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How I Enhanced My Writing Skills Through My MS in Communication Project Work

Author: Catherine Whitlock, Online Master of Science in Communication Student

During my time in the online Master of Science in Communication program, I’ve had the opportunity to work on several projects that I’m passionate about –

1.)    Internal communication during organizational change
2.)    Analyzing the CDC’s crisis communication response to Ebola
3.)    And more!

However, one project stands above all the others: the final project for my professional writing class. This class was of course heavy on writing, and I was intimidated by the syllabus at first. Despite having worked as a news editor for five years, I’d always thought of myself as a slow, methodical writer.

Not anymore though; the professional writing course gave me both the practice and confidence I needed. We wrote everything from speeches to media kits, and assembled our finished products into online portfolios. I had wanted to build a website to display my design and writing portfolios for years, but never found the time. This course helped me take the plunge and create the site – which, to my surprise, is already yielding some freelance opportunities.

The professional writing course’s final project was timed perfectly for me. In the final week of the class, my organization (the National Parkinson Foundation) found itself in the middle of a media blitz when Parkinson’s disease hit the news cycle. It was all hands on deck for our small communication team, and I suddenly found myself pumping out press releases, blog articles, and more. Thanks to my professional writing course, I was able to write much faster than before and meet my organization’s needs better than ever.

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Catherine Whitlock is a student in Purdue’s online Master of Science in Communication degree program. The program can be completed in just 20 months and covers numerous topics critical for advancement in the communication industry, including crisis communication, social media engagement, focus group planning and implementation, survey design and survey analysis, public relations theory, professional writing, and communication ethics.

About the Author
Catherine (Cathy) Whitlock joined the National Parkinson Foundation (NPF) in 2010. As Director of Online Communications, she directs and executes the digital communications strategy to further the mission of the foundation and increase awareness of Parkinson’s disease. Prior to working at NPF, she worked as Senior Editor, Latin American Markets at PR Newswire Association, LLC, focusing on financial, medical and nonprofit news of the region. She also served as a design software teacher at the University of Miami Digital Media Lab. Cathy is currently working on her Master’s Degree in Strategic Communication from Purdue University and anticipates graduating in December 2016.

*Disclaimer: Course content and outcomes may vary and are subject to change without notice.