University of Minnesota
center for writing

Center for Writing alumni—Elizabeth Braatz

read another alum's response

11 Questions for Center for Writing Alums

  • Your name: Elizabeth Braatz
  • Your email:
  • When did you work with us? 2015-2017
  • What was your role? writing consultant, front desk/computer lab attendant
  • What education and/or occupation(s) have you pursued since working with us? Butterfly Conservation Technician

Reflections on your center experience

  • Did your work with us influence your educational or occupational choices? If so, how? Absolutely. Working as a writing consultant opened doors for me that I had never planned. Writing is an almost universal skill. This job not only was very fulfilling by itself, but it proved to be very useful job experience for future internships and positions. For example, my experience at the writing center was directly responsible for my later job as a content writer for the Regional Sustainable Development Partnerships newsletter (they're an amazing group, check them out!). It also made me more competitive for jobs with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service that required a lot of writing, and later on, it helped me get a dream job of working to promote the conservation of pollinators.
  • What are the most significant abilities, values, or skills that you developed in your work with us? Gosh, so many! It’s hard to choose. I guess I’ll do one hard skill and one squishy one.

    Firstly, the writing center made me a better, more analytic writer. They say that teaching someone a skill is one of the best ways to get better yourself, and it’s true. Focusing on other people’s writing allowed me to take a step back and notice patterns and mistakes that I do, too.

    However, perhaps more importantly, the writing center taught me a consulting philosophy. We aren’t teachers. We’re consultants. We’re on a journey with our clients, and we want to improve their papers, but we also want to help them improve as writers. I learned just as much from my clients as they did from me. I think this mindset was one of the most important takeaways. Being able to empathize with people who are struggling and help them improve (and improve yourself!) is an incredibly powerful skill, at almost all jobs and almost all levels.
  • In your personal and professional life today, how do you find yourself using what you learned from working with us? On a professional level…well, this feels like shameless self promotion, but I just helped publish my first paper! I think it’s reasonable to say that, besides my fabulous coauthors, the writing center really helped hone my research and writing skills.

    On a more personal level, I think that that the writing center made me a more confident person. Seeing the joy in someone’s face after a good session is a magical experience, definitely up there with unicorns and rainbows. It’s a crazy feeling, seeing that lightbulb go on and thinking, whooa, I helped make that happen. Empowering others to be better writers empowered myself.
  • Anything else you want to tell us and your fellow Center alums? To my fellow former Center alums, thank you! Thank you for the snacks on top of the water cooler. Thank you for your brutally honest and super helpful feedback from writing consultant class. Thank you for putting up with all my hastily written wrap-up comments about how I focused on grammar during the session, all written with terrible grammar. Thank you for helping make my experience at the writing center wonderful.

    To the current Center employees, welcome! I wish you the very best. If you’re a student like me preparing for a career after college, please feel free to use me as a resource and send me an email. I’m definitely still learning, but I’m always happy to share what I’ve learned or hear what you hope to do.

    In conclusion, to quote the excellent Douglas Adams, so long, and thanks for all the fish.