Work experience: but not as you know it
Hello, we’re The Writer, the world’s biggest language consultancy.
We’re looking for students, ideally second-year undergraduates, to come to our two-day Word Experience on Wednesday 12th and Thursday 13th April.
If you like what you read, be sure to send us your application by Friday 24th March. (You’ll see how to get in touch a bit further down.)
What’s ‘Word Experience’?
We get a lot of requests from people wanting to come on work experience. But we’ve always felt work experience was pretty unsatisfactory all round: we can’t help many people in a year; you inevitably end up doing quite a bit of boring stuff; and, if we’re honest, it’s a lot of work to do well. (And who wants to do it badly?)
So we cooked up Word Experience: we gather about 20 people together for two days of creativity, workshops and fun stuff. Along the way we’ll talk to you about how you can make a career out of writing for business, show you how our agency works, and some Writer folk will tell you their own stories of how they got into business writing. All to show you there’s a career for people who like words that isn’t publishing or journalism.
Then we usually pick two people from each year to come back and join us for a short paid internship. (And some of those have ended up working here.)
Keep reading if:
You already write for your course
Maybe you study English, journalism or creative writing. Or maybe you just write a lot of essays.
You write in your spare time too
You might write for your student paper, a blog, or fiction. It doesn’t matter as long as you write.
You’re a bit of a word geek
You have a tendency to get excited or properly riled up by all kinds of writing. From tube ads to tubes of toothpaste, Booker Prize winners to Charlie Brooker.
Yes that’s me. What do I need to do?
Send us 300 words telling us why we should pick you (and a way for us to get in touch with you) to firstname.lastname@example.org. Make sure ‘Word Experience’ and your name are in the subject line. And get it to us by Friday 24th March.
Here’s what previous Word Experiencers have said:
‘Word experience is, in a nutshell, the workshop we all should have done ages ago. Finally it feels like there’s a company out there who is trying to show you how to turn what you love, into what you do. Those two days in London opened my eyes to an industry I was surrounded by and yet unaware of, it gave me a whole new appreciation for marketing, for words and for the people who write them.’
‘Hands-on activities included the sorts of word games that seem like harmless entertainment while you do them, but come loaded with Karate Kid-style moments of realisation that detonate later on. The other day I was struggling over an email to a tutor, then something clicked and (wax on, wax off) I realised I could cut out half the words to make it cleaner and clearer.’
Words by Suzanne Worthington
Are you already testing your documents to check their ‘reading age’? Well, one company is taking it a step further.
I spotted this piece in the Chartered Insurance Institute’s Journal, about a focus group set up by Covéa Insurance.
They ran a real-life reading age test
Covéa wanted to find out what was tricky to understand in their policy wording. (So they’re already a step ahead in trying to make their wording clearer.) But they did something extra-clever: their focus group participants were all between 11 and 13 years old.
That may sound odd, but their rationale makes sense. If, as the Covéa study quotes, 16 per cent (5.2 million) adults in England have the literacy level of, or below, an 11-year-old – why not just ask 11-year-olds?
Turns out kids don’t like over-complicated documents either
You can only see the Journal online if you’re a subscriber, so here’s what they found.
1. The children were confused about the meaning of words like ‘premium’, ‘excess’ and ‘write-off’.
2. They found it much easier to understand concepts when the researchers used simple words to help them imagine something happening. For example, if you tipped your home upside down and shook it, the stuff that falls out is the ‘contents’. (Neat.)
3. They found information easier to understand when it was in bullet points, tables or graphics. Just like grown-ups, then.
Let’s write off unclear wording
Policy wording, terms and conditions, contracts. If a lawyer can show that a document wasn’t clear enough for a normal reader then the document won’t stand up in court (even if people signed it to say they agree).
Too often, policy writers and lawyers assume too much of their readers. So ask a real person if they understand your wording. Or, better yet, follow Covéa’s lead – ask an 11-year-old.