The MSU Major and Career Exploration Project

MSU Major and Career Exploration, WRAC 101

Final Draft Due

The MSU Major and Career Exploration Project (Officially called the Disciplinary Literacy paper by the Department and Library) gives you the opportunity to explore ways to make the most of your education here at MSU and learn more about what is expected in the workplace upon graduation. It will allow you to learn more about your specific field in terms of job outlook, anticipated pay, opportunities for further development, and many other basic details of your targeted profession. It also allows you to analyze the research and rhetorical practices that occur within a specific field. (Communication skills such as reading and speaking and also, the types of research you may conduct to do your work.) This assignment may help you learn more about your intended career; or it may help you eliminate one of the possibilities that you have been considering. At the same time, it will give you the chance to learn about other disciplines as you work together with your peers.

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Length: Essay text should be 4 full to-6 pages, 12-point font, double-spaced. MLA Page does not count for fourth page. You may format your paper in a non-traditional way (newsletter, brochure, etc.) but the amount of text within such formatting needs to equal the same amount of text that would be in a minimum four page double spaced paper.

Research Requirement: 1. Brief overview of your major and anticipated discipline. 2.) At least one interview with someone working in the discipline/career you are writing about. In the interview with someone working in your discipline you will determine what kind of technical and physical skills are needed for this work plus what kinds of communication is used within the discipline.

Recommendedadditionalresearch: A second interview with someone working in the discipline. An interview with an advisor or professor in your discipline. An interview with a senior or graduate student majoring in your discipline who can give you information about resources on campus such as clubs or organizations that might be helpful to students in your discipline. An analysis of a web site or video from your discipline.

Audience:The purpose of your essay is to introduce high school seniors and MSU freshmen to the basic components of a specific discipline and to the ways in which information and research is gathered, assessed, and presented in this discipline. Most of these students are not aware of what it means to be a participating member of a discipline. Your essay should help them understand what basic components one can expect working in this discipline such as the work environment, pay, work hours, long-term job outlook, etc., and also what kind of communication and other skills they must have as they enter their chosen discipline.

Writer: Your responsibilities as a writer include finding reliable, representative research; analyzing it thoroughly; and presenting it in a clear, logical arrangement that is engaging, informative and helpful to your readers. (This is not a “copy and paste” paper.) You will be presenting a lot of material from outside sources, but it will be written in your voice. You must use MLA style to correctly document any quotations, summarized or paraphrased ideas, and statistics and facts taken from other sources

Documentation: All research must be documented with MLA citations and a Works Cited page.

Citations: Consult with Bruce Ballenger’s book “The Curious Researcher” pp. 223-263 throughout this project for information about how to cite your outside sources such the information you gather from the Career Web Sites provided on the MSU Course Guide, and your personal interviews you conduct for this project.


Analyze reference books and websites about the economic and quality of life issues related to your chosen field of work. (Expected salary, environment you will work in, where work is located, time commitments involved, possibilities for promotion, additional benefits available through your work, etc.) If you are a woman you should specifically investigate if this discipline has any traditional gender-related issues attached to it. (Hours that would be difficult for a woman to participate in if she decides to raise a family, or wage-gap issues.)This information is due in ELI on Tuesday, February 20 by your class time.

Determine who you will interview for this paper: The interview is the most important outside source in this paper. This person is your “expert” on helping your readers what it is like to work in this career. The interview should compromise about one third of your paper, if not half of it, so choose wisely. The interview allows you to get your voice into the paper. It is your unique contribution to a broader conversation about your career. Several years ago I had seventeen papers on Supply Chain Management. Virtually all of the basic information came from the same outside sources. What made each paper unique was the interview(s) that students conducted with people working in some capacity in supply chain. (One student interviewed three people.)

The interview can make or break your paper so you cannot wait until three days before the paper is due and try to locate a trauma surgeon to interview. You need to contact someone within the next week to two weeksto see if they will be able to answer questions regarding their discipline either in person, over the telephone, or through email.

Do an investigation of the types of literacies one would need to do well in the chosen field. For instance, if you are writing a paper on Accounting you should find out which reading/research skills are an important aspect for someone working in this field. What other skills must you have? What type of ways will you need to communicate to do your job successfully? Investigate what types of things someone in this discipline might read/research in order to stay current in the field.

Review MSU Website for your Major. Make note of requirements. Look for someone you might interview who is a junior or senior in your major, or even a graduate student. Check out University website for Clubs related to your major. Consider attending a meeting. You may find someone to interview by attending a club meeting.

Suggested Additional Information To Consider Including in Your Paper

You may wish to try to speak with one of your professors. In some areas professors are happy to cooperate. However, the Department of Business here at MSU has asked that we not send students to that college requesting interviews. (They were overwhelmed by these requests, particularly in the field of Finance.)

Supply Chain Majors can choose to attend one of two informational meetings that the department sets up for students trying to complete this assignment. The dates for Spring of 2018 are yet to be determined. I will email you when those dates are available.

Nursing Majors: The Nursing School has set up a series of “sessions” for nursing majors to meet members of the Nursing School. Here are the dates: Monday, Feb. 19 from 9:00 –10:00 a.m. in Room A20 of Life Science building Wednesday, February 21 from 4:00 to 5:00 p.m. in room A 230 of Life Science Building. Thursday, March 1 from 3:00-4:00 p.m. in room A 236 of Life Science Building. You must sign up for these sessions.

Go to and click on “students” up at the top left of the homepage. You will see “Faculty Interview Request” under “Academic Services” on the left hand side of the page. Whey you click on the interview request it will take you to the page where they can choose a date and register.


Component Total Point Value
Initial Research on Discipline 5 pts.
Possible Interview Questions 5 pts.
Trade Journal Analysis 5 pts.
ELI Participation (Peer Review) 5 pts.
Writer’s Memo 10 pts.
Final Draft of Disciplinary Literacy Paper 70 pts.