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Ah! Mr. Gage I could not agree with you more!
I have been a TECHWR-L member for exactly one year now, and this is
the second time I have had to defend my major. In fact, I am not even
finished with college. With respect to Dan, do not pretend to know what the
enormous number of English literature majors are thinking about their career
options or decisions. You should be excited and flattered that so many
people from so many different focuses want to learn and practice your field.
I, like Jeff Hanvey (see re:working with other writers) thought that
I would only be able to teach with my English degree. However, last summer I
accepted my first internship technical writing for a major not for profit
organization. I am currently now in my second long term internship as a tech
writer, and no one except you seems to think that I can not provide the same
level of documentation as an engineer. I think that the main problem, and
something I have sadly noticed on the list, is that SOME NOT ALL technical
writers appear territorial and reluctant to share their incredible
knowledge. Perhaps it is a false sense of job security, or maybe just
something else... Regardless, technical writers are teachers. They teach
software, policy, procedures and numerous other things everyday to
tens/hundreds/thousands of people. Whether you are an engineer, marketer, or
technical writer, every one profits from the knowledge that you share. Focus
less on how others spent their under graduate years and more on how you can
provide them with your own educated instruction.
None the less, English majors can and do make wonderful technical
writers if they are fortunate enough to be given a chance to perform and
exercise their the talent for writing acquired through out their four
competitive years at college. Most English Literature majors write non
fiction that explains step by step why and how they drew the conclusions
they did. It is good practice for tech writing.
Technical writing has less to do with the writer's knowledge of
engineering and more to do with the ability to grasp mass quantities of
complex information and present it to the user in a sensible and direct
manner. Though previous knowledge in the field you are documenting is
valuable, it is not always necessary. An English, communications or
engineering BA/BS does not have to determine what you must do with your
career; your specific talents do.