Initiative is the ability to initiate and act on tasks and projects independently. I employed this skill while on my final co-op term at TRIUMF, when I conceptualized, designed and produced new promotional materials for the lab.
Written Communication is the ability to write clear, grammatically correct, and compelling copy. I demonstrated this skill while acting as head of publicity for Eurydice when I wrote the press release for the production.
Critical thinking is the ability to reflect on tasks and understand the ways it which key ideas are connected to one another. I demonstrated this skill when I worked as a dramaturg to design the Eurydice gallery space.
Assignment 1 Reflection
As a communications assistant at TRIUMF, Canada’s national laboratory for particle and nuclear physics, I created content and promotional materials to share the lab’s research with the community. During my last term at TRIUMF, I demonstrated my initiative when I spearheaded the design of new outreach materials. In preparation for their distribution at a national conference, I took initiative by going beyond requirements, and produced a final promotional product that doubled as a teaching tool.
The creation of these outreach materials began when I quickly recognized that TRIUMF lacked outreach materials that were accessible to the general public, since much of the lab’s print materials consisted of text heavy posters and challenging scientific jargon. I decided that a dynamic new outreach piece was necessary to engage with the public and encourage them to learn more about science. I pitched the idea of a “Particle Family” sticker set: these stickers would each represent a fundamental particle and would be accompanied with a description of the particle’s qualities, but written more like a “personality profile” and less like a textbook. Once I received approval from the communications team, I researched the standard model of particle physics in order to determine what qualities I needed to represent in the design. Since I was unfamiliar with the finer details of the standard model, I scheduled and conducted interviews with researchers at the lab. By taking this extra step, I ensured that my designs of these particles would reflect their actual scientific properties, making them an effective teaching tool. Following my initial research and several interviews, I trained myself in Adobe Illustrator, a program used by professional graphic designers. To do this, I completed several online tutorials on my own time, thus maximizing my design time in the office. I repurposed the information from my research to draft the particle descriptions, paying close attention to word choice in order to keep the information accessible. Once the designs were complete, I reviewed the product with the researchers. I critically reflected on my design choices with these researchers to identify the areas where the science behind the particles was not being communicated. I took their feedback and I adjusted my designs and copy until we arrived at the final product. I discussed the changes with these researchers, and upon receiving their approval, I sent the stickers and descriptions to print. Finally, rather than simply mailing these stickers and their descriptions to the conference organizers, I organized the stickers and copy into packages and placed them into custom designed, hand-stamped envelopes before shipping.
After I produced these materials, many conference attendees praised TRIUMF’s new stickers as an exceptional piece of science communication. These materials have since been incorporated into the TRIUMF tour to help guests visualize the particles that physicists study. I believe this situation demonstrates my initiative by showing how I go beyond requirements in order to succeed. Since transitioning back to school, I have worked to maintain this initiative in my coursework.
Assignment 2 Reflection
As the head of publicity for Eurydice, I occupy a multi-faceted role that requires me to work as a copywriter, graphic designer, marketer, and liaison to advertise our production. I used my written communication at the beginning of October to complete a key part of this process: the creation and refinement of a press release. I demonstrated my written communication by using precise, clear, grammatically correct, and appropriate language to produce an effective press release for the production.
Before the writing process began, I researched press release style in order to determine the standard format with which Canadian media outlets would be familiar. I supplemented this research with more localized information by reviewing past press releases from the Theatre and Performance Department. I compared the two formats and I selected the most salient qualities from both in order to arrive at an ideal format for this press release. I considered my audience and I identified the ideal audience as the following: Kitchener-Waterloo local, interested in the arts, and concerned with contemporary women’s issues. To structure the content of the press release, I reread the play itself and I identified the important themes. I also reviewed the design presentation to determine the specific aims of the director, which would inform what I highlighted in the press release. With this information in mind, I drafted the first iteration of the press release. I referenced materials from a previous English class to create a compelling headline and opening paragraph. I related the production to current events specific to the University of Waterloo in order to attract members of the ideal audience that I had defined at the beginning of my process. Once I completed the first draft, I sent the draft to the director and production manager for edits. While the copy was being edited, I gathered visual assets by attending a video shoot on my own time and taking photos. I edited the photographs and inserted them into the release. At the same, I compiled a list of potential partners to share the release with. I searched for organizations whose values and missions had connections to the themes of the show. Following the first round of edits, I revised the copy to create a final draft. This version was sent out once more to the director and once it was approved I prepared the press release for mass emailing.
After I finalized the press release, I received very positive feedback from the director, praising my writing and the way I related the content of the show to current topics. Since its distribution, I have received emails from the University student newspaper and other community members interested in seeing the show. I believe this task demonstrates my written communication by showing how I use precise, clear, grammatically correct, and appropriate language to craft promotional documents for this production.
Assignment 3 Reflection
As a dramaturg for UWaterloo Theatre & Performance’s Eurydice, I provided supplementary focused research for the actors and creative team. An important extension of this research was the installation of an immersive gallery space. During the term, I demonstrated my critical thinking skills when I worked as a member of the dramaturgy team to design the space. I used my critical thinking skills by understanding the connections between ideas to create a space that echoed significant elements of the production.
The construction of this gallery space began with research. I reread the script in search of important themes and I reviewed the notes from the design presentation to familiarize myself with the reference material for the show’s aesthetic. I identified the themes of love, death and mythology as the most salient elements and included them in my sources for design inspiration. In addition, I had attended the Eurydice wedding video shoot earlier in the term and I took note of the visual aesthetic that could be imitated in our lobby to create a unified experience for the audience. With this thorough collection of resources and design references in mind, I collaborated with the dramaturgy team to determine the design for the lobby. During this brainstorming session, I critically reflected on the production in order to identify the connections between the play, its themes, the director’s own interpretation and the aesthetic influences. I suggested that we create a space that reflects two separate weddings: one for Eurydice and Orpheus, and one for Eurydice and the Lord of the Underworld. With the help of the team, I refined the idea further and determined that instead of having both weddings in the lobby at the same time, the dramaturgs would execute a transformation from one wedding to another. Once we determined the necessary props for the space, I took initiative and volunteered to construct the wedding signage and the wedding cake. Shortly after I began the initial designs for the signage, the project hit a roadblock: the director did not agree with the decision to create an Underworld wedding for the end of the show. The dramaturgy team and I engaged in critical discussion with the director to get a clearer sense of his expectations, which led us to our final design: a space that began with a wedding solely for Orpheus, that later transformed into a wedding where he and Eurydice were equally represented.
After the production closed, the dramaturgy team and I received many compliments, anecdotally and via email, from audience members who found the lobby beautiful and immersive. This situations illustrates my critical thinking skills by demonstrating my understanding of the connections between ideas, not only during the first iteration of the lobby design, but also in the revisions made through collaboration with my team and the director.