Re: do I break into tech writing?

Subject: Re: do I break into tech writing?
From: Tom Murrell <trmurrell -at- yahoo -dot- com>
To: Randy Smith <randysmith101 -at- hotmail -dot- com>, TECHWR-L <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Mon, 9 Oct 2000 10:37:44 -0700 (PDT)

--- Randy Smith <randysmith101 -at- hotmail -dot- com> wrote:
> No paid experience at it, but I would like to get into software
> documentation of some sort. I am graduating with a BS in Computer
> Science in May; it'll be my 2nd degree--I already have a BA in
> English.
> I have been working at this CS degree parttime on and off for a few
> years. My grades are great.
> When I started out on this degree, I figured I would do programming,
> and maybe I can get a job doing such, but the more I read about the
> career prospects in that area, especially since I am now over 40,
> and with the massive influx of foreign programmers....
> But one thing I have that they can never match is verbal
> ability...with the *English* language, anyway!
> I currently proofread documents for a law firm, and I was an English
> teacher before that; before that I worked with industrial
> electronic/mechanical controls.
> What I would really like to do is go to Silicon Valley for a few
> years and make a ton of money.
> Any hints, clues, etc.?

Nothing succeeds like a good attitude. I would expect someone with your
background and skills to move to the top of the list for most
entry-level jobs. That gets you your foot in the door, and from there
it's up to you.

John Posada already gave you some good advice about the money. I can't
see much to add to that, but I was struck by your comment about
"foreign programmers" and your belief that you have superior English
skills to them. You may indeed have a better understanding of English,
but your relationship with your Subject Matter Experts, regardless of
their native language, will be predicated on your ability to work with
them and to get along with them, rather than your opinion of your
language skills relative to theirs.

Frankly, entry level technical writers are easier to find that good
coding talent. Otherwise, we would not be importing so many foreigners
to write code. I wouldn't look down on them just because they're not as
proficient in their second (or third?) language as you are in your
native tongue.

Besides, if you are a good code pusher, you can get plenty of work
regardless of your nationality. Even native born Americans can get work
in software.

Best of Luck!

Tom Murrell
Senior Technical Writer
Alliance Data Systems
Columbus, Ohio
mailto:trmurrell -at- yahoo -dot- com

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