To Proof Read or Not To Read?

The other day, while I was going through an abstract the organizing committee had received for an International Conference, written by a research scholar, and I cringed internally when I came across a grammatical mistake. Mind you, I am not talking about a status update that a person would have put up on a social media platform without giving it a second thought, but a research paper sent in by an academician with mistakes in it.

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Is it really that hard to take a few minutes to proofread and/or edit your work before putting it up somewhere or sending it to someone? What is the reason for such negligence anyway?

I have noticed that most of us rarely consider it important to proofread something once or twice before sending it to someone. It could be something as simple as an email or something a lot more serious like a research paper or an article you are writing for a website. With Internet lingos and emoticons forming a major part of our conversations thanks to smartphones, we forget that “its” and “it’s” or “there”, “they’re” and “their” are words with completely different meanings. Further, we are constantly in a hurry and so don’t consider it important enough to allocate some time for specifically proofreading a written piece.

Why is it important to proofread anything though?

I have seen/received emails from Professors as well as corporate professionals with mistakes and inadvertently, end up judging them for the same. I wouldn’t want to be on the receiving end of such judgment. The saying “ the first impression is the best impression” has some merit to it, even if people claim that they don’t judge a book by its cover. In a professional setting, you do not want to start off on the wrong foot by making silly errors or saying “accept” instead of “except” in your email. You do not want to be dismissed as someone who is negligent/careless with the way they write.

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Secondly, you will come across as professional when you pay attention to small details. It is but human to make mistakes and so, proofreading it once or twice will make sure you do not make any embarrassing mistakes in your write-up.

Sometimes, it’s easy for you to overlook mistakes when you’re proofreading your own work. Hence it’s always better to get a friend or a trusted acquaintance to proofread your work if you’re going to be sending it to someone important. Small things like usage of tenses, singular/plural verbs, etc. are things that could be easily overlooked and you do not want that.

Editing is as crucial (if not more than) as proofreading is. They both go hand in hand. Proofreading will give you a sense of not just mistakes in any write-up, but also give you a better understanding of how to change a few sentences here and there to make them sound better. Though having a rich vocabulary is great, there really is no point to it unless your audience understands what you’re saying. Only if the person receiving it reads your text in the way it was originally intended will the communication process be effective and complete. Hence, editing. Cut out that long sentence, do away with informal language that would have crept in involuntarily and make your work sound as professional, clear and unambiguous as possible.

While editing (or writing as well), it is also important to keep your target audience in mind. A friend who works on organismal biology words things very differently when he explains something to a layman like me versus how he would discuss his work with his colleagues. Likewise, you’ll automatically be conscious of your choice of words and the way you frame sentences when you keep your target audience in mind. Having said that, do not use fancy words or jargon just to impress someone. When your writing is not organic and you struggle with it, it somehow comes through in your written work and it would then seem forced or superficial even. Remember, it’s better to use simple words than to be misunderstood or judged.

And finally, a major rule when it comes to editing is – be ruthless. For a lot of people like me who have narcissistic tendencies when it comes to their written work, it can be a little tough. But, it’s better to develop a thick skin when you edit your own work and only keep what is absolutely necessary for that piece of write-up. Yes, it can be hard. But, it’s better for you to edit your own work before someone else does (trust me on this!)

Career Opportunities

Thanks to the fact that a lot of people do not have time to re-read their work (or the work of others), proofreading and editing have become lucrative areas when it comes to career opportunities. As a freelancer, you can choose to edit content from wherever you are. In fact, I have been editing content for a major corporate firm’s internal communication campaign part-time and it has been pretty rewarding and flexible. Publishing houses, as well as media firms, are generally on the lookout for good editors who can make their work sound better and (sometimes) make them sound smarter as well.

Apart from all this, ensuring you learn to edit and proofread your own work will also come in handy if you’re into say, journalism, public relations or corporate communications (apart from other obvious fields like content writing and content editing) as they involve a lot of written work.

So remember, your ability to spot a “your” in place of “you’re” could actually help you make a career (or at least a part-time career) if you keep your eyes and ears open.

About the Author:

IMG-20160914 After her bachelor’s degree, Nanditha worked with Google for a year and a half before volunteering and teaching in a Government school for six months which helped her understand more about grassroots education in India.
During her master’s, she developed an interest in development communication as a result of which, she interned with The Red Elephant Foundation, a civilian peacebuilding initiative where she continues to volunteer. She has drafted handbooks and worked on curriculums around themes of peace and equality for the Foundation and now writes for an educational initiative Tale Weavers which aims to engage with children through stories that break stereotypes and promote peace and. She worked for a while with a start-up called “PeriFerry” that focusses on finding employment opportunities for transgender people and sensitizing workplaces on the importance of a diverse and inclusive work environment, where she took care of external communication.
Apart from all this, she works part-time as a content editor for a reputed firm in Chennai on one of their internal communication campaigns. Shortlisted for the Rising Star Awards conducted earlier this year, she is currently pursuing an M Phil in journalism and communication.

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Can High Functioning Individuals Suffer from Depression?

high-functioning-depressionSadness is a typical, universal emotion that is expected in situations of loss, change, or difficult life experiences/situations. One must understand the difference between sadness and depression. Where sadness is an emotion that we all experience at some point of time, depression is not an emotion, it is an illness. Depression is a condition that exists without triggers and continues to be there for a period of time, to an extent that it hampers daily functioning. Depression is more than occasional sadness and not everyone will suffer from depression during their lifetime. Depression involves periods of hopelessness, lethargy, emptiness, helplessness, irritability, and problems focusing and concentrating. Depression needs treatment and it is a treatable condition. Depression is the second leading cause of death across the globe, increasing the burden of illness in the bio-psycho-social realms of society. Depression has multivariate faces with a manifestation in more than 10 types depending upon the context, onset and severity of the illness. Nevertheless, the primary symptoms of depression remain to be seen as-

  • Changed patterns of sleep
  • Reduced or increased appetite
  • Lack of feeling of joy and interest in activities that were previously enjoyed
  • Lack of energy; and lethargy
  • Low mood

22e2b9fc67208e33efd5b4cf07068d75However, when we speak about high functioning individuals, the depression is manifested and overtly seen quite differently and not that obviously. High functioning individual, as understand colloquially, refers to someone who is performing above what would be expected of them. It is usually used in a context of development. Thus, the term is actually a comparative term and rather subjective (or based on someone’s opinion). It may be simplistically used to have an “all or none” connotation – which would entail the person either being high-functioning or not. Most individuals have a mix of skills and abilities and may be high-functioning in certain areas and not in others. It is also important to understand that sometimes, high functioning is understood in the pathological context where the individual is referred to as a high functioning disordered personality and such an individual is one who is able to conceal his/her dysfunctional behaviour in certain public settings and maintain a positive public or professional profile while exposing their negative traits to family members or close ones.  

Though no clear statistics are available to demarcate the prevalence of depression among high functioning individuals, the situation tends to prevail. What is characteristically seen in high functioning individuals with depression is that the inhibited energy and desire for activity/action is directed in an effort to succeed with goals. The drive to accomplish often sustains action and moves high-functioning individuals towards getting things done which make it appear to be a relatively constructive diversion of energy.  High-functioning depression is similar to low-level depression and can last around five years in adults or one to two years in children and teens, according to the Harvard School of Public Health. And while it may not leave you devastated and hopeless, high-functioning depression can deteriorate the quality of life, dampen the enthusiasm for work and also affect school, family, and even social activities. There are certain signs that we may look for, to identify depression in individuals who are high functioning by action and nature-

 

  1. Setting higher goals and feelings of dissatisfaction: People with high functioning depression constantly set higher goals for themselves without the appreciation of their achievements. It is difficult for them to accept compliments because they feel they can be better than what they are.tumblr_mqyfjkJlt11qlpcero3_500
  2.  High functioning individuals with depression are usually low on physical energy but have adequate mental energy that is constructively diverted to work
  3. It is difficult for them to deny work, especially when given by people in the position of authority. They are also typically seen as Type A personalities (workaholic, competitive, self-critical)
  4. They fear obligation and guilt.
  5. Depression and anxiety may coexist in the individual 
  6. Irritability is a lesser known symptom of depression, but it’s seen and individuals may be seen displacing these emotions on loved ones and near ones with no apparent reason. The feeling of guilt lingers.
  7. Feeling drained to maintain relationships may drain out the individual who feels the compulsion to keep contributing more to add value or enrich eh relationship, even in instances when not required.
  8. Individuals with high functioning depression either sleep too much or too little.
  9. Depression isn’t a recognizable condition in high functioning individuals as they are able to surface their depression with skills.
  10. Reduced social interactions and meetings outside work settings. They may be isolative, and this may often translate into a distance in relationships with peers and kinship.
  11. Co-occurring medical conditions, like diabetes or cancer, cause stress and strain that can lead to depression. Depression also lowers the immunity, increasing the vulnerability to acquire other diseases or health problems.
  12. Family history is an important marker for vulnerability to depression. Individuals with history of family members suffering from depression are at a higher risk of developing depression
  13. Alcohol or drug dependence, eating disorders or engagement in excessive video game playing may be seen and this may exacerbate symptoms of depression, anxiety, and sleep problems, further hindering people’s abilities to cope.
  14. Affluent, educated people are, surprisingly, more likely to have high functioning depression. It is said that it is a paradox of high functioning depression is that these are very often people who are educated and have important jobs.

 

Keeping the above points in mind, it is necessary to note that not every individual who may have these symptoms is an individual with high functioning depression. It is important to note the context and duration of symptoms. Nevertheless, having identified depression, it must not be let go off, ignored or delayed with intervention. Earlier intervention (and treatment) helps to better manage symptoms and allows the individual to return to healthier functioning sooner. Early intervention also reduced the chances of relapse (the illness recurring) for the individual. Mental health professionals such as psychiatrists, clinical psychologists, and psychotherapists (or sometimes, counsellors) are equipped to understand and manage depression. They must be reached out to for help. Usually, a combination treatment of medication and therapy works the best for treating depression. High functioning tendencies of individuals may be managed through therapy.

 

About the Author: 

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Pragya Lodha is the Assistant Editor of the Indian Journal of Mental Health and works as a Research Assistant at De Sousa Foundation, Mumbai with over 20 publications in National and International publications in journals and books. Pragya has been working in the field of mental health, engaging in various on the ground and online projects. She also serves as the Associate Programme Developer at The MINDS Foundation, Gujarat.  Presently, she is also the India Coordinator and Leader for an Indian-European Project called “Advocacy for Mental Health: Create Leaders to Innovate and Break Stigma”. She is also a Trained Volunteer at Samaritans Mumbai for 2 years with a background in Clinical Psychology and Psychotherapy. Pragya aspires to see mental health as a comfortably spoken about and addressed domain in India, in the coming time.

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Mapping Key Transferable Skills for Career Transition to Non-Profit

“You get paid for your job?”, pat came the question when I mentioned to my Uncle that I was working in the nonprofit sector. And was I surprised? No! Every time I spoke about my job or my passion for the social sector, I would get some curious glances from people around, followed by the question, “What is your real job?” Over the years a lot has changed and a career in the social sector is no longer considered as mere charity or a volunteering opportun6-million-work-in-nonprofit-industry-SEontario1ity but promises good growth together with a sense of gratification. Though organizations working in this space are there to engage and empower communities, the work ethic, and culture match well with that at a for-profit organization. I constantly come across a lot of professionals who are seeking a career transition from the for-profit sector into the nonprofit, social impact world. And irrespective of the background one comes from, one brings to the table a set of transferable skills that will not just help you excel at your work but will also add to an organization’s growing pool of diverse talent.

What are transferable skills? How do you identify them and market them when looking for a job? Don’t organizations have one-size-fits-all requirements and job profiles? What is the best way to establish the connection of your previous work with your new potential opportunity? Identifying these questions and understanding the skills is always a great starting point to start that transition.

What are transferable skills?

Transferable skills or soft skills are core skills that you acquire in a particular role but can be transferred and applied to a variety of roles across ind03896f7ustries. Be it your ability to communicate effectively, leading your team and efficiently delegating tasks and optimizing the available resource, managing time, undertaking research and data analytics or fostering successful collaborations and partnerships, these are crucial skills that can be used to successfully perform a job in any industry. Internships, volunteer work as well as your regular everyday job, all help you acquire and hone these skills.

Key skills that are transferable to the nonprofit sector

Data analytics: Although social sector organizations are nonprofit ventures, they are very data-driven and highly focus on the impact of their work. If you have experience as a data analyst in the corporate sector, you can transfer your analytics skills to help organizations measure the impact of their work and translate the findings into actionable inputs.

Communications and Marketing: Raising funds for the various programs and implementing outreach campaigns to engage with communities are two areas where nonprofit organizations are constantly looking for help. If you are a marketing and public relations professional and have experience identifying and cultivating prospective clients, making presentations and pitches, organizing road shows and brand activation events, then you can use these skills to help the organization raise funds, cultivate corporate partnerships as well as organize various outreach activities.

Management Consulting: Management Consultants bring with them a plethora of skills from their consulting experience. Problem-solving and analytical skills, project management, understanding the market and competition analysis or understanding a new geography for business expansion are some extremely valuable skills that can be transferred to the nonprofit space. Especially in the social space, we see an increase in social impact/ social venture funding organizations and microfinance institutions. It is no surprise that professionals with a consulting background are highly sought after.

Technology and IT: Technology is playing a key role in addressing various social issues. There are several Tech for Good initiatives that have used crowdsourced maps and mobile solutions to address issues around women’s safety, gender-based violence, urban planning & governance and health & nutrition. There is also an increased awareness to address the gender gap in STEM and nonprofit organizations are stepping up to equip girls and empower them with coding and other technical skills. If you are an engineer with experience in coding or building android mobile apps and want to use your skills for social impact, there are several organizations looking for people like you.

This list is certainly not exhaustive. There are several other skills that are transferable and can help one successfully transition into the social sector. Every role and every job help one develop different skills. It is important that every individual identifies those skills and understand how best they can use them to empower communities and bring about the impact they are passionate about.

About the Author:

Sharda

Sharda is a development sector professional who has worked in areas as diverse as urban planning, governance, gender empowerment and social enterprise. She is passionate about using the digital space for empowering the society and improving citizen participation at varied levels. She strongly believes in the power of education and the ways in which it can act as a catalyst in empowering communities. It is this belief that has been instrumental in her choice of working within the education domain.

 

 

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Stories Of Grassroots Education in India

If I had told my younger self that I would one day set out to write about grassroots level education, bottom-up change, and long term impact, I would have scoffed. Set in my aspirations of pursuing a career in journalism, I was not sure what I had planned out in my head, but being on the other side of the teacher’s desk was definitely not it. If only I knew.

In the last six years, the classroom haunted me. Time and again, I found myself walking into them, again and again, and again. I walked into them as a volunteer, as a government representative, as a well-wisher, and finally, a year ago, as a full-time teacher and “language expert”. From the mountains in rural Ladakh to the plains in the deep south of Tamil Nadu, I soon came to seek out the classrooms, and as classrooms are wont to do, they taught me important lessons time and again.

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As a graduate in Development Studies, I have spent an embarrassing amount of time discussing, debating, and (our personal favorite) deconstructing the “issues” behind our “growth models”. For hours we would roll the ball between us to no avail. Where did the problem lie? In the way, the policies were framed? In the implementation? In the many steps in between? Yet today, I am more than ready to put the theory aside. For me, the real importance of grassroots level education lies instead in the stories, of boys and girls and teachers and students in the country’s classrooms. If only we cared to listen, they would tell us why we should take a single-classroom school seriously, why even the most innocent of coloring exercises can teach us more than any academic debate ever has. Today, I will tell you stories from every classroom I have been in, and you will tell me the importance of grassroots education.

My first experience in the classroom was in January 2012 in an underprivileged private school in Chennai. The students were largely the children of daily wage laborers, a fact that came alive when the principal told us “every day when they leave, we don’t know if they will come back or if they will ever go back to school.” It was a sobering note to begin our engagement as we tried to evaluate the school’s library (or lack thereof) and enthuse the children to read. I remember enacting Rapunzel once, complete with nonsensical replacements for names that only ten-year-olds can come up with. They loved it! At the end of it all, I pointed them in the direction of the books, saying they could look at the pictures and piece together the words from those books there, and we left, our work is done for the day. The next week, when we came back, we were told a story that astounds me to this day. A dozen of the children had pooled together one rupee each to photocopy one copy of the book between them, bargaining with the shopkeeper for the rest. Twelve kids, twelve rupees, one English book. When I walked into the classroom the next week, they showed me pictures they had drawn and attempts at retellings. By engaging in their classroom, we had given those dozen kids an opportunity to tell a story, with the promise that someone was listening. Grassroots education is important to Indian Rapunzels waiting to be heard.  

The year after, I was in rural Ladakh, working with an organization to help set up libraries in rural government schools. The “library” was a wooden shelf filled with a standardized set of a hundred books, a cataloging system, and a student-management code. Just as the year before, I was engaging the children in exercises to make them feel connected to these alien books, and one such was an art activity about their ambitions. The socio-cultural milieu of the school was such that most boys aspired to enter the tourism industry and most girls were slated to be teac52_04_49_54_india-girls-education_H@@IGHT_400_W@@IDTH_620hers. At a stretch, some others may become farmers and a motley few drivers, but that was it. When we asked them to draw, I got answers that blew me over. I want to be a scientist, a girl told me, stuttering over the word but crystal clear in intention. Another wanted to be an astronaut, his picture complete with the dome-shaped helmet on his cartoon head. We picked out books for them with equivalent protagonists and they settled contentedly into their corner, their minds probably already many steps ahead. As for me, I was stunned that they knew those words, those eight-year-olds living in villages where electricity was still a precious commodity. Yet those books took them places we couldn’t, beyond the trappings of their immediate environment of broken benches and shared slates. Grassroots education is important for that future scientist and that to be an astronaut.

Today, I work full-time as a teacher of English as Second Language in a rural school catering to the students of the local tribes. Just the other day, when someone asked my kids what their fathers did, the answers came fast – brick kiln worker, electrician, plumber, land broker; each a story of a parent working hard to keep the kids in school. My first students are just gearing up to give their IGCSE ESL exams and are the most spirited bunch I have ever seen. Ask them what they want to be? You will hear about ornithology, law, ayurvedic medicine, app development, writing lyrics. You will hear of “occupations” their families have never seen thus far, that they have only seen in the books and movies around them. But you will hear the conviction in their voice as they ask me for permission to use the computers in the staff room “to search about my ambition” or ask if I know anyone they can talk to. Grassroots education is important for that bird watcher and attorney and Top 100 songwriter in the making who sits in my classroom today.

Yet it isn’t just the students who are impacted by intervention at the most direct level. During my time as the representative monitoring the implementation of Sarva Siksha Abigyan-Mid Day Meal Schemes in government schools in Tamil Nadu, I heard the stories of many of the teachers. They tell us to use Activity-Based Learning, one teacher said. They say assessments are not good and we should not conduct exams. But the parents of the children want to know about ranks and marks, not stars and “improvement.” So we do both. The reality of national-level policy making does not take her voice into account, does not realize that someone with thirty years of teaching experience just does not feel equipped to jump from chalk piece to jigsaw puzzles overnight. Grassroots education is important to make sure these voices of experience and wisdom are heard, addressed, and accounted for.

Every day, we hear of unemployability and soft skills and how we are on the verge of losing out on our demographic advantage. We hear of how the “standard” is “dropping” because of our need for competition and rankings. We hear of “facts” being misrepresented in textbooks and opinions masquerading as Truth, capital T and all. We crib about how policy can fix all this, how if we just took a hard stance on many of these issues, things will fix themselves. This is where the grassroots come into the picture.

Education in the country today is at a crucial juncture. If we want our students to grow up into employable, skilled, but more importantly intelligent adults, we need to invest in them. While their desks and uniforms and blackboards are definitely integral to the learning experience, grassroots education is fundamentally an investment in individuals, their stories, and dreams, their questions and curiosity. The commitment to grassroots education is a commitment to ask questions that matter, answer queries that confound, and be present in direct, sometimes messy, but always gratifying ways. The commitment to grassroots level education is explaining homophones in class; talk about the difference between ‘pair’ and ‘pear,’ and being willing to deal with “you mean like Bluetooth, Ma’am?” without batting an eyelid. Because there is no textbook in the world that teaches you how not to blink stupidly at that.

It is my belief, one that has only gotten strengthened with time, that anyone who hopes to work at the policy level, empowered to tell that teacher in that classroom that she should use building blocks instead of a Math notebook, should mandatorily spend some time in environments directly impacted by these policies. Talk to those kids. Share a cup of tea with the teachers. Find out where there is such a large gap between ‘talking it’ and ‘doing it’. In that process, you will inevitably invest in the individuals around you, just as they invest in you. Your worlds will expand, your vocabularies will grow, your opinions will get remolded. And just like the story of a man throwing individual starfish into the sea, you will make a difference to one, two, half a dozen students somewhere, somehow. Grassroots education is about throwing each starfish into the sea and teaching it to dream of crossing the oceans one day.

About the Author:

Yashasvini_3Yashasvini Rajeshwar identifies most strongly as a writer. With over ten years of experience in journalism across national media and multiple magazines (including writing for The Hindu), her current work centres most often around gender, education, youth affairs, and disability rights. Apart from her commitments as a freelance writer, she is currently a full-time teacher of English as a Second Language at a school for first-generation learners in rural Tamil Nadu. She also works as the Head of Communications and Media at Adventures Beyond Barriers Foundation as well as the chief content developer at BeingYou, both platforms working towards creating a more equitable, accessible, inclusive society. She writes of her teaching escapades here and all else here.

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Guide To Journalism in a Democratic Republic For Amateurs

Life is all about unlearning and relearning. The sooner you understand and accept this, the better it is for you to explore new avenues.

As someone who has always been fond of writing, I was super thrilled about studying journalism as part of my postgrad course. Shouldn’t be too hard for someone who can write, right? Well, not really.

Journalistic writing can be quite challenging. If you’re someone who has done mostly creative writing, there is a lot of unlearning to do. Needless to say, there is not much creativity that goes into a piece of the news report. Hard news reporting is merely stating facts that include the 5 Ws and 1 H (who, what, when, where, why and how).

When you’re writing a piece for any print organization (or even for new media), it’s important to ensure that the facts you state are accurate and that they are reported in unambiguous terms. judithmiller2

Unlike a story or some other piece of creative writing where you wait till the climax to reveal something important, all crucial facts in a story should be stated in the first one or two paragraphs of a report. This style of reporting is a format called the inverted pyramid that a lot of print media organizations follow in their stories.

The language you use in the story is crucial. Remember that a newspaper is read by a wide plethora of media consumers from different segments. So ensure that you keep the language as simple as possible for it to be understood by everyone. If and when you have to use certain technical terms, it would be better to briefly explain them.

Another major factor when it comes to any piece of journalistic writing is credibility and newsworthiness. The credibility of a piece depends on the sources (primary or secondary) who vouch for what you’ve written in your report. Ensure you name your sources correctly. In case they want their names to remain confidential for security reasons, do not breach their trust and retain their anonymity. Newsworthiness, however, is a very tricky concept. Simply put, it actually refers to anything that is important enough for it to be considered “news”. In recent times, however, defining it has become hard. While some newspapers consider plunging necklines of a movie star as newsworthy, there are others that try to stick to conventional and traditional definitions of newsworthiness. So ensure you have a clear cut understanding of what newsworthiness is to you before you go ahead and write a report on something. Newsworthiness, in a nutshell, is any incident, report or decision that could have an impact on a large number of people. There are, of course, human interest stories and other soft news stories apart from them.

superman1Double check, or even triple check, facts and figures used in a piece. It is saddening to see quite a few websites (I shall refrain from mentioning names for my own good.) which spread fake news. Loss of credibility is easily one of the greatest threats to any print medium organization. So get your facts right. Follow up with sources if and when in doubt. Even if you’re writing a piece for a blog, an online website or any other new medium, it does not serve as an excuse for you to put up statements or facts that are not credible.

All of this should be done keeping in mind the deadline for the story of course. If you’re writing an analytical piece for a column that has periodicity, you might have a little more time on your hands. However, if you cover hard news – politics, sports, business and other current affairs, it goes without saying that you would need to turn in your stories the next day. So make sure you get your facts right and ensure the credibility of your piece while keeping the language simple and precise.

Once you finish doing all this and think your piece is ready to go, you have two more important things to do – proofread and edit. Check for grammatical errors, spelling mistakes or even minor punctuation errors. Even the most proficient writers sometimes miss a comma or two (it might help to know beforehand whether the organization you’re writing the piece for, is for the Oxford comma or not), so always proofread what you write.

And finally, edit. Be ruthless. There are a lot of news stories that go into a single2f130294f853d63fd3dd36b976fc5d70_yeah-if-everyone-could-start-proofreading-their-posts-before-proof-read-meme_625-351 newspaper. The space you are allotted will depend on the importance of the story (as well as advertising space reserved for that particular day). But more often than not, your editor is going to chop off anything that is not required for the story. So it is better that you do your own editing before you turn in your story. Make sure your report is detailed and yet, concise. It’s not a piece of creative writing for you to ramble on and on. Keep that in mind. Avoid using flowery language. Such language might be okay if you’re working on features but not when it comes to hard news stories. Like I said, it’s all about unlearning and relearning.

While you’re at it, there are a lot of brilliant pieces of journalistic writing from The Washington Post, The New York Times, Esquire or Rolling Stone that you should read. You will learn a lot just from reading these pieces. Here are a few of my favorites (they are not hard news stories though, so be prepared to read long pieces of amazing, investigative journalism). Trust me, they are worth your time!

  1. http://www.esquire.com/news-politics/a638/frank-sinatra-has-a-cold-gay-talese/
  2. https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/magazine/pearls-before-breakfast-can-one-of-the-nations-great-musicians-cut-through-the-fog-of-a-dc-rush-hour-lets-find-out/2014/09/23/8a6d46da-4331-11e4-b47c-f5889e061e5f_story.html?utm_term=.da24db758fbd
  3. http://www.rollingstone.com/culture/news/the-brilliant-life-and-tragic-death-of-aaron-swartz-20130215

About the Author: 

IMG-20160914Nanditha is a Masters student majoring in Mass Communication. After her bachelors in Commerce, she worked with Google for a while before teaching primary school students in Chennai for a while. During the course of her Masters, she developed an interest in research as well as development communication. She loves critiquing movies, discussing good pieces of journalistic writing and watching culinary shows apart from reading books when she does find time for them.

Posted in Job Experience, Journalism, Work/Employment | Leave a comment

How to Write Professional Emails

We’re all emailing all day, every day. They form the initial point of contact for so many of our conversations. With an increasingly global workforce, emails are generally the go-to method for communicating with colleagues across the world. So how do you write professional emails?

  • A clear and crisp subject line: The subject line of the email must inform the other person what the email is about or at least be as indicative as possible. People get swamped with tons of email every day, a clear subject line helps everyone categorize their email better. For e.g., sending an email with the subject line ‘Resume’ does absolutely nothing to inform anyone of why you have sent that resume, give a little more detail? You could make it ‘Resume for XYZ position’ instead. [Ed Tip: Standard subject line to use for job/internship applications: “Application for Internship at <Insert Firm Name>, <Insert City>, for the period <Insert starting date> to <Insert ending date>”]

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  • Do not forget to attach an attachment you’ve mentioned you’re attaching in the email: Gmail will even remind you now if you’ve mentioned the word ‘attached’ or its varied connotations in your emails and then haven’t attached a file. Especially keep this in mind in your initial days at any place or while applying to a place for a job or with a query – we all err sometimes, try not to make a habit of it.

 

  • Decide who you are sending the email to: please do not ‘cc’ jghjtix5hj2cps7p_v2_additional people on an email they do not need to be part of that conversation. Think before hitting ‘reply all’ and please refrain from using ‘bcc’ unless you are sending a bulk informative email.

 

  • Do not email from someone else’s email ID: It’s 2017, you need to have your own email ID – I have nothing further to say here. [Ed Tip: Yes, it happens far often than you may think. Also, please make sure your email id is professional, i.e not something like‘dragonballrokzzz1@gmail.com’]

 

  • Do not conn3ect people over email unless they have consented to it beforehand: If you think two people should connect over some project or if a friend wants to connect to an ex-employee of yours – great! Always help people out when you can, but make sure you check in with all parties if they are open to helping out at the moment or even have the time for a quick connect before you actually just go ahead and connect them over email. Once you’ve connected them without consent, just puts everybody in an awkward situation with very few ways out of it.

 

 

 

  • Proofread: just recheck your emails for grammar and spellings, it is actually super simple. You can also download software that will proofread your email for you.

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  • Signing off on emails: Keep the signing off portion short. While your name, title etc. can be part of your standard email signature, you do not need to add a thank you and a dozen other end wishes before ending every email. Keep it short and relevant.

 

  • Please do not forward your emails when they shouldn’t be forwarded: Some email exchanges are meant to be private. If you need to send a document from another email conversation with someone else or just forward1-V56yLBdOrsyxLYRNlb_fyg one email in a chain of emails – please do not forward the entire chain. For e.g., please do not email your CV to a potential recruiter in a manner where they can still see your entire previous email exchange with someone else. [Ed Tip: Or for the matter BCC the same email to multiple recruiters. They understand what you are doing.]

 

  • Be nice: check in on how the other person is doing, maybe ask them about their sick parent/child/pet they told you off the last time you spoke. Try to personalize emails in this manner, but know when and whom you’re emailing and what conversation is appropriate and what isn’t. Eventually, a little kindness never hurt anyone. [Ed Tip: But do NOT go overboard with this in a completely formal business email. In case you know the other person only in a professional capacity, kept it concise.]

 

About the Author:

Bio ImageVandita Morarka is the Cofounder of Students for Social Reform Initiative and has previously been the Youth Outreach Coordinator for Safecity and has also initiated their flagship Campus Ambassador program. She works with youth organizations in various capacities and has mentored and trained over 500 young persons in the past few years. Vandita is currently the Policy, Legal and United Nations Liaising Officer for Safecity (Red Dot Foundation) and also does independent policy based consulting and legal research for government agencies, NGOs, and philanthropists.

Posted in Communication, Internship & Applications, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Things Interns Shouldn’t Do.

  1. Read about the organization before applying. If it’s a slightly obscure place for which you can’t find information online, ask the person you are corresponding depositphotos_7168212-stock-illustration-research-magnifying-glass-over-backgroundwith for the internship to give you any relevant reading material. Don’t ask the recruiter to tell you what the organization does, they would expect you to already know their core work if you are so interested in applying. Feel free to ask other questions related to their work that you may want more details about. A recruiter will not be selecting you if you haven’t even read up about the place you want to intern at, even if you have a stellar CV, because that just shows a complete lack of dedication and interest.

  1. Errors in language, spellings, formatting etc in your emails and any further correspondence with the recruiter are entirely unacceptable. You have free tools available that do the checks for you, integrate them with your email if you can’t recheck yourself. [Editors Tip: Download Grammarly if you haven’t already. You are welcome!]

  1. Don’t ask the recruiter anything that you can get on the first page of a Google search. Or even on the second page. It is a waste of the recruiters time and probably would leave them a little annoyed with you.

  1. Do not lie or inflate skills on your CV. If you list Social Media Management as a skill, the Recruiter will expect you to be able to do more than just share posts on social 660a06d511807f33030116c88da792f7media handles. Lying is inefficient for both parties, you won’t be able to do the work assigned to you and the Recruiter will need to hire someone else again to do that job. If you have already lied about something, please teach yourself the skill required before you start the internship.

  1. If you don’t understand some task, ask the Recruiter again, but not 5 minutes before your submission deadline. Please always get your doubts regarding any work clarified before you start working on it, or during the initial stages. [Editors Note: It is also better to ask silly questions and sound stupid than to not ask those questions, mess up the work and prove your stupidity.] Not understanding something is never an excuse for not finishing the work towards the end.

  1. Messaging someone you are reporting to at 2 am is unacceptable unless they have given you leave to do so or if you are working across different time zones. If pertinent, drop an email. Having said that, just let the person you are reporting to set the tone of how they would like to interact with you, everyone has a different working style and you need to understand that and work within it.

  1. Please do not hit on/flirt with the person who you are interning under. If you really want to ask them out, wait until the internship is over. Otherwise, it’s just an awkward and unprofessional situation for everybody.

[Read About How To Possible Convert Those Internships Into PPOs HERE]

 

About the Author:

Bio ImageVandita Morarka is the Cofounder of Students for Social Reform Initiative and has previously been the Youth Outreach Coordinator for Safecity and has also initiated their flagship Campus Ambassador program. She works with youth organisations in various capacities and has mentored and trained over 500 young persons in the past few years. Vandita is currently the Policy, Legal and United Nations Liaising Officer for Safecity (Red Dot Foundation) and also does independent policy based consulting and legal research for government agencies, NGOs and philanthropists.

 

Posted in Human Networking, Internship, Internship & Applications, Uncategorized | Leave a comment