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ALI Writing Labs

ALI Writing Labs are informal weekly workshops run by USC native English speaking students who will assist international students in drafting their academic and professional writing and communications. These workshops will help prepare students to engage in deeper discussions with their professors and connect students with additional writing resources at USC.

Fall semester sessions will begin September 14th and will be held three times a week on Zoom

  • Mondays (4pm PST) Led by Veronica
  • Tuesdays (5pm PST) Led by Natalie
  • Tuesdays (7pm PST) Led by Samantha

Each week in the program will focus on a specific topic and writing prompt (listed below). Students are encouraged to prepare responses to the prompts ahead of time and come to the sessions with these writing samples so that they can be discussed and receive instant feedback on the samples during the workshop. Similar to ALI Conversation Groups, the Writing Labs will create an informal atmosphere to help students gain confidence and inquiry skills.

Session Topics and Prompts by Week

  • Week 1 (9/14, 9/15)
    • Resumes: Structure
      • Prompt: Create a resume and focus on editing and perfecting the structure. Please including all necessary components, such as heading (name/contact information), body (professional experiences and additional skills/accomplishments), font style, and size etc. Feel free to use a resume you already have, but make sure it has been edited at least one time. 
  • Week 2 (9/21, 9/22)
    • Resume Content: Writing about Experiences  
      • Prompt: Create or bring a resume that focuses on the body sections where you illustrate your experiences and skill sets. Make sure you write about your professional and/or academic experiences using action verbs to explain your previous and current experiences with specific positive outcomes. We also suggest you bring a job posting to help the Writing Labs Leaders give specific feedback for your tailored resume. 
  • Week 3 (9/28, 9/29)
    • Cover Letters
      • Prompt: Prepare a cover letter for a job for which you are planning to apply in the near future. Focus on writing and editing the first paragraph. In the first paragraph (5 sentences or less), introduce yourself, the position you are interested in, and how you learned of the opportunity. We recommend bringing the job description to the Writing Lab session, so you can receive more individualized peer feedback. 
  • Week 4 (10/5, 10/6)
    • Bio Statements
      • Prompt: Write a one paragraph bio statement for LinkedIn describing your education, job experience, and any other important fact that you would like to share about yourself. 
  • Week 5 (10/12, 10/13)
    • Emails: Formal vs Informal
      • Prompts: Choose and respond to one of the prompts below by writing a short email in 2-3 sentences, including a greeting and farewell. 
        • Informal: Imagine you are assigned a group project and you need to contact your partners to set a meeting time to start the project. Write a short email introducing yourself and offering times to meet them. 
        • Formal: Imagine your professor emails you saying that they are missing an assignment that you already turned in. Write an email reply about how you submitted the assignment, and ask the professor a question about the grading policy for late assignments. 
  • Week 6 (10.19, 10/20)
    • Professional Emails and Contacting Potential Employers
      • Prompts: Imagine you discover on Linkedin a company or organization for which you would like to work. Choose one of the prompts below by writing a short email in 2-3 sentences, including a greeting and farewell. 
        • Write a short email to the company. Introduce yourself, share how you heard about the company, and mention any documents that you have attached to the email (resume, cover letter, etc.).
        • Imagine you interviewed for the job a week ago and have not heard back from the interviewer. Write a follow-up email thanking the interviewer and asking what will happen next.
  • Week 7 (10/26, 10/27)
    • Writing Style and Tone: Approaching Academic Writing (identify and choosing)
      • Prompts: Choose one of the following prompts below to share during the Writing Lab session. If you have any questions about these prompts, please bring them to the Writing Labs session.
        • Write 1-2 paragraphs about a movie or book with which you are familiar and express your positive or negative opinion. It should be clear if you like or dislike the book/movie. 
        • Write 1-2 paragraphs about a topic on which you are knowledgeable (i.e. your favorite band, your home country, etc.). Use language to convey your certainty (lack of doubt) and the limits of your knowledge on the subject. 
        • Write 1-2 paragraphs about USC in either a journalistic (opinion focused), academic (research focused), or conversational (personal/informal) tone. You can write about any aspect of USC (your major program, campus, international student life, history, etc.). 
  • Week 8 (11/2, 11/3)
    • Academic Proposals and Abstracts
      • Prompt: Write an abstract that could be used in a research or conference proposal on a topic you are currently researching or studying. Your abstract should be less than 200 words and act as a snapshot of what your research or conference presentation will be about.
  • Week 9 (11/9, 11/10)
    • Academic Presentations 
      • Prompts: Choose one of the prompts below to share during the Writing Lab session. 
        • Write an outline for a short academic presentation. Show the progression of your presentation from start to finish and briefly write about what you are going to cover on each slide. 
        • Create an introduction or context powerpoint slide for an academic presentation (topics may include a current research project or a subject that you have learned at USC). Be prepared to orally present your slide in 2 minutes to your peers in the Writing Labs session. 

To join Writing Labs, please register HERE.  After you have registered, you will receive Zoom links via email (within 24 hours).