Recently a few tutors reflected on their experiences as Writing Center tutors. Here are two different perspectives. One is from a senior who has worked at the Writing Center for almost three years, and the others is written by someone who just started working there this semester.
Sixth and Final Semester
As I am writing this, I have just begun my sixth and final semester as a Writing Center tutor. The time really has flown by, but if I take a step back and think about these past 3 years as a tutor, I realize just how much I have changed as a result of my time here. I think about my experiences at the Writing Center as impacting two distinct areas: my career, and my life.
For my career, the impact is easy to see. Talking about working in the Writing Center has been the baseline of so many successful interviews I’ve gone on, simply because there is so much to be said about the skills and abilities that tutoring has given me. I could spend an entire interview talking about how tutoring has prepared me to deal with different types of people, how it has taught me to read emotions and body language while adjusting accordingly, and how it has improved my workplace interpersonal skills. (I’m not saying I have spent an entire interview on this, but honestly, I’ve come close.)
Looking at my life outside of my career, I see a lot of the same interpersonal skills I’ve gained at the Writing Center being useful. But beyond that, my time at the Writing Center has taught me to think about things differently, not just in my writing but in my interactions with others. Without a doubt, I can say that I am a much better writer after having worked here for 3 years, but I also value writing more than I did when I first began this job. We recently had an assignment at a staff meeting to free-write by hand, and ever since I have caught myself thinking about what handwriting means and how important it is. The writing center has also provided me with a new network of friends and colleagues, both in school and after graduation. I was once even connected with a person on LinkedIn because we both mentioned the Bentley Writing Center in our bios. While this connection is just one example, the Writing Center has provided me great friends and people that I know I will stay in contact with after I graduate in a few short months. Without a doubt, the Writing Center has impacted my life in college, and I can’t imagine my time at Bentley without thinking about the time I spent in the Writing Center.
This is my first semester working at the Writing Center, and a few minutes ago, I just finished my very first conference with a student. At first, I was a little nervous, but once the conference was fully underway, my nerves disappeared. I just focused on engaging in conversation with the writer and helping him to the best of my ability. The rest came naturally.
To me, working at the Writing Center means not only helping others improve their writing, but also learning how to develop my own style as a Writing Center tutor. I am also a GB112/212 and MA123/126 tutor for the Office of Academic Services, so I feel that a major part of my job will be finding a way to balance the two different experiences. Since math-based subjects are so different from writing, I need to approach the tutoring sessions very differently. With math, there is only one right and an infinite number of wrongs. On the other hand, almost anything is possible in writing. Of course, some grammatical errors are wrong, but a paper in itself can never be viewed as entirely “wrong.” At the same time, a paper can never be perfect because there is always a way to improve it. In working with writing students, I need to remember to keep this in mind. My goal as a Writing Center tutor is to be a reader, not a writer. I’ll leave the writing to the writer.