Re: Newbies

Subject: Re: Newbies
From: Susan Guttman <sguttman -at- semantix -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Mon, 13 Nov 2000 07:58:20 -0500

on 11/12/00 6:20 PM, Horace Smith at hsmithtx -at- earthlink -dot- net wrote:

> Folks,
> With regard to a recent thread, I find it difficult to believe that anyone
> would hire someone with no experience.

As many others have pointed out, "it depends on what you call experience."

My first job was as a solo writer on a contract. Absolutely no technical
writing experience, but I had writing and editing experience (from a writers
group I ran at one point), layout experience (from a job re-creating
translated manuals), research experience (from being a dramaturge, of all
things), and what you could call process-management experience (from
studying stage management), and graphic design (again from theatre).

I got my second job (lone writer for a large & sophisticated piece of
software) on the strength of the first one; they wanted someone with five
years of experience, and I made the argument to my interviewer that five
years of experience was no guarantee of ability: people work in teams, they
have good editors, they even use other people's work - and we all know at
least one guy whose work is terrible but who somehow manages to carry on in
his field... I showed her my one measly manual and said, well, it might
stink, but it's all mine and you can judge me accurately by it. It worked,
amazingly enough!

Now I work as a team writer (chose this job over another lone-writer gig,
because I felt I should be learning from others at this stage of my career,
not always making it up as I go along :), with a writer who went to
technical writing school, took an intro to programming course, and was a
journalist - and who is hopelessly, hopelessly incompetent. No initiative, a
very slow learner, can't plan, can't pick up the technology, can't adapt to
change (not good in software development!), doesn't think when she writes,
and generally suffers from student syndrome: "I know I'm not doing it right,
but I'm trying really hard!" (Sorry, got carried away - but it's very

The moral of my vent? Experience does not necessarily mean competence, and
inexperience does not necessarily mean incompetence.

Just my Canadian $1 (2 cents American :)

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