So could you please state your job title, where you currently work and how long it’s been since you graduated from college?
Sure. So I currently work for So-fi or Social Finance, which is a FinTech company. I am a member service representative for them. And I graduated with my undergrad in 2015.
Wonderful, and how long have you worked in that field?
Brand new–three months, four months.
Awesome. Wonderful. What were you doing before that since you graduated?
Hospitality and event management. So, much different than what I’m doing now. But all customer service based so.
That makes sense. Yeah. Could you tell me just sort of your primary job functions briefly?
Sure. Yeah. So I basically work in a call center. So I’m talking to people all day, kind of troubleshooting any issues they might have with the app or like logging into their profile or issues with like transactions they may have? And I also service, our Invest product as well as our credit card.
Wonderful. And could you estimate in an average week, what percentage of your job requires writing?
This typing count?
Okay. A lot of it. I don’t–I mean, there isn’t a single call that I take that doesn’t involve writing. I have to notate every single thing that I do.
Perfect. Okay. And so, yeah, what kinds of documents–what do you use to document those calls?
I use Google Docs to like take notes, or Google Keep rather, which is like a little note taking–I was unfamiliar with it before this job–so I take notes in that. And then I usually transfer those notes into two or three different systems that we have. So like, one tracks a certain thing, one tracks with the profile one tracks, like every call that we get. So
Gotcha, and what is the primary purpose of that documentation?
To track our members and like kind of what they do and what they need help with, as well as like, basically, how we assisted them or they’re the issue that they were having.
And who’s who’s going to read those documents? Who are the audiences, once you put those into that–those systems?
I mean, it could go up as high as like, if the CEO wanted to read it. So it really ranges. Like our associate managers, our managers, people along my level as well. So it’s open communication for basically the whole company, if they wanted to go into the program to look at it.
Gotcha. Okay, that makes sense. And is–that’s the primary type of writing that you do?
Are there other types that you frequently do?
Um, I’ll do like evaluations and stuff like that. Or I–we have an internal communication system called slack. So I use–we, that’s basically our form of communication between like peers, as well as managers and internal.
That makes sense, you’re more likely to use slack than you are by email, if it’s internal?
Nine times out of 10, yes, which is new for me, because I was an email queen in my last job. But we also have like, we also have a chat forum that we have to communicate with members on, so that’s another source, emails, sometimes more internal emails, than like member emails, but still they’re emails.
And when you think about maybe the documentations about the calls that you take, how did you know how to perform that kind of writing?
Training. Like, I, like I said, I’m brand new to this. So I had no idea what I was doing. It was a lot of like, watching other people do it, learning from them, and then basing off of like, my notes style of taking, so I usually overtake notes, and then kind of delete things away as I need to. So that’s, that’s how I learned.
Gotcha, gotcha. And what was the most challenging thing about writing those?
Um, I think for me, it’s keeping up with the customers like when they call in and they rattle off 13 things within a minute. And like having to hear it all, type it all, and troubleshoot at the same time. That can be pretty overwhelming at times. But it’s a skill that I’m like, learning more and more.
Wonderful. Yeah. Thinking over your career as a whole, not just in this job or in this field, has there ever been a time that you felt unprepared as a writer?
Yeah. Specifically, like in the positions that I’ve been in before I, I was a manager, which I feel like is a very relative term in the world. But I didn’t do like a lot of contract writing in my undergrad or in high school for that matter. Like it was a very brief overview if you do anything like that. So I feel like that was one big thing that I didn’t super understand and kind of had to acclimate to in each position that I was in. I’ve definitely been more of a formal writer, like proper grammar and stuff like that ever since. So like, the adjustment of seeing people who use improper grammar or…like abbreviations or like put “ppl” instead of people. That’s been an adjustment. But those are probably the two biggest weird things for me.
And does anyone oversee your writing? I know, we talked about like, those documents could go all the way up. But is there someone who’s sort of looking at your writing consistently or not necessarily?
Yeah, we have a quality and assurance team that goes in and double checks us. It’s not, I mean, it could be as frequent as a couple of times a day, it’s typically every couple days that they’ll go in, listen to our call. And then from there, they usually will go to the note and make sure that we have documented everything properly.
Gotcha. Okay. And so when, when they’re thinking about the quality of your writing there, it’s really just have you captured everything that took place in that call,
Right. Yes, that and like, they want to make sure that you’re not over noting, under noting, they want to make sure that you have like, legible grammar for the next person coming in. So they understand what the problem is, as well as like making sure that you articulated every single–not every single thing that you talked about, but like making sure that you have noted the account, so if the next person calls in, they know exactly where to pick up from, instead of like having to troubleshoot something you already did or start the process over.
That makes sense. And how long do you typically have to write–to go from like, the notes that you took during the call to actually putting them in? Is that like, wrap it as soon as you hang up the call you put in those notes?
Yeah, so it’s, typically you get like 45 seconds to a minute. So it’s pretty challenging. There, you can be like strategic and like, if you place a member on hold, obviously catch up on your notes and kind of like debrief. But it is, it is pretty fast. So it’s, it’s a lot to handle.
That sounds stressful.
Okay. Um, like looking back at your undergrad, what kind of writing Do you remember being asked to do as a student?
I mean, there was like, the papers every once in a while that we had to like read something and then write a paper on it, or like notetaking was huge for me. I was a pen to paper kind of person, not an electronic kind of person. So I do remember taking a lot of notes and being pretty thorough in that. But I remember papers, that was like the biggest thing of like, read this information, spit it back out at me how you want it to sound and what you got from that, basically.
Yeah. And then are–do you think that your college writing prepares you for the writing that you do in the workplace?
In ways, yes. I mean, I haven’t written a paper since college. So I don’t necessarily think that they’re super conducive to the real world. I think it’s a good way to like learn the information and then retain it. But I couldn’t tell you like, any of the, like, any of the papers that I wrote, or like my final that I had to write, that was like 25 pages. I couldn’t–I could not tell you like, I don’t do any of that nowadays. So like the note taking that I did take–more, it more assisted me in any position that I’ve ever been in.
That’s really interesting. Yeah. Are there other things that you wish you had had to write or learn to write in college that would have been helpful?
Formal emails? I feel like especially in customer service, and like the event industry, like you’re constantly talking to people, you’re constantly like, communicating with them. And I feel like it was way missed. I mean, obviously you go through like the grammar in elementary school and then you pick up on the English in Middle School in high school, but like, it really did not hit me until I had like my first job out of undergrad where I really realized, Oh, I can make a template for this. And then I can just change things around for every email, or, Oh, like save me some time. And I can do this template and then in intermix this one like–definitely time saving skills would have been something to learn as well as like, learning how to write a formal email.
Or a resume.
Yeah, exactly. I feel even even having graduated from college. 20 years ago, I had the same experience. Yeah, yeah. It’s amazing that we haven’t evolved to teach that.
That is pretty crazy. I didn’t realize that.
So this is sort of a more abstract question. But what is at stake in your writing, like what could potentially be problematic if you don’t do a good job at writing in your current position?
I mean, I would receive coaching. They’re pretty–they’re pretty positive company. So they’re not gonna, like, sit you down and be like you to do this. So they’re very proactive and like trying to coach you to do better. In previous positions, though, I mean, it would have been detrimental. Like, if I wrote an email incorrectly, or I used a wrong, like, word or didn’t follow up on something that I was supposed to like, it could have been really bad for an event.
Perfect. Has anyone helped you with your writing formally or informally in the workplace?
Not really, I mean, at the job that I had before this, I was an event manager. And I had a really positive boss right above me who was like my senior. And she–the way that they wrote emails with this company was just different than I had ever experienced. They called it like “bubbly.” So it was like, it was all about weddings. So it had to be like more bubbly, and it had to have like a little more fluff to it. So like, I had to learn the way that they wrote emails, as opposed to coming from like a corporate job where it was very like to the point. But it was totally just like, throw you to the wolves. And like, you’ll figure out our format basically, before that job.
Gotcha. That’s really interesting. Yeah. Um, how do you believe you’ve evolved or improved as a writer over your career so far?
I think being in the several different positions that I have been in with customer service has helped me become a stronger writer. I also will say that I think that technology has made me a weaker writer, because I rely way too much on auto correcting for grammar, as well as spelling. So I try to do my best to not fall into that pit, but it happens sometimes. I will say that that last job with the positive coach that I had, that I was telling you about, she really helped me learn the difference between like, somewhere right in the middle between like a very formal business email and like a too casual email. So I feel like she was a big factor in how to find that sweet spot.
That’s great. Yeah. Um, to what extent do you think writing is valued at the company you’re with now?
It’s highly valued. It’s between like, the internal communication that we have daily, and I work from home now. So there’s no, there’s no talking to people in person, like, sure, I can hop on the phone and call someone or hop into a Zoom session. But like, it’s not–it’s it..it’s absolutely important. Like I can’t even stress the importance enough, that writing really is the only way that you get across and like, if you don’t take notes, or you improperly note something, the next time the member calls in, it’s just going to be a crappy experience for them. Because they’re gonna have to go through the whole entire process again, and then it’s doesn’t look too good on us. It doesn’t look too good on you. So it’s definitely extremely important where I work.
Excellent. And the last set of questions. So how do you define successful writing now, as opposed to how you would have defined successful writing as a student? And would you call yourself a successful workplace writer?
So when I was a student successful writing was like completing the paper. It was making sure that there was 350 words, if there needed to be 350 words. As an adult, an established professional, that means nothing. It’s honestly, in the position I’m in now it’s the less words that you can use the better. So how effective can you be with less words as opposed to more. So I do feel like I’ve–I do feel like I’m a pretty established professional when it comes to writing. I do still have like the ability to write formally if I need to. But I also understand like, how this company works is not extremely formal. So I, I’ve built the skills to be able to do the extremes and the in between.