Field Report: Alumni Profile

For your first Field Report, you have the opportunity to connect with one of our recent Alumni and compose a dynamic profile, which will be posted to the course blog, and potentially used for other outreach and promotion purposes.

The first step of this process will be to understand the profile as a standard genre in journalism. Here are two sources to consult: the first, from; and the second posted on Medium. You might also do some searching on your own. As we have learned, one of the key English major skills is being able to research, adapt, and problem-solve. If you don’t feel that you have a rich enough understanding of the profile genre, please do some additional research.

The second step will be to generate a list of questions that we think will be most generative. We developed a list of such questions together as a class last year that you can consult. You can refer to this, and also develop specific questions related to your own interests and the background of the alumnus you’re interviewing.

The third step will be the matching process. You all reviewed our profile subjects here and ranked your choices. Those choices were shared via email.


You should plan to interview your subject some time before spring break. Your profile drafts will be workshopped after spring break.

Here are some core requirements for your profile:

  • Profiles should be 600-800 words
  • Profiles should include at least 1 image and 3 links (feel free to request images from your profile subject)
  • Profiles should include at least 2 quotes from your subject
  • Profiles should include at least 2 quotes from our reading
  • The audience for your profile includes current, potential, and life-long English majors and audiences interested in learning about the value and viability of an English degree.

What makes a good profile? Details matter. Narrative is crucial. Framing the profile in the broader context of our ongoing conversations about the values and viability of English is also essential. Review the links above for more information on the profile as a journalistic genre.

Additional hints:

  • You should ask to record your interview (if conducting virtually) prior to the start. This will allow you to accurately capture quotes.
  • Be professional and formal when you make first contact (and thereafter). You can use the subject’s first name, but you should address the subject as “Dear NAME” in the email, and include your name after the sign-off (e.g. “My best,” or “Sincerely”).
  • In your initial email requesting the interview, briefly introduce yourself (major, minor(s), interests, etc.)
  • You should request a resume or CV or LinkedIn connection (and other publicly available info that they would like to sure, like a company website, etc) from your subject so that you can prepare more relevant and specific questions.
  • When writing to set up a profile interview time, ask when your subject is available during work or after normal business hours. Try to be as flexible as possible.
  • During the interview itself, be prepared with questions, but also be ready to go off-script if the conversation takes some interesting turns.
  • Interviews should be framed as preparation for a profile piece, not as a class assignment. Do not approach this assignment as an academic or class exercise. Approach it as an opportunity to make a connection, to learn about an English alumni, and to hone your writing and interpersonal engagement skills. This profile will be a part of your final ePortfolio in the class.

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