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Friday, August 27th, 2010 - 10:30 am

My experience for a lifetime

Learning the ‘write’ stuff came experientially for her

When I graduated from high school, the first thing I did, before even registering for classes at Purdue University Calumet, was head over to the student newspaper, The Chronicle.

I think I had my first assignment and was already busy learning the ropes and meeting a ton of new people before I had walked into my first class.

My task of building a writing portfolio that I hoped would impress an editor enough someday to hire me for my first job was underway.

That first job came sooner than I expected. It wasn’t a writing job, but rather that of newspaper designing, a handy little skill I had picked up. Noticing how well I could zoom around on the computer creating pages, a professor dropped my name as someone who could make quick decisions on deadline.

Erika Rose
The experience of writing for her university continues for Rose.

I got to write stuff once in awhile when I wasn’t pounding out pages. When I did, my byline said “staff writer,” which made me feel very accomplished. I distinctly remember strutting confidently through the newsroom thinking about how cool it was that here I already had my first REAL job, the kind that was related to my field, the kind that would be a springboard to my next job. Graduation was still semesters away.

Who needed that residential college campus experience I thought I was missing out on? Looking back, staying here really was a better choice. Here, I was surrounded by the most diverse group of people – worldly, knowledgeable (and fun) people from every age group and background. I didn’t really realize it at the time, but these folks – and those from that first job — were teaching me how to deal with people in the working world. I was learning tact, diplomacy, conflict resolution, discipline, time management, a strong work ethic. I’m not sure I would have gotten all that as just another 19-year-old in a lecture hall.

Experiential learning is the cornerstone of today’s Purdue Calumet education. While that term wasn’t part of the vocabulary when I was earning my degree in the early 90s, that’s what I was getting, and that’s what stands out as the most valuable part of my education. The Chronicle was only the beginning. I also had a role in a public relations “agency,” formed as part of a public relations course, and I was part of team that created an advertising campaign that we presented, just like real advertising pros.

Today, those articles from my college days are at the bottom of a 10-pound stack of pages. Many of the folks who are on my list of references today are the ones who connect me still to Purdue Calumet.

Here I am, nearly two decades later, still writing for MY university.