Badriyyah Al-Islam (MAWRD 2011) currently works as an independent writer with a focus on servicing small businesses and nonprofit organizations in Chicago. After investigating local businesses in the area, she quickly learned that many sole proprietors, partnerships, and nonprofit agencies have neither the means to hire nor the initiative to search for a full-time staff writer who can serve their business needs. As an independent writer, she works with such organizations on a range of professional writing projects.
What is a typical day “on the job” for you?
I love working as a professional writer, and I am especially pleased to assist some of Chicago’s small businesses and nonprofit organizations that need help the most. As an independent writer, my daily schedule includes communicating with clients, managing the business aspect of my career, conducting research for various projects, and writing. I help these organizations with professional writing projects such as proposals, human resources policies, company manuals, standard operating procedures, letters, memos, presentations—whatever they need written down! I also work with community organizations to prepare academic workbooks and tutoring materials for both children and adults.
How have your studies at DePaul influenced what you’re doing now?
I enjoyed my time as a DePaul graduate student, and I appreciate the opportunity it has given me to advance my career as a professional writer. My studies at DePaul showed me that “writing” is not just sitting in a corner alone, waiting for original words and ideas to come out of my head so I can put them onto paper. In fact, some of my clients already have existing text that I work from. In these instances I find myself using the text I have been given, extracting additional information through research, and rewriting the documents to make them better. For me, being a professional writer is like being a problem solver.
What was the most helpful course that you took while working on your degree?
Two of the most helpful courses I took at DePaul were Technical Writing and Writing for the Web. In these two classes I learned how to recreate and repurpose a text, taking the old and turning it into a new, more useful piece of writing. I use this skill almost every day in my career. Being able to look at a document and quickly tell a client what improvements could be made has helped me to prove my value. These courses also taught me some basic formulas for success when it comes to technical writing, and I find myself referring to these concepts often.
What advice would you give a WRD student who would like one day to do work similar to yours?
My advice to any student wishing to become an independent writer is to treat yourself as a business and focus, focus, focus! Take a course such as ENG 407: Language and Style for Writers to perfect your basic writing skills. Think about your passions and try to find writing assignments in that area. Before coming to DePaul I worked in healthcare management, grants management, academics, and nonprofit service. I am familiar with these areas so I am able to communicate and write effectively for clients. Think seriously about what you know and start writing about it! There are many freelance writers in the world but I’ve found that the ones who are happy and successful always have a plan and a passion for the work. I love what I do, and I thank the DePaul faculty and staff for helping me to achieve my professional goals.