“Calling transforms life so that even the commonplace and menial are invested with the splendor of the ordinary.” (Os Guinness, The Call)
My seventeen Professional Writing seniors are closing in on the end of their careers at Taylor. I’m privileged to be teaching what our program calls the “capstone” class — three credit hours together to “cap” their time at Taylor U and their time in our major.
It’s a daunting class — and this was the first time I’ve taught it.
From the start, I knew the class needed to have a writing element, it needed some self-inventory, it needed some interview and job hunt practice and information, and it needed some “adulting” conversations. Three solid weeks, 3-1/2 hours per day. And I wanted all of it to feel practical and meaningful and purposeful.
And that’s what I’ve tried to do.
One day, we talked about our “callings,” considering the definition in Os Guinness’s classic book. How calling can be to many types of work, not just “Christian” work per se. How calling can be simply to finding splendor in the ordinary. How calling can change the world in small ways. How calling, with the acknowledgement of a Caller, gives meaning to life. That was the initial part of our self-inventory.
Then we did what one of my colleagues calls “the red thread.” Each student went through all of the classes taken at Taylor, noting what they liked and didn’t about each — trying to understand how they like to learn, how they learn best regarding type of class, type of instruction, type of content, etc. This traces a “thread” that serves to remind them of the many types of information and skills they’ve gained across these four years.
A highlight was a bus trip to Grand Rapids to visit Zondervan Publishing House, RBC (Our Daily Bread and Discovery House Publishers), and lunch with author Travis Thrasher. The students were encouraged that many of the folks in jobs they hope to have got there in convoluted ways while learning much about themselves along the way.
The Zondervan folks were incredibly welcoming, even offering us a panel discussion. They shared with my students about their pathways to their “dream job.”
In the lobby at Zondervan. The mission statement applies to my students as well.
Travis Thrasher has gone from being an employee at a publisher to being a full-time writer. We enjoyed hearing about his fiction writing and ghostwriting.
At RBC (Our Daily Bread and Discovery House), we learned about their incredible worldwide ministry, got to see their printing presses in action, and heard from two editors who told about their pathways to where they are today.
The takeaway? Be patient. Try on a lot of jobs. Learn what you can wherever you are. Network with people and let them know the kind of work you’re looking for.
And this was pretty much just week one. I’m excited to watch my students get excited about their possibilities for the future. They are well prepared to become publishing professionals.
Stay tuned for more adventures in Professional Writing capstone!