Alison Ross's Guide to the Professional Writing and Communication Program

Edited by Sophia Savva

University courses can be tough to navigate. If you are at a campus like the University of Toronto, get ready to feel lost at times. And if you are taking writing courses, finding the strength to write personal stories and do research for your portfolio is often stressful.

Alison Ross, a recent graduate from University of Toronto, shares her experience in the Professional Writing and Communication program and gives tips to future students.

The First Day is Nerve-wracking

Regardless of your program, the first day of uni is always scary. Everybody has their own first-day horror story, and Alison's wasn't an exception. After Frosh Week, she went to Medieval Times Diner, and the lady server told Alison, "Congratulations on starting university. Maybe when you'll graduate, you'll have a huge student loan, and you'll come work at Medieval Times."

"It was a bit traumatizing for the 18-year-old me," says Alison.


Sharing Stories is Scary, but Worth It

When one of her writing professors asked her to present her story in front of the class, saying Alison was nervous would be an understatement.

"I swear to God, I was on the auto-pilot mode when speaking to the class. Words were coming out of my mouth, but my mind was just like, cursing profanity," says Alison. "And when I was done, I looked up and everybody was done giving me edits and telling me the things they liked about my story, I kept forgetting everybody's name. At one point, I even forgot the professor's name."

That experience also taught Alison not to care about what people think because that will lead you nowhere.


Don't Publish Only for the Sake of Resume Building

Alison's published her book, Nothing Happens, Everything Happens "for the sake of building my resume, but don't do that."

Alison suggests writing for the school newspaper or for writing journals. "Writing a whole book for the sake of a resume builder is too much of a commitment, especially if you are only in your undergrad. Some people love the process, but make sure you are committed."

Even if you don't publish your writing, it helps you grow as a person, and not just a writer, says Alison.