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Originally published February 2020
As a student of proposal writing rather than an active member of the field, it does feel presumptuous to be writing about the topic with a mere two semesters of writing for proposals (barely) under my belt. However, as a newcomer to the field, I do think I have an interesting perspective on the nature, function, and presence of the field. Without further ado, here are three things that initially surprised me about proposal writing.
1. It Exists
No, really! I had never heard of writing for proposals until I signed up for a course on it as an undergraduate student. At the time, I thought I was well-informed on what careers were available to me as someone skilled at both writing and research, but that class opened up a new dimension of possibilities. The most common line I’ve heard from proposal writers about how they got into the field was that they “just fell into it”: that proposal writing was something they took on in addition to other work, not something that they had trained for or studied prior to joining their profession. From that perspective, it’s understandable how the field of proposal writing might look like something of an open secret to a newcomer.
It’s clear that this field is one that’s constantly evolving
2. Everyone Needs a Proposal Writer
One of the most interesting things I’ve learned about the field is just how far it stretches. Since beginning to study the subject, I’ve had the opportunity to talk to proposal writers from a huge range of fields: grant writers for biochemical research, proposal managers for major tech companies, field specialist writers from engineering companies, grant writers working for international charities…the list goes on and on. For me, this is what drove home just how necessary and ubiquitous the art of proposal writing and management is.
3. There’s a Strong Community Waiting for You
As someone just starting out in the field, it’s comforting to see all the networks and resources available to proposal professionals who reach out and make connections with the community around them. APMP and organizations like them have accumulated a terrific body of knowledge, and I think it’s amazing that their certifications, seminars, and mentoring opportunities will allow those in my position to continue our education. It’s clear that this field is one that’s constantly evolving and that its members know that they can rely on one another to face the inevitable challenges that come with that.
The most common line I’ve heard from proposal writers about how they got into the field was that they “just fell into it”
I’m really glad that I’ve had the chance to learn about the world of proposals and the people who create them so early in my professional career. It’s undoubtedly been a fascinating and worthwhile opportunity. I’m really excited to learn more, grow my experience, and make more connections in this field, and I can’t wait to see how my perspective changes as I do so.
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