As a graduate English student at Mills, you’ll have a wide range of opportunities both in and out of the classroom to gain valuable experience in teaching, publishing, performance, presentation of critical work, and professional art practice. We maintain an active listserv where calls for work, conference announcements, and other professional opportunities for students are posted. Faculty also regularly alert students to professional opportunities suited to their specific needs and talents.
Graduate students in our programs pursue teaching experience across multiple contexts. Courses in pedagogy include:
Theories and Strategies of Teaching Writing
Theories of Creativity and the Teaching of Creative Writing
Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages
Community Teaching: Literary Arts Education, Theory, and Pedagogy (part of Project Verb)
Some of these classes include a required teaching practicum. Students can get direct experience through internships at local community colleges and volunteer teaching in community centers throughout Oakland.
On campus, students can earn course credit and gain valuable practical experience by arranging a teaching practicum with a Mills professor in an undergraduate classroom. These TA opportunities can be pursued in a wide array of classes, including creative writing and literature. While not paid employment, a teaching practicum will appear on your transcript as evidence of classroom teaching experience.
The English Department encourages students to apply for partial-tuition graduate assistantships. Classroom assistantships at Mills are unique in their focus on mentorship and collaboration, rather than grading papers or making photocopies. Students awarded graduate assistantships in the composition program, undergraduate senior thesis classes, and book art studio classes work closely with faculty and directly with other students. We do not ask graduate students to teach multiple sections, believing instead that your graduate education should allow you to apprentice as a teacher while focusing on your own development as a writer and scholar.
You may also work with faculty to complete an unpaid practicum as a teaching assistant in an undergraduate literature or creative writing class at Mills. This option allows you to get academic credit for an on-campus teaching internship while working with a master teacher in a course of your choice.
Our highly knowledgeable faculty are generous in conversation about publishing in various contexts, from small press poetry to agented fiction.
Each year, The Place for Writers produces a series of talks on publishing and sometimes offers the chance to pitch your project to a literary agent. Other Place for Writers programs include a community dinner cooked by Mills MFA poets alongside writers from the wider San Francisco Bay Area literary community, and a series of lunchtime talks featuring local editors and publishers.
Those interested in learning more about the process of editing a literary journal are invited to work as editorial staff for our journal 580 Split. Graduate English students also regularly complete internships at local independent publishers to gain experience in the field.
Our literature professors encourage students to send proposals to conferences in relevant fields, and our graduate students present papers at scholarly conferences in the Bay Area, nationally, and internationally. Conference exposure brings students more academic contacts and can often lead to the publication of an article.
You’ll have several opportunities to present your creative and critical writing. Works in Progress events include a Tuesday reading series of new creative writing by students and faculty, and lunchtime talks where students and faculty present new scholarly research and writing.
In addition, The Place for Writers hosts an annual open mic event, interdisciplinary workshops, and readings. Our graduate English students represent Mills across the San Francisco Bay Area at annual Litquake events, and at Poetry Center San Jose, Small Press Traffic, and other local literary venues.
Graduate students in the MFA in Book Art and Creative Writing Program have the opportunity to work with a diverse group of visiting artists, writers, and scholars through residencies and workshops. Our students have collaborated on a book with Katarzyna Bazarnik and Zenon Fajfer of the Polish movement “Liberature.” They have made paper with Drew Cameron of Combat Paper, worked with past artist-in-residence Jen Bervin, and taken an intensive workshop with internationally known printmaker Tom Killion.
At Mills, the Book Art Pocket Gallery, a campus space dedicated to student work, showcases graduate student work twice a year. Students act as curators for exhibitions at the Center for the Book in the F. W. Olin Library, often collaborating with scholars from other institutions, and create public art projects through their classes. The thesis exhibition of work by our graduating MFA students takes place in a professional gallery in Oakland. Students in their nonresident semester are supported in seeking space and residencies in order to continue their work and prepare for their exhibition.