Re: informational interview questions

Subject: Re: informational interview questions
From: Barry Kieffer <bkieffer -at- ims -dot- com>
To: techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com, BLUEALLAH -at- aol -dot- com
Date: Thu, 31 Aug 2000 09:07:32 -0700 (PDT)

> Erica asks: <Snip>
> In a few weeks, I'll be heading to San Francisco for a visit. Can y'all
>recommend questions I should definitely ask to
> get a good feel of a full-time tech comm job? These companies will all be
> software related. Some things I've come up with so far...
> --What sorts of tools do you use most often? </Snip>

Greetings Erica,

Think of it as looking to join a family. As a full-time technical writer (not a
contractor) the people you will be working with are more important than the
tools you will use.

Ask questions about company and departmental culture. Sure, the developers work
60 hours a week (even though most leave at 2:00 to go to the health spa, go bike
riding, or jogging only to return 3 hours later) but that does not mean that the
TW's have to work the same hours (unless you go jogging with them). This is an
example of company couture versus departmental culture.

Always ask for a tour, and think of how you would fit in. A friend of mine
interviewed at a company and was told the company couture was "fun loving". As
she was led around the company on a tour, she could not help but notice that it
was very quiet, too quiet for an outgoing person like her. Every cube was
occupied, and everyone was quietly hard at work. The goods the recruiter was
selling her did not match her observations.

Try (or ask) to meet as many tech comm people in that department as you can. How
they act, what they say, are good indications of the people you will be working
with. As you meet them try to ask yourself, is this a person I would like to
share a cube with? (I am not saying you are going to share a cube, but if you
had to be that close, would that person drive you nuts?)

The reason I state the above is that I used to work with a TW that was the
female version of me. When we were looking for another TW to join us, we knew
that a timid person would be intimidated by our (combined) self confidence and
(somewhat loud) extravertedness.

You will want to make sure you are a fit, as well as the people you join a fit
for you. Don't think you can "get along" with everybody. I used to work with a
group of timid scardy cat, sheep like TW's, and they drove me nuts.

Good luck on your search! I hope you find what you are looking for. If you don't
find it, or you want a more laid back working environment then the Silicone
Valley, please have a look at the Portland area. There are plenty of good well
paying jobs for TW's, in Portland, way more parking and better mass transit, 10
minute average commutes, 2000 sq. ft. houses under $200,000, less mayonnaise and
been sprouts, better coffee, better micro-brews, and more rain!


Barry Kieffer
Senior Technical Writer
Integrated Measurement Systems, Inc.
Beaverton, Oregon
Phone: (503) 469-3615
Email: bkieffer -at- ims -dot- com

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