Re: The Real Offense

Subject: Re: The Real Offense
From: David Castro <thetechwriter -at- yahoo -dot- com>
To: Jason Deal <jason-deal -at- vertel -dot- com>, TECHWR-L Mailing List <TECHWR-L -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 8 Mar 2000 17:28:59 -0800 (PST)

> So the rest of you out there, especially the current students/recent grads,
> did you learn anything, and I mean anything at all, relevant to technical
> writing from the academic portion of college (I do not mean to infer that
> the interpersonal skills one learns in college are unimportant)? Am I just
> caught in an unfriendly system, or does academia's adherence to method over
> results actually hurt us all?

Well, I'm a bit removed from finishing my baccalaureate study in Technical &
Professional Writing at SFSU (1995), but I still remember what it was like
going from there to the "real world."

The SFSU program was an excellent program. It's gotten even better since then,
under the watchful eye of Lu Rehling, the program coordinator. I only wish
she'd been the coordinator for the full 2 years I studied there!

Anyway, the classes taught real-world issues, like how to write "well enough"
given the time crunch, how to renegotiate deadlines (yes, Lu let us push back
the deadline for a project!), and how to work with other types of writers
collaboratively. We wrote white papers, online help, and procedural
documentation.

Was it a shock moving into the real world? Yeah. I didn't believe it when I was
told that I would spend roughly 15-20% of my time actually WRITING. I figured,
"why would they call it technical writing if you're not writing?" But, alas,
most of my time is spent on other issues, such as trying to get the application
that I'm documenting to work, taking screen captures, fixing broken links,
trying to get RoboHTML to do what it's supposed to do, reporting on my
progress, planning for future deliverables, working out kinks when deploying
the help, incorporating technical and editorial reviews, arguing with
management about delivering online and hard copy by the quickly approaching
deadline, and learning new technologies, such as Active Server Pages,
JavaServer Pages, DHTML, and Cascading Style Sheets.

It's a wonderful field, and I love every minute of it. Well, love might be
overstating it a bit, especially considering I just found out that about an
hour's worth of actual writing might have been blown away by "getting latest"
from Visual Source Safe over the file. But, overall, I love this job! :-)

-David Castro
techwrtr -at- crl -dot- com
thetechwriter -at- yahoo -dot- com
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