Working at The Writing Center Creates Amazing Possibilities: An Interview with Dr. Marilee Brooks-Gillies

There are many different people who work as consultants for The Writing Center at MSU. We are graduate and undergraduate students with a variety of backgrounds and majors as well as a variety of ages. Most of the skills that you gain from working at The Writing Center can be used in a variety of jobs. No matter how cliché it sounds, The Writing Center opens so many doors with endless possibilities behind them.

As an undergrad consultant, it’s really an amazing thing to know that after I graduate, there will be so many opportunities for me as a result from working here. In order to really get an idea for what opportunities are, I interviewed former graduate consultant, Dr. Marilee Brooks-Gillies, who is now a Writing Center Director. Here’s what she had to say:

JLG: What did you do while you were working at The  Writing Center?

MBG: I worked at The Writing Center for 5 years. I co-coordinated the BCC, coordinated the Graduate Writing Groups, redesigned the Navigating the PhD workshop, co-developed a stand-alone workshops series called Learning the Lingo, attended Mentored Meetings, consulted one-to-one, facilitated many workshops, facilitated several graduate writing groups, helped redesign WC handouts, participated in dissertation research collection, conducted research about graduate writing (as a member of the Graduate Writing Research Cluster), developed many conference panels and presented at many regional (MWCA, ECWCA) and national conferences (IWCA, IWAC, WPA, CCCC IWCA Collaborative, NTCE IWCA Collaborative) with WC colleagues, and served on the Assessment Committee.

I taught WRA 395: Writing Center Theory & Practice. I took an independent study with Trixie about WAC and Space/Place. I cut scrap paper, photocopied handouts, cleaned tables, made and dumped out coffee. I filled the candy bowl. I hid chocolate from the candy bowl in my mailbox. I had conversations about writing with clients and consultants. I sometimes walked around the WC in my slippers. I made cookies and cucumber sandwiches and attended parties and (sometimes) open mic nights and game nights. And probably a lot more that I’m not remembering. I never made a ceiling tile. I regret that. If I visit, I’ll ask Trixie if I can make one. The WC was an important place to me (it still is).

JLG: Were you planning on taking any experience you gained at The Writing Center towards a future career? For example, being a teacher/tutor, web content manager, etc.

MBG: While at MSU, I was a graduate student in Rhetoric & Writing planning to become a professor of Rhetoric & Writing, so I always knew that WCs could be part of my future and that they were definitely an important part of the discipline I was studying. I am now the Writing Center director at the University of Colorado Colorado Springs.

JLG: Why did you decide to work at the MSU Writing Center?

MBG: I had worked at the CMU WC during my MA program and enjoyed the environment. While visiting MSU and being recruited for the PhD program, I met with Trixie and talked about the WC. I later applied for the WC fellowship and was awarded it. My assistantship for the first 2 years of my program was at the WC, and I continued to work at the WC hourly during the rest of my time there.

JLG: What are you doing, post Writing Center?

MBG: I am now the Writing Center director at the University of Colorado Colorado Springs. It’s kind of like having Trixie, Dianna, and Judy’s jobs all at the same time. My WC is much smaller than MSU’s, though, with only 15 consultants at a University that has 10,500 students.

JLG: What have you taken from The Writing Center that you use in your life/job?

MBG: Well, I direct a WC, so I took a lot from my time at the WC. I could go on and on and on about this, but I think the most important things are finding ways to maintain the quality of the work we do at the Center and providing professional development opportunities for consultants. I could expand on this if you would like.

JLG: If someone was considering working at The Writing Center, what advice would you give them?

MBG: Do it! If you want to have interesting conversations with students across the disciplines, this is an excellent position. If you want a supportive community of wicked smart and hilarious co-workers, this is an excellent job. If you want the opportunity to present at regional and national conferences about WC/writing/rhetoric, this is an amazing option.

JLG:  What advice would you give a consultant who is about to graduate, as far as experience from The Writing Center?

MBG: Hmmm . . . . I guess I would tell them that the experiences they have at the WC can serve them in pretty much any job. Being able to communicate with people around sometimes sensitive issues/materials is an important ability that takes practice; you get that kind of practice at the WC. Additionally, time management, project management, writing knowledge, etc. are part of the gig, too. Don’t lose sight of all the different kinds of work you do at the WC. 

2 thoughts on “Working at The Writing Center Creates Amazing Possibilities: An Interview with Dr. Marilee Brooks-Gillies

  1. Thanks for including this interview on the website, Jennifer! One small change, my last name is Brooks-Gillies. And, tell all the great folks at the MSU WC that I say hello!

  2. Wow, Mari, that reminded me of the cool stuff I also did in my many years at MSU WC that I should just carry over to my job here too! I guess the amazing opportunities were created and continued to be re-created in so many ways!

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