RE: Experience/No experience

Subject: RE: Experience/No experience
From: "David Berg" <dberg -at- dmpnet -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Mon, 26 Mar 2001 16:25:41 -0600

> -----Original Message-----
> From: Christine -dot- Anameier -at- seagate -dot- com

> Another _possible_
> option, if you can find it, is to sell yourself cheap, if someone will
> take you on."
> I would be wary of that approach. If anything, I would guess that the
> agencies feel funny about hiring an energetic, project-manager-ish
> 30-plus-year-old-man to type other people's memos for eleven
> bucks an hour.

I agree, Christine. I wasn't clear enough, but I wasn't suggesting that he
play the role of secretary, although I indicated as much by answering his
question about word processing and data entry without comment. I suppose I
answered in a bit too much of a hurry. IMHO, you'd be better off spending
time in journalism or web design than secretarial work if you plan on making
a segue into tech writing at a later time.

I would suggest that he keep an eye out for any starving start-ups that
simply can't afford real talent (the "jump-in-the-deep-end approach), or any
other outfit that might make use of him in an intern-like role. Are there
any colleges around there where he might sneak into their co-op or career
office and snoop around for openings? Or, perhaps try hooking up with the
local STC and make some contacts in the industry.

> I did temp work in my starving-student days and mostly saw two types of
> temps: (1) women who aspired to secretarial careers; (2) twentysomething
> students temping for rent money until they managed to land jobs in their
> real fields. Hate to perpetuate a stereotype, but I think that's what temp
> clerical agencies are used to seeing. I wonder if they'd trust someone
> outside of those categories, especially someone with obvious leadership
> qualities, to fit smoothly into a low-level temp-worker role.

Right again, but lately I've seem most temp agencies around here also act as
placement agencies for some full-time office jobs. Also, small recruitment
agencies (the good ones) that will take you on will go out and actively
market your resume. I've come across a couple that don't charge the
applicant a fee, and I wouldn't consider one that would charge me. Through
these small agencies I've seen openings at small magazines and newspapers.

I still strongly recommend some pro bono work to build a starter portfolio.
If you don't know where to start, contact someplace like your local United
way and ask who would want some help with web design, press releases,
brochures, etc. Call the public relations person for the public school
district and offer your services (for the right kind of project, anyway).

Good luck. I'm sure that some folks on the list will disagree about my
suggestions for types of work, but I wanted to clear the record that I don't
generally consider secretarial work a valid path into tech writing, even if
some folks have successfully made the transition.

David Berg


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