Informal (memo-style) proposal reportIn this first stage of the two-part report sequence, you will begin to explore the practical workplace problem that your client (in this case, me) needs to solve: weak student participation in professional communication internships in the English department.
Like most workplace problems, this one is multifaceted, ill-defined, and “open”: that is, it’s not easy to determine what things are “part of the problem” and what are not. So, before developing solutions, you need to be sure that you grasp the nature of the problem itself, the context (or contexts) in which it exists, and what opportunities, constraints, or other variables can affect it.
Your client (that’s me, in my program director role) has asked you to help him solve the problem. So, by the time you’re done, you will have produced a (hopefully) workable solution and a plan for how to implement that solution. But before we get there, you’ll need to decide upon your approach and then obtain permission to proceed with that approach. So your rhetorical purpose is primarily to inform, but also, perhaps, to generate trust and faith in your capabilities.
Brent Henze, director of the Professional Communication Internship Program
To clarify the scope of the problem you’ve been asked to solve
To summarize your research strategy
To solicit feedback from your client (me) regarding your approach
To request permission to proceed with the project.
Memo-style proposal to create a communications plan for the Professional Communication internship program
Aim for 500 to 1,000 words.
Constraints to consider as you develop this plan:
Your client, Dr. Henze, is willing to learn new social media technologies, as necessary, to support this plan.
The plan should require a maximum of 30 minutes per week to execute/monitor.
Plan-associated expenses cannot exceed $200 per year.
To gather information for the plan:
Check out the website for English internships (Links to an external site.) and determine what changes should be made to increase student attention.
Check out these boilerplate documents and notes describing or demonstrating current ways we communicate with students about internships.
See the ECU Career Center’s Jobs and Internship Search resource page (Links to an external site.).
Interview Dr. Henze for information not available through online research.
Explore various options for social media that you could incorporate into this site to inform students about the program.
Explore what other units at ECU and elsewhere are doing to promote similar programs.
Brainstorm ways that members of your target constituency–ECU students in the various English majors and certificate programs–would appreciate receiving this information.
Survey or conduct focus groups with ECU undergraduates to collect information to help tailor your communication plan.
First draft of proposal due by the end of Week 11.
Final draft of proposal due at the end of Week 12.
Notes and adviceAs you prepare your memo-style report, consider these issues:
Understanding your audience. An important question when writing almost any piece of communication is, “Who is your audience?” Answers to that question will guide many of your choices about content, use of evidence, amount of detail, marked or unmarked use of specialized vocabulary, and arrangement of your ideas.
In this case, your target audience is me, but it’s not the “me” that is your instructor; it’s “me” in my official role as director of an internship program. Consider how my perspective in this capacity might differ from my perspective as your teacher, and how those differences could affect my information needs and expectations.
Developing your content. What preliminary research do you need to do to understand the workplace problem that your client has asked you to help solve? How will you know that you’re understanding the problem fully? Perhaps more importantly, how will you know if the client has a complete, logical grasp of the problem?
How much detail should you provide in this initial proposal–a document whose purpose is to commence, not to conclude, a problem-solving process? What information will you include and why?
Organizing your memo. This assignment, like most workplace reports, needs to pack a lot of content into a concise, well organized, high-impact written product. Given what you know about your audience, purpose, and content, what options are available to you for organizing your discussion? How will you prioritize your most important content (and how will you decide what’s important enough to include, but also what’s worth omitting)? How will the various parts of your report “fit together” as a unified document; have you provided transitions and included topic sentences?
Style. What is the appropriate level of diction (vocabulary, tone)? This report should take the form of a professional memorandum (which implies professionalism, effective editing, neatness, and conciseness), but not all memos are equally formal.
I’ll evaluate your final memo on the following criteria:
Provides informative, well developed content
Focuses on the client’s actual problem
Uses specific details and evidence collected in your research
Demonstrates that you understand concepts from our class readings, lectures, and course discussions
Uses professional memo format (per MacRae, Ch. 6 and Ch. 7)
Employs clear, correct, and well edited writing.
info memo report rubricinfo memo report rubricCriteriaRatingsPtsThis criterion is linked to a Learning OutcomeMemo format2 ptsThis criterion is linked to a Learning OutcomeStrong content5 ptsThis criterion is linked to a Learning OutcomeClaims supported by evidence5 ptsThis criterion is linked to a Learning OutcomeComposition5 ptsThis criterion is linked to a Learning OutcomeEditing
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