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Mariella Gradler

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How to hone your assignment-writing skills

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Almost every degree course requires students to write assignments. Those on cooperative study programs at Deutsche Telekom face this challenge every term.

At school I wrote an assignment in year 12, but it was only seven pages long and therefore not particularly taxing. At university, it's a different ballgame. Right from term one, we were required to write an academic essay on professional practice, also known as an assignment.

The first semester also included a module on academic writing, to help us hone our academic essay-writing skills. We learned where to find good, relevant literature and the importance of using up-to-date sources. Other aspects covered by this module include using journals as sources, formulating the main issue, using sources in English for non-native speakers, formatting our assignments, and the use of academic language.

My first assignment was part of the business studies module. We were given four general themes (cooperation, choice of legal format, choice of location, company format) and asked to formulate a main issue, which would then form the basis of our assignment. Because the co-operative study program uses a very practical approach, as well as addressing the four general themes, our assignments should also make reference to our employer Deutsche Telekom.

20190523_WAB-schreiben_Mariella

All beginnings are difficult. With a good planning and preparation nothing stands in the way of a successful paper.

So how did I go about it?

I sat down with my colleagues over lunch and simply asked them which topics spontaneously came to mind. This proved extremely helpful! We immediately hit on an issue which interested me and which I could write about, but which was also relevant to my coworkers: I decided to focus on the collaboration between the women's network Femtec and Deutsche Telekom.

The first step was to write a synopsis and agree the topic and methodological approach with our lecturer. Once this had been agreed I drew up a study timetable.  I set myself interim targets and wrote down

  • when I would start to look for literature
  • how I would find the information
  • when I would start writing, and
  • when I planned to finish.

I opted for an expert interview as my main source of relevant information about collaboration. Then it was time to start writing.

Getting started is always tricky, and I also struggled to find the right sources, filter the correct information and then link theory and practice together, but I learned a great deal from this first assignment. I am now in my second semester and will soon need to submit the synopsis for my second assignment. This time around I am a little more relaxed, and feel confident it will get easier the more assignments I complete. By the time it comes to writing my Bachelor’s dissertation, I will be very well prepared!

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