To New Beginnings and Developing at WNET

ovenmittTwo years, six months, and seventeen days ago I got off a plane at LaGuardia Airport with a backpack and two giant suitcases. I got in a taxi and we sped (well, probably no more than forty miles an hour, but you get the point) towards Brooklyn. I moved to New York less than two months after college, two weeks after returning from traveling abroad solo, to start my first job as Digital Marketing Associate at JCC Association.

After two years, six months, and three days as a working professional, I hugged my colleagues goodbye and took my cubical decorations and paperwork home. The very next day, I took my Michigan oven mitt and a three legged chanchitos figurine (thanks Alex, Sarah, and Tom) to my new job at WNET (also known as Channel Thirteen). I accepted a position as Associate Web Developer (sometimes in official paperwork known as Web Engineer), beginning the day after I left.

Over the past year, I had decided I really loved building for WordPress and wanted to focus on becoming a better developer. That being said, my resume still spoke volumes to my marketing and community management abilities, more than my technical skills. While I decided in the spring to start looking for a new position, I decided I would apply on both sides of my skill spectrum. I knew my next position would probably help steer the rest of my career, which was extraordinarily nerve wracking. I knew what I wanted, but I also knew that without a computer science degree or a host of previous developer roles I was at a huge disadvantage. Read more

Writing in Different Spaces

As you may (or may not) have noticed, I’m not a frequent updater of this blog. I post when events relevant to my professional life are happening. I also use this blog to write about my travels and other adventures. But, this is not the only place that I write on the web.

A friend from Professional Writing, Ashley Haglund, suggested to several of our fellow alumni that we write a blog together. She called it “Grammar. Style. Life.“; it’s a space for all of us to write about being a young professional as well as various other important life moments. So far, it’s been a great experience. It’s a great excuse to make our semi-regular Google Hangouts into a regular conversation. We certainly won’t cover all of our personal lives within the blog, but a lot of conversation is continuing outside of it. We maintain a group Facebook chat just to keep up.

That’s just one of the spaces I contribute to. Occasionally, I write alumni posts for Writing, Rhetoric, & American Cultures at Michigan State University. I write blog posts on JCC Association’s extranet,, related to marketing and the web with a JCC perspective. I also have taken to write pieces that are a touch more personal on Medium. Each blog has it’s own tone, but all are just different partitions of my voice (hat tip to Chelsea Beck for this great infographic that explains the difference).

Voice vs. Tone Infographic

Read more

Defining Digital Rhetoric

What is digital rhetoric?

This is a difficult question to answer. There are so many facets to explore, all coming back to the choices made by the author for their audience.

This piece was created with non-expert, digital natives in mind. I used a program called Spicy Nodes, which allows me to create granular pieces that are all a part of digital rhetoric. Take yourself on a self-guided journey through the ideas of digital rhetoric. Navigate to any node to learn more about a specific part of my definition. Each node will lead you to smaller sub-sections, all adding to an overall understanding. Read more

Who Owns Creativity Pt 2

Yesterday, I started my series about “owning” creative works. Today will be a much shorter complimentary entry that will help explain your rights when it comes to copyright as well as some basic best practices.

Rights & Responsibilities

In the US we’re given certain affordances. For example, when we create works of art expressly for ourselves, on our own time… we own the copyright. This is essential in the digital age, when many artists are posting their material online without going to register their copyright at the U.S. Copyright office. If we want to use others’ copyrighted materials, we are responsible for asking the artist for permission. The only way to navigate against asking for permission is when a work is used under the guidelines of Fair Use.

Ok, so what is fair use?

Ah yes, the age old question. Fair use is the use of copyrighted material without express permission from the copyright owner for a limited/”transformative” purpose. Standford University breaks down fair use of copyrighted materials into two categories: 1) Commentary/Criticism or 2) parody. Why are these two items allowed? Read more

PW’s Trip to Founders Brewing Company

This post was originally featured on

East Lansing Beer Rhetoricians may recognize me, but just in case: Oh hey there. My name is Alexandra (some call me Ali), and I am the Beer Rhetorics Evangelist. What does that mean exactly? Evangelists (according to the third definition on Merriam-Webster) are enthusiastic advocates for a brand/product/etc. Beer Rhetorics Evangelism is all about talking to people and spreading the love for our weekly meetups, beer, and rhetoric. I’m happy to be the first person in this position.

As a part of evangelism, I am responsible to reaching out to different venues and subsets of people. After multiple discussions over the summer, it was clear we were hankering for something more than what was being done. We wanted to take Beer Rhetorics on the road. Conveniently, an alumni of the Professional Writing program at MSU, Sarah Aldrich, happens to work as the Marketing Coordinator at one of our favorite Michiagn breweries: Founders Brewing Company, located in Grand Rapids. Thursday nights often feature a Red’s Rye PA or the classic Porter. We got to enjoy the beer in the brewery (rated 2nd in the world for 2011 by where it all happens.

Dave Engbers, A founder of Founders

We arrived at Founders on a crisp, Friday afternoon. After enjoying an early beer in the tap room, we were met by Sarah Aldrich… and none other than a founder of Founders (say that five times fast), Dave Engbers. Dave greeted us and proceeded to take us back to where all of the magic happens.

Founders Brewing Company was established by Dave Engbers and Mike Stevens in 1997, after they graduated from Hope College. They both loved brewing and had been home brewing for a number of years. When they started Founders, they were brewing “regular beers.” “We were just like every other craft brewery in Michigan,” said Dave. He recognized they weren’t necessarily doing anything super special, just brewing because they loved it. The market share was small and their backers didn’t feel like there was a lot of success. Realizing they were about to hit bankruptcy, Dave and Mike decided to go big… or go home. They brewed the first batch of Dirty Bastard… and their board thought it was their “goodbye” brew.

Alas, that would not be it for the tale of Founders. Dirty Bastard, a strong scotch ale, became an instant hit. People clamored for it loudly, and the signs were clear: Founders Brewing was back in business.

Dave continued to take us through the history of Founders, including the development of beers that are “complex, in-your-face ales, with huge aromatics, bigger body, and tons of flavor.” They regularly have the Dirty Bastard on tap along with the Centennial IPA, the Porter, and the Red’s Rye PA. They also have exciting seasonal beers, such as their famous Breakfast Stout (which smells of coffee and chocolate), Double Trouble, Cerise, and so many more. The tap room regularly features beers that aren’t bottled for the public and are being tested to their local fans.

Dave showed us the bottling center of their brewery, as well as the bourbon barrels that were aging Canadian Breakfast Stout. It was great to get an insight on how the process worked, as well as meet the people who were working behind the scenes.

When Dave finished showing us the brewery, we got a tour of the offices by Sarah Aldrich. We saw where all of the big hitting decisions were made. All of this was, of course, followed by a long visit to the tap room, where we enjoyed a variety of different beers. The tap room was full of people (particularly bustling because it was, after all, happy hour). It was clearly a friendly place, where loyal visitors knew the bartenders’ names and sat comfortably side by side. The patio was open air, perfect for a September day. We instantly felt comfortable, as if we had been going to the Brewery every Friday afternoon for years. After all, Beer Rhetorics is not just about the history and passion for beer; it’s about making connections and communicating with one another. We learned a lot about brewing, the struggles of being a business, and the excitement of creative marketing that comes with such forward flavors. Even better: we spent time with each other, enriching our Beer Rhetorics community, beyond the walls of East Lansing’s usual hot spot.

I think I speak for the entire group when I say, we couldn’t have asked for a better way to spend a Friday afternoon. Oh, and we have the pictures to prove it. Hopefully, more field trips will be happening in the future to other local breweries. We encourage all of our offshoots to find places near them that are crafting beer for little excursions. We promise, it will be worth it.

Who Owns Creativity

We are in the middle of something of a war here — what some call “the copyright wars.”

-Laurence Lessig, “In Defense of Piracy”

Let me start off by saying: intellectual property is indeed something that needs to be protected. I understand and am thankful as an artist for Article 1, Section 8, Clause 8 of the US Constitution. Without such a law, there would be several consequences, including the difficulty of being able to profit from your own work and an inability to claim something definitively as “yours” for future use. Furthermore, it would eliminate  a sense of ownership and pride in creation, while creating a possible fear of sharing work. I am thankful that I can call my work my own and benefit from it.

Although there are a variety of types of intellectual property, this series will focus strictly on copyright. Copyright protects tangible works of individuals/groups/companies such as books, music, video games, software, and movies. The copyright allows the author(s) to distribute and profit from their work. Read more

The Importance of a Good Adviser | Spartan Connect

This is a cross-post from my blog on Spartan Connect. Check out the original post here.

For the past few weeks, I had been going through a life crisis revolving around graduation:
When should I graduate? How will I get a job? What if I DON’T get a job? Can I afford to move back home (mentally)? Can I afford to stay in East Lansing (financially)? I’ve never been to Europe, and it seems like I’ll never have the time again, would it be irresponsible just to go? I’ve been crazy this summer working a billion jobs, can I keep that going?

All of those questions and more had been swirling in my mind for weeks, when I decided: I need to see my adviser(s).

I’m lucky. In my department, I not only have a top notch adviser, Danielle DeVoss (who, anyone will tell you, they leave their office with “stars in [their] eyes”), but I also consider her my friend. Furthermore, I also have a great relationship with the head of PW, Laura Julier. I know that if I need life advice, they’re both more than willing to help.

Laura Julier

The total of three hours I spent in their respective offices last week (2 and a half of which, were after 5PM) were the most enlightening and helpful hours I’ve had. I had my feelings justified and left with to-do lists of how I was going to accomplish all of my goals. Although I had spoken of my life-fears to friends, they could only do so much to help me.

Finding a good adviser is not only essential to your college career, but can completely change the decisions you make. When I was a theater major, I never quite developed a rapport with my advisers. Perhaps it was because my focus changed from acting to theater, and then I decided to get a BA not a BFA, which puts you at an adviser disadvantage. Because of all of that, I was off-track and un-happy. Read more

Candice Ransom

In October of 2010, I was charged to write a paper about my literacy for Writing Center Theory. I thought back to the first books I could remember reading, and my memories distinctly went to the book, “Who Needs Third Grade” by Candice Ransom. My first copy was falling apart from the amount of times I read it, bringing it to the dinner table and to the playground. I was completely set on becoming just like the main character’s archnemesis, Delight.

I know what you’re thinking. Archnemesis? What little girl wants that? I don’t want to ruin the surprise, but they end up best friends in the end.

I did a little internet investigating to see if I could find a way to contact her. I was pleasantly surprised to see she had a pretty active (and relatively well designed) website, including an email address to send fan letters. How could I resist?

I didn’t know if she would ever get it, or even if she did, if she’d ever respond. Imagine my surprise when I checked my email the next day, and a reply with my subject line was sitting in my inbox. Read more

Senior Portfolios

It’s amazing to think that in one year, I’ll be graduating. I can’t believe I’ve already been at Michigan State for three years, and all of the things I’ve experienced. Last week, I watched (some of) the Professional Writing seniors present their final portfolios, which they will put on their resumes to show the awesome work they’ve created. There are so many blog entries, graphic designs, websites, and various other pieces demonstrating how well PW has prepared them for the real world. I’m in awe. I’ll miss them every day that they’re gone, and hope that we will work together again soon.

Some of the best portfolios come from my friends:

Laurel Sutherland is searching for a job in communications/pr/graphic design. She had PW as a secondary major, with her primary major as the Residential College of Arts and Humanities (RCAH). We were interns together at WRAC in the fall of 2010.

Hannah Ettema is looking for a job in communications management, with travel and nature as her interests.

Joel Heckaman has had copious experiences with project management, organizing several events with local music. He was the head honcho for Jamming for Japan.

Devon Barrett is currently writing a romance novel and will be heading to the Denver Publishing Institute in July. She also actively maintains a blog.

There are so many more fantastic seniors. Hopefully, I’ll be able to give a link to a list of portfolios soon.