged by Assistant English Professor Leslie Dolan, who brings a professional writer to campus each year to talk to students about how writing relates to his or her career.