Professional Interview/Profile Paper

Com 451
Professional Profile (60 points)

Overview. The purpose of this assignment is to help you understand how the lecture and book material is applicable to the working lives of real people (including yourself). You are asked to interview an individual who is experienced in a communication-intensive career. They must have worked in this field for at least three years, preferably more. Pick someone who is doing a job you would like to have someday or someone you admire. This person should not be a family member or personal friend. Use this informational interview to expand your professional network and maybe help with your job search process!

Be prepared for your interview. Apply the interviewing methods you learned about in Com 308 or 309. Prepare a list of questions but also follow-up with probing questions. Obtain the details you will need to write an interesting 4-page paper. Take excellent notes or (with permission) record the interview.

You will write a brief (4-5 typed, double-spaced pages) profile of this professional person and the communication practices they use at work. The audience for the profile is students contemplating a career in this person?s field. Your writing should be concise, engaging, and readable. This is the kind of writing you would find if an executive was profiled in a business magazine or a corporate newsletter. However, you should use concepts from class to analyze and describe this person?s work.

I hope to compile the best profiles and make them available to other students, through the course Blackboard and other communication mechanisms. If you don?t want your writing shared in this way, let me know when you submit the paper.

In addition, five points extra credit will be awarded if your profile is accepted for publication somewhere this semester (e.g., in a newspaper or company newsletter or on an edited website).

Make sure you gather and report this information in your profile:

I. Background information
a. Name
a. Age
b. Sex
c. Title/position
d. Current company/organization
e. Organization location
d. Years in this profession
e. Years in this organization
f. Educational background (including highest level attained)
II. Job duties
Describe the most significant duties performed by this person. Make sure you definitely describe their most important communication tasks. You might also describe the most unique, challenging, or rewarding aspects of their work.

III. Risk Analysis
A. Assess the trends. Introduce the idea of risk, as we are discussing it in class. Ask about the trends the interviewee sees in their workforce, company, industry or in the larger environment. What risks do they see developing? What aspects of their job could put them, coworkers, or their employer at risk? What actions would help them or their organization manage the risks? (Make sure I can see that you are using class concepts as you report on this part of the interview).

B. Analyze a risky situation. Ask your interviewee to identify a risky communication situation they have faced on the job. Pick one of the risky situations we have discussed in class (each chapter of the WK book concerns a kind of risky situation). Drawing upon the Risk Negotiation Framework, devise questions about the (1) historical, contextual, or relational factors that made the situation risky, (2) the personal and organizational communication practices that exacerbated or managed the risk, and (3) the outcomes of the risky situation. (Make sure I can see that you are using class concepts as you report on this part of the interview).

IV. Lessons learned
Note: You must ask these two questions. Report the answers verbatim, somewhere in your profile.

a. What is the best advice you ever heard about how to be a successful (fill in his/her profession)?

b. What is the best advice you could give to a young person wishing to become a (fill in his/her profession)?
Grading Criteria

1. Accuracy: Ample and correct use of class concepts (20 points)
2. Application: Provides concrete observations/examples (20 points)
3. Writing: technically proficient, engaging, concise, thorough (20 points)

Total: (60 points)

Sample Paragraph

After establishing rapport through an exchange of small talk, I explained to Ms. Manager that our class was learning about risky situations at work. I gave her some examples, such as delivering negative feedback or suggesting new ideas when your coworkers preferred not to change. She asked what I meant by ?risky?. I explained that risky situations were those that threatened our relationships with co-workers, our jobs, or even the success of our company.
She quickly focused on negative feedback. Ms. Manager explained that it was part of her job to give negative feedback to underperforming employees. In some cases she is blamed for the bad news when, in fact, it is the poor performing employee who is at fault. Her relationship with that employee is sometimes strained. I followed up by asking Ms. Manager how she communicates in these situations. She starts by asking employees to share their own view of their performance. Based on her description, I recognized that Ms. Manager was aware of threats to negative face. Her approached granted the employee some freedom (autonomy) to control the situation. This tactful approach was mentioned in the study by Wagoner and Waldron, cited in chapter 2 of the text.
I probed with more questions. What else had Ms. Manager learned about delivering feedback? She said that it helps to deal with negative feedback in private. This idea was one of the principles for giving feedback, mentioned in Chapter 2.
My next question was about 360 degree feedback. I mentioned that we had read about in class. What did she think about it? Did her company use this approach in performance evaluation? Ms. Manage was familiar with the idea and noted that she received feedback from both her boss and those employees who she supervises. I probed a bit more. Were her employees nervous about giving feedback to her boss? Ms. Manager explained that the feedback is anonymous. She only receives a summary from the Human Resources department. Our text stressed that employees must feel safe if 360% feedback is to be effective. It seems that Ms. Manager?s company is implementing this idea.