Professional Communication Portfolio

In keeping with the focus and goals of RCL, we want to include some writing practices or routine messages that happen in everyday professional settings. While working in professional settings, such as the Millennium Scholars Program and elsewhere, it’s imperative to strike the right balance in tone and content. The communication portfolio is your opportunity to demonstrate effective professional writing through 8-10 samples of your everyday communication. (No more than 10 samples.)

Length: 100-500 words each. No document may exceed 500 words.

The following are examples to include in your portfolio:

  1. Job Application Info (Personal Essay and Resume)
  2. Positive Communication Email information request(s) for potential research (lab) opportunity
  3. Follow-up request
  4. Goodwill Message
  5. Negative Communication (Ethical issue with Dave during Research Analysis)
  6. Meeting Minutes
  7. Formal Thank You Letter (format for mail)
  8. Policy Change (with partner)


This mini unit is worth 5% your overall grade.

Possible Scenario #1: Resume and Personal Essay

Write a resume and personal essay to a potential research audience (that work together) to highlight your skills and experience as a research student.

Possible Scenario #2: Information request (email)

You are going to contact a researcher, lab, or industry to find out more about the group, lab, research, etc. Write an email in which you request information from the industry, research lab, or university. (Avoid inquiring about public information found on websites, catalogues etc.) In your email, you should not sell yourself or present yourself as a student begrudgingly completing a class assignment, but as someone (a research student) who is genuinely interested in knowing more about the research work and lab.

Scenario #3: Follow-up request (genre of your choice)

Professionals are busy people and often they ignore non-critical emails. Assuming that your email from #2 above was not answered or assuming that you got a response that requested additional specifics, write a second request for information. In writing this, how might you might word your request in order to not alienate the recipient? How much do you need to “remind” your recipient about the content of your previous email request? What are your exact needs? Do you want to write a script for a telephone call, text message, or send another email? Which communication genre might work best with your client?

Scenario #4: Negative Communication/Deny request (email)

Organizations often have unrealistic expectations that novice research students can accomplish in just a few weeks. In this scenario, your research professor has asked you to complete a task you cannot complete. In a polite but clear fashion, write an email to your research professor and explain why you cannot accomplish the task (or running behind schedule) and suggest an alternative plan. How do you politely deny a request that seems simple to your research professor? How do you maintain their trust in your expertise? What alternative would be feasible in such an instance?

Scenario #5: Thank you (formal block format letter)

You got a chance to work with a great research professor. You finished the project on time and it turned out well. Send a thank you letter to your research professor. How can you make the thank you letter specific (not a generic “thanks”)? Should you and, if so, how might you use the letter to invite further work?

Scenario #6: Meeting Minutes Memo to your instructor (memo)

Write extensive minutes for audience (the instructor), summarizing pertinent information discussed in the meeting. Minutes should be objective. Minutes should not record personal observations or opinions, voting numbers for or against an issue, or excessive detail. The purpose of minutes is to record the actions of the team or committee and to support follow up and completion of each decision made in the meeting. The format of minutes can be patterned after a meeting agenda.       (see example on Angel)

Leave a Reply