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I started as a "newbie" (hate that word) techwriter four months ago. A recruiter called out-of-the-blue and offered me this contract position, based on my monster.com resume' that included having written a local column and some Access programming. Go figure. They were desperate, and we both happened to really luck out; I love technical writing more than any job I've ever had, and I'm good at it.
Getting to my point, my first job is at a university where contractors abound (sucking up overtime like crazy), projects are months or years behind schedule, and extremely few people really understand what they're supposed to be doing. It's all process and paperwork, and almost impossible for most of these fine folks to even "do" a competent job, such is the state of affairs. (I'm hearing that this is common at universities and hospitals.)
ANYway, being so excited to have the title "technical writer," and having zero experience or resources to fall back on, I simply used what I had: common sense and ability. Every day for the first couple of weeks, I was prepared for someone to "find me out," realize I wasn't following any "established technical writing processes," blah, blah, and worked my butt off reading, asking, and learning everything I could about the new system I was to be writing job aids for.
Because I just went ahead and focused on what I could do & learn, instead of being stymied by lack of direction and experience, I've ended up doing a great job. Boss's pet, an SME in my own right, and that incredible high from "feeling the fear and doing it anyway."
I apologize for the ramble. I may be yakking out of the woodwork here, but you people have been my daily mentors, educating me in ways that I put into practice everyday. Of course, I may have just lucked out at my present position, but I want to encourge the newbie, giving one techwriter's happy ending to trusting her noggin in a scary place.
ps: And heck, there's always another job; rack up as much experience as you can, learning as much as possible wherever you're at.