Kristin MacKenzie '13, November 10th, 2011
Omitting the email subject line, long-winded paragraphs, use of “Internet speak”-employers of recent college graduates often complain about the relaxed style in their new employees’ business correspondence. The problem is, most college students never realize what they’re doing wrong while communicating in the business arena.
The Mays Communication Lab recently reopened its doors with one goal in mind: combat the unprofessionalism that has seeped into students’ business communication.
“The way we write and speak influences how we’re perceived,” says Jeana Simpson, Communication Lab administrator. Simpson holds a degree in cognitive studies from Vanderbilt University, and the Bryan native has moved back to Texas eager to help business students with their written and oral communication skills.
The lab in 339 Wehner was originally established as part of the Transitions program, which included the lower-level communication intensive course, BUSN 205. The communication lab’s primary function was to support the written and speech components of this course, but in May 2011, the Transitions program was discontinued due to budget cuts and the lab was closed. Mays faculty and staff continued to recognize the need for communication feedback, and in October 2011, the lab was reinstated. It now offers its services to all Mays students, regardless of their enrollment in communication intensive courses.
“My vision is for students to strengthen their professional voice,” says Simpson.
To accomplish this, the lab offers:
- Individual computer workstations
- Individual and team consultations for presentations and written reports
- Audio/ video recording equipment for team and individual speaking practice
- Workshops to address common communication errors and issues
- Intentional feedback from hired business communication consultants
Simpson says the communication lab’s focus is on “how to get skills from the ground up.” “We don’t want students to realize their senior year that they don’t know how to write, edit, and speak on reports,” she says.
She says she feels confident that students will see a difference in their written and oral communication abilities as a result of the lab’s programs. “Our hope is that students can go into their first job with confidence in their communication skills.”