Major Assignments

Informational Interviews

Networking is an increasingly crucial skill for job seekers and professionals. Through meeting and sustaining relationships with other business professionals, we can support our professional development, lifelong learning, and discover timely opportunities to apply our current skills and expertise. For this assignment, you will identify and request a networking or informational interview with two professionals in your field. Consider one contact who can provide mentorship on your direct career path and another contact who can provide perspective on an adjacent area of expertise.

Create an Interview Reflection Post for both interviews. You will report a summary of the discussion you had with your contact and reflect on what your learned from the experience. You should give your contact full attention during the interview, but also be prepared to write up your notes immediately afterwards while the experience is still fresh in your mind. The suggested length is 800-1200 words per post.

Messages and Interview Scripts

see GDrive for templates in “Networking Materials” folder

  • Interview Request
  • Interview Script / Question List
  • Meeting Confirmation and Additional Details
  • Thank you / follow-up Message

Interview Reflection Post(s)

  • Create a post on our course site
  • Use the “Informational Interview” Category
  • Use the Interview Post Template (see below)
  • NOTE: Remember to also send a Thank You message to your contact (be sure to include the link to your post)

Post Template

[Write a brief introduction describing the idea and value of an informational interview.]

The Contact

  • Name:
  • Title/Position:
  • Company:
  • Industry:

[NOTE: If you contact did not give you permission to share their name, you should only indicate their position and their type of company.]

Questions about the Contact

Career, Company, Industry; Skills, Success

 [Insert a summary of the questions you asked and the responses you received]

Questions about Communicating for Leadership

 [Insert a summary of the questions you asked and the responses you received]

Questions seeking Advice for you

Background, Skills, Resume, Job Search and Interviewing

[Insert a summary of the questions you asked and the responses you received]

Conclusion and Final Thoughts

[Reflect on the interview experience: What did you learn? What were you surprised by? What conclusions or main ideas can you take away from the interview? What will you do differently in the future now that you have had this experience?]


Effective responses to this assignment will achieve several aims:

  • Network: network effectively through existing contacts and social media serviced like LinkedIN to find relevant and high quality contacts for the interviews
  • Ask and Listen: ask engaging and well-considered questions and practice active listening skills including constructive follow up questioning that results in substantive discussion and quality information
  • Share: present the results of the interview with thoughtful reflection that demonstrates learning and growth in a professional manner on the course blog


Research Report

Communicating complex ideas through formal written reports is a core competency both for leading change and for communicating expertise in order to attract new opportunities and partnerships. For this assignment, you will choose an established genre of written report and use it to address a compelling leadership challenge.

You can choose to write an analysis of a case, a recommendation report for a business problem, or a white paper marketing an idea, expertise, of type of business solution for internal or external audiences. The topic could address communication specific issues, but it is not required. The main idea is to practice communicating for leadership in a formal written format by motivating an audience to adopt a specific solution or recommendation. The suggested length is 1600-2400 words.

As you research your topic of interest, you should identify these key components for an effective research report:

  • a decision-maker (audience)
  • a business problem (could also be a opportunity or significant trend)
  • a solution (could also be a recommendation or an application based on a case example)

Next, you will need to identify the most appropriate format and style for your report. Business reports will be especially well-suited for addressing case problems that focus on a specific client and/or an internal organizational context. White papers typically address external audiences and vary more widely in format. They can present and recommend technical solutions, advocate for specific policy decisions, or market expertise and services through the use of case examples. To put it simply, business reports put research and expertise in the service of organizational change, while white papers market innovative ideas through compelling case studies.

Guidelines for Business Reports

Suggested Format

I. Front Matter

  • Cover Letter (to instructor)
  • Title Page
  • Executive Summary
  • Table of Contents

II. Body

  • Introduction
  • Discussion
  • Conclusions
  • Recommendations

III. End Matter

  • References
  • Appendices (as necessary)

Guidelines for Case Studies and/or White Papers

Suggested Format

Cover Letter (to instructor)

I. Introduce the problem and client in the intro.

  • Cover the desk-pounding moment in the lead.
  • Describe the client in the background section.
  • Summarize the need in the nut graph.

II. Outline the problem, solution and results in the body.

  • Detail the problem in the first section.
  • Outline the solution in the second section.
  • Describe the results in the third section.

III. Wind up in the conclusion.

  • Transition to the future in the wrapup.
  • Show how far we’ve come — or where we’re going — in the kicker

NOTE: You could also structure part II of the report as a series of mini-case studies.

Adapted from  Writing a Compelling Case Study 

Style and Editing Guides


Effective responses to the assignment will demonstrate the ability to:

  • research and analyze business problems for specific contexts and audiences
  • communicate complex ideas and create effective arguments supported by multiple types of evidence
  • develop conclusions and recommendations geared to stakeholder needs
  • reference and cite primary and secondary sources with integrity
  • create compelling visual aids and professional document designs
  • edit for conciseness, clarity, and style

See complete Research Report Assessment Rubric


Formal Presentation

Communicating through presentations is essential skill for leaders at all levels of organizations. Effective presenters bring together a range of skills for audience analysis, messaging, oral communication, visual communication, and an ability to craft memorable messages and tell powerful stories. In many situations, the primary focus of a presenter may be to communicate data and results in a clear way to support evidence-based decision making. However, leaders who face the challenge of motivating individuals, teams, and organizations need to balance argumentation with inspiration.

In this assignment, you will create a “TED Talk” style presentation that communicates “ideas worth spreading.” Your talk could develop from a personal passion or interest or it could share the results of a personal learning journey, or the results of research to solve a professional or disciplinary problem. It should be supported by a professional designed slide deck that follows the contemporary trend to minimalist and highly visual slide design. Above all, it should be built around compelling and memorable stories, examples, and application that help your audience relate, understand, and remember your message. The suggested length of your talk is 10-14 minutes.

These presentations will be delivered the final weekend of the course and will be professionally recorded. As a team, we will will edit together the live video and slides to create a TED-talk style video to be posted on our blog portfolios.

The core components of the assignment will include:

  • Teaser Abstract: 100-200 words
  • Slideshow: including title slide and references and credits
  • Edited Video: including video and audio of presentation and slides


Effective response to the assignment will succeed in meeting the following key criteria:

  • Is the talk personal and passionate? Does it create a sense of energy and purpose?
  • Does the talk take the audience on journey? Does it help us understand a process of change or narrate a story of development?
  • Does the talk feel important? Does it discuss ideas worth spreading?
  • Is it focused and concise? Does it eliminate extraneous detail to focus on a core message that feels earned and has impact?

See complete Formal Presentation Assessment Rubric

One Response

  1. Nov 21: Composing Process and Reports
    Nov 21: Composing Process and Reports · November 21, 2014 at 18:19:26 · →

    […] Assignments […]

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