Becoming a better writer with CLAS Master Class Series

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 As a part of the CLAS Master Class Series, Purbita Saha, a UConn graduate, presented on how to make one’s writing clear, compelling, and fun. One of the slides Saha presented was of a an issue of The Daily Campus from when Saha was an editor. Photo provided by author

The latest installment of the CLAS Master Class Series focused on teaching students how to make their writing “clear, compelling and fun.” Purbita Saha, a senior editor for Popular Science magazine and a 2012 graduate of UConn, led students through a presentation teaching them the ins and outs of getting work published, properly using research in an article and pitching article ideas to editors. 

During her time at UConn, Saha earned dual degrees in ecology and evolutionary biology and journalism and was an editor for The Daily Campus. Her interests in science and journalism led her to intern for The Audubon Society after graduation, where she covered science and conservation news. Now she focuses mainly on the editorial side of journalism, but she did share that she has the opportunity to write articles every once in a while.  

She stressed that stories can be found anywhere and everywhere, even in a relatively small area like on the UConn campus and in the surrounding community.  

“UConn is a microcosm of what is happening out in the world,” Saha said. “So finding connections and just hearing what people are talking about, or asking, those are always important catalysts for figuring out what you can write about.” 

Saha spoke about how the numerous businesses, people and events in the Mansfield community can also serve as topics for writing. For example, during her undergraduate years she stumbled upon a birds of prey rehabilitation center in Ashford and was able to write an interesting story about a couple who had essentially turned their backyard into a fully functioning rehabilitation center. It is stories like this that show if you are willing to put in the work, there is always something to write about! 

“UConn is a microcosm of what is happening out in the world, So finding connections and just hearing what people are talking about, or asking, those are always important catalysts for figuring out what you can write about.” 

Purbita Saha, Senior Editor for Popular Science Magazine, UConn ’12

The interactive part of the event allowed students to try their hand at writing a pitch. Saha came prepared with six different research articles published by UConn professors and researchers, and assigned attendees to breakout rooms where they had the chance to read through an article and come up with a quick pitch to present. These research-dense articles were challenging, but also provided a real-life simulation where students could practice the skills they had learned.  

“You need to sell your story … while keeping it real with what your story is about,” Saha said.  

Saha noted that editors receive multiple pitches per day, so making a pitch stand out is key. She recommended ending a pitch with a call for conversation, like posing questions, to engage the editor and have a higher chance of getting a response. 

The CLAS Master Class Series is a relatively new program created by the Center for Career Development which allows students to learn from employers and alumni who have experience in fields they are interested in.  

This was the final CLAS Master Class Series event of the semester, but you can check out the Center for Career Development’s website for updates on similar events in the future. 

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