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Subject:Re: So...how do I break into tech writing? From:Marilyn_Baldwin -at- capgroup -dot- com To:TECHWR-L -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com Date:Mon, 9 Oct 2000 19:51:01 -0700
Randy Smith, who has a BA in English and is getting a BS in Computer
> No paid experience at it, but I would like to get into software docu-
> mentation of some sort...[[SNIP]] 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!
> [[SNIP]] 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.?
Well, Randy, condescension and greed have probably worked for some
people, but I don't personally know any of them and hope it stays that
"Great grades" in acedemia don't mean nearly as much as a year or two
of experience out in the real world, no matter what one's age. It can
be both humbling and instructive to realize that classroom superiority
doesn't always translate into business success.
Whether in the Silicon Valley or elsewhere, some of your peers, SMEs,
and, yes (gasp!), even supervisors and managers, will almost certainly
be "foreigners" whose first language isn't English, but whose skills and
knowledge are crackerjack (or not).
A love of what one does, an attitude that conveys willingness to learn
from others as well as to share one's knowledge with them, the initiative
to learn the tools of the trade, as well as the industry - these are
qualities that have nothing to do with age and everything to do with how
well you might do, whether you pursue programming or tech writing.
I wish you good luck, but would caution you that some major attitude
changes are needed if you decide to come to California - anywhere here,
not just Silicon Valley. If ANY of the feelings you conveyed leaked
through in an interview, I think most companies would wisely pass on
hiring you, despite your grades and cleverness.