Professional Trades

Subject: Professional Trades
From: Patty Meglio <pmeglio -at- lct -dot- com>
To: "'TECHWR-L'" <TECHWR-L -at- LISTS -dot- RAYCOMM -dot- COM>
Date: Wed, 29 Mar 2000 09:59:39 -0600

<Doctors and lawyers go out into internships to learn the ropes. The basics
mechanics of being a doctor. Where to put the forms, how to take blood,
However, in their head is 4 years of education in viruses, anatomy,
etc. They don't leave med. school knowing that Upjohn makes a better
than DuPont.

Tech writers should be coming out of certificate programs with solid
engineering, science, and technology skills. This makes them intellectually
prepared for analyzing the information given to them. Knowing the theories
communication, audience analysis, tools, and so forth can be picked up
the way. >

Yes, but the problem with technical communications is that it covers such a
broad range of technical fields. The job I am currently in involves writing
for gravity and magnetics software, which is totally different from writing
for the telecommunications industry, which is totally different from
writing for the medical industry, and so on and so on. When I was in
school, I took elective courses that taught writing for medicine,
proposals, and newspapers. I also was required to take 3 semesters of
internships. This helped to give me a broad look at different disciplines,
but it also helped me to decide what areas of technical writing I wanted to
concentrate in. Each discipline had its own idiosyncrasies, which I find
very interesting.

But, learning engineering, science, and technology will only prepare you
for a small part of the field of technical communications. Studying writing
skills and practices in school was the best education and most useful for
me in everyday work, looking back. I will take these skills with me in any
area of technical communications that I decide to work.

Now that I have been working as a writer for a few years, I find that I
prefer writing for software and hardware, but the jobs listed in the areas
of the country that I am interested in do not necessarily require C++
knowledge, even though I have studied C++. Their requirements all vary
somewhat, but the common thread seems to be skills in information
gathering, working independently and in teams, and flexibility. These I
have learned, both on the job and in school. My portfolio reflects my best
work, and my ability to communicate confidence in my abilities and my
willingness to do what it takes to get the job done as professionally as
possible are no less important.

Patty Meglio

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