Jo Doran, Ph.D., M.F.A.

Assistant Professor & ESL Coordinator, Northern Michigan University

Personal Project – 493

Personal Project (350 points)

If you do not want to apply to graduate school or apply for a job, you will choose a specific avenue of research and application. You must include the following:

  • Resume or CV
  • Cover Letter or equivalent (such as mission statement, teaching philosophy, or other approved document)
  • A chosen project interesting and helpful to you
  • Informational Interview or Research:
    • If you choose an informational interview, you will interview one person in your field. For example, if you want to work in publishing or editing, you may want to interview a publisher or someone from a publishing company; etc. You will need to record (if agreeable to your interviewee) your interview, type out your questions and your notes – in detail.
    • If you choose research, you will perform research related to your personal project. For example, if you choose to create a blog site related to a company you plan, you will research similar/related blog sites. We will discuss this during individual conferences.
  • Personal response paper: You will write a personal response paper that must adhere to the following criteria:


  • 1200 words minimum
  • Single spaced
  • 11 or 11.5 point font
  • Times New Roman or Candara


  • An explanation of your project
  • Your goal(s) for the project
  • How you hope to use/apply this project in the (near) future
  • Information on either your informational interview or your research
    • If you perform an Informational Interview, you must include information from this interview:
    • Contact information on your interviewee – and your interviewee choice must be approved by me.
    • Your questions and notes
    • Feedback you received from your interviewee
    • Application of this to your own life
    • Other pertinent information
    • What you learned from this project

Here are some examples of what previous students have completed based on their occupational goals:

  • Journalism Work: This student created a website where she uploaded all of her newspaper clippings, her photography related to newspaper work,  included information about herself, etc. Additionally, she researched several newspapers to determine where she might want to apply after graduating.
  • Children’s Book Writer: This student created a website where he developed a site to connect with 1) other children’s books authors and 2) a specific age group of children that might want to read his books. He also researched the Children’s Market Book and other sources for places to send his queries, and he wrote three query letters during the semester.
  • Food Reviewer: This student created a website (up and running, edited and current with weekly posts) where she posted her reviews in a professional manner. She also created a query letter she could use/change for each application to magazines.
  • Writer/Songwriter/Band Member: This student created a professional blog site (up and running, edited and current with weekly posts) where he included music from his band, creative writing excerpts, travel reflections and plans, etc.
  • Book Store Owner: This student researched the possibility of opening her own bookstore in the U.P. She interviewed bookstore owners/managers, researched the demographics of the area she wanted to live, developed a general marketing plan, and wrote a response paper on her findings and decision.
  • Teaching Abroad: This student researched her desired area (country), interviewed people who had taught abroad/were teaching abroad, interviewed founders/managers of study-abroad organizations, demographics, requirements, etc., which culminated in a personal research paper.
  • Technical Writer: This student was a full-time employee of a company where he wrote technical manuals and white papers, using design techniques and writing. He designed a short technical manual used for customer service purposes by his company to clients. Additionally, this student researched the possibility of getting his MBA through research/reflection in writing a personal research paper.
  • Online Store: This student created a website, with her colleague, to sell T-shirts they make. The site included background information on the company, a mission statement, connections to outside and pertinent sources, etc.
  • Writer of Children’s Books: This student created a website that included two audiences. One audience was the child reader, where the student used a voice appropriate to the reading age of the child to engage children in becoming more avid readers using classic literature and newer books. The other audience included other writers of children’s books, and the student used this section of the website to engage such writers in discussions on writing and books.
  • Baker & Organic Farming: This student created her own business, created a flyer and business card for her business, interviewed three local organic farmers, and performed in-depth research on organic farming and wrote a reference journal. This student had plans, originally, for staring a farm with her sister.

Consider what you might focus on during this course. We will discuss your possible plans and set up an assignment that meets your needs.