We writing tutors can all appreciate how difficult it is to explain to outsiders everything that goes into our art. Plus, it’s one of the ironies of the job that we always seem to have an easier time helping others with their writing than with our own, particularly the kind of reflective writing that goes into applying for future jobs.
It distresses me when I see fellow tutors struggle to capture the richness of their work experience for other audiences. When you look at the way many tutors represent themselves on their résumés, it’s pretty common to see stuff like this in the job description under “TUTOR”:
- “Read and commented on drafts of student papers.”
- “Consult with students on their writing.”
- “Tutor fellow students’ writing.”
When I read these, I think, “Of course you read some students’ papers and gave them suggestions: that’s what tutoring is, isn’t it?” These tutors don’t do themselves justice by so grossly understating the job. The challenge, as I said earlier, is capturing everything that goes into something as deceptively simple as tutoring. Here are some guidelines I want to offer as a way of harnessing the complexity in your own résumé’s bullet points.
- Think about the diversity of students you work with. At least at a college like DePaul, our tutors regularly work with adult returning students, international English-language learners, faculty, graduate students, and undergraduate students.
- Consider the length of time you’ve worked as a tutor and how many papers you’ve workshopped in that time. For veterans of DePaul’s Writing Center, that could be as many as 500 tutorials. Concrete numbers in your bullet points can lodge themselves in your audience’s head.
- Now reflect on how you actually start a tutorial. How do you create a productive environment? How do you set an agenda? In what ways do you meld together theory and past experience? These moments illustrate what kind of worker you are.
- Think about what kinds of strategies you turn to when you’re tutoring. Do you model things for writers? Do you use the Socratic method? How do you get writers to open up and talk?
- What sort of administrative work do you perform as part of your job? Do you do any record-keeping? How do you stay organized? Do you assess yourself after each tutorial? Do you assess other colleagues? If so, how do you push yourself to learn from those critical moments?