What’s It Like to Double Major with Professional Writing?

Filed in Student Experience by on October 29, 2018

At the start of my college career, I found myself having to choose between two of my great interests—chemical engineering and writing. Going to WPI, it would have been foolish to lose the opportunity to earn a reputable engineering degree in favor of my more artistic ambitions, but I wouldn’t have been true to myself if I ignored what a powerful force writing is in my life. So I decided to not compromise, and double major instead.

Combining chemical engineering and writing might seem like a reach at first glance, but even in my second year of college, I’ve already found many ways in which they combine. In academics, learning to be clear, concise and structured in my writing has made my lab reports noticeably better, because I’m learning how to share complex concepts in understandable terms. And in the workplace, the value of a second degree in writing—or a second degree in chemical engineering—has immediately become apparent.

On an internship in a manufacturing plant last summer, I discovered that I could help the company translate analysis techniques from English to Spanish (I’m bilingual) much faster than most people: not only could I translate the document into coherent writing, but I also understood the technical concepts it was trying to convey. It made what would have once been an extremely complex document to translate into a twenty-minute job.

Beyond that, employers are genuinely excited by the prospect of hiring double majors. In a writing job, knowledge of science and engineering beyond just writing ability gives you exactly the kind of depth of knowledge editors are looking for in their publications. And employers for engineering positions are always intrigued by a double major with one foot in engineering and another in writing. When it comes to hiring, they want someone well-rounded and good at communicating—both skills gained through writing.

It’s not that it’s easy to double major. My particular combination of majors is especially tricky at a smaller school like WPI, because the chemical engineering sequence tends to overwhelmingly overlap with required writing courses, which don’t tend to have many sections. It requires a lot of work, a lot of time management, and sometimes even overloading… but the smaller humanities-oriented classes with approachable professors do a great job of balancing out larger, math-based classes. They give you a chance to occupy your mind on something different—whether it’s researching another scientific field to write about, or exercising your writing muscles through different genres.

In the end, the combination of professional writing with a very different major makes for a thorough, educational and exciting college experience. And why settle for one degree when you could graduate with two?

About the Author ()

Nasim Mansuri is passionate about the written word and its role in the betterment of society. She is currently pursuing a BS in Chemical Engineering and a BS in Professional Writing at WPI.

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