Re: New Hires

Subject: Re: New Hires
From: "Mark Baker" <mbaker -at- omnimark -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Thu, 6 Jan 2000 12:18:42 -0500

Murrell, Thomas wrote

> Second, teach them how to think.

This issue raises a basic concern about the very idea of a technical writing
degree. Knowing how to think is the essential skill. But teaching people to
think is the job of the university and the mainline degree programs. If you
want to learn to think, take a degree in history or economics or theology.

I would never advise anyone to take a degree in technical communication in
preference to a normal undergraduate degree, precisely because of the
essential issue of learning to think.

As a second bachelors degree, there may be a role for a tech com degree, but
not as a primary course of study. Like teaching programs, technical writing
programs should require a BA or BSc as a prerequisite for admission.

Ron Rhodes wrote:

> Also, be sure that your students have a good working knowledge of all the
> products in Microsoft Office. Complete mastery of MS Word is an absolute
> must! But knowing PowerPoint, Access, and Excel are equally critical.

Tool training has no place in a degree program. No self respecting
university should give a degree for mastering a software package.

In any case, if a technical writing candidate asks for tool training it is a
sure sign they don't have what it takes to be a technical writer. If you
can't figure out how to work a software package by yourself, how will you
ever learn about the new products you will be documenting? There won't be
any manuals or training available until you write them!

Mark Baker
Senior Technical Communicator
OmniMark Technologies Corporation
1400 Blair Place
Ottawa, Ontario
Canada, K1J 9B8
Phone: 613-745-4242
Fax: 613-745-5560
Email mbaker -at- omnimark -dot- com

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