Re: Beginning as a Tech Writer in Telecommunications

Subject: Re: Beginning as a Tech Writer in Telecommunications
From: Tom Murrell <trmurrell -at- yahoo -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Tue, 16 Jan 2001 18:21:27 -0800 (PST)

--- "Peter Shea (USF)" <pshea2 -at- luna -dot- cas -dot- usf -dot- edu> wrote:
> A friend of mine has been interviewed by a big
> telecommunications company for a potential tech writing job.
> While he has writing, HTML, and RoboHelp skills, he has never
> worked the telecommunications industry and is feeling
> uncertain.
> He has another interview with this company in a few weeks. Is
> there any advice that anyone can offer? Any texts or introductions
> to telecommunications that my friend could peruse to shore up
> his understanding of the industry and the technology he would
> be expected to write about?

I don't know if my experience will help, but about seven years ago I
took a job on contract to the biggest--at the time--telecommunications
company. I could barely spell telephone when I started. So I didn't
pretend that I knew things I didn't know. I sold myself for the job
based on my belief that they needed someone who could learn quickly and
then communicate what he had learned to those who needed that
information. I had five weeks to get a document into some kind of
shape, deliver it to a cantankerous client, and then go explain it to
them in what they called a training class.

Well in five weeks I was a lot smarter than I had been, and I turned
out a creditable draft of a document, but I was hardly an expert. But I
got a lot of support from my development team. They were patient
answering my questions. (I even got them to explain the magic cloud
into which telephone signals go and out of which they come. Can't say I
understood all of it, but I did learn that there is powerful magic

I guess what I would tell your friend is that he should think of
himself as an accomplished communicator (or writer or TW or whatever he
sees himself as), that he has what it takes to do the communications
job and is smart enough to learn what he doesn't know. (Knowing we're
ignorant "should" keep us a bit humble. Doesn't seem to, but it should.
<g>) By all means read the books being recommended, but don't try to
pass yourself off as smarter about telecommunications than you are. If
you're any good, you'll learn it and write credible documents on your
assigned topics.

Tom Murrell
Lead Technical Writer
Alliance Data Systems
Columbus, Ohio
mailto:trmurrell -at- yahoo -dot- com
Personal Web Page -

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