Re: Experience/No experience

Subject: Re: Experience/No experience
From: "John Fleming" <johnf -at- ecn -dot- ab -dot- ca>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 28 Mar 2001 05:56:44 -0700

> Subject: Re: Experience/No experience
> From: "Matthew Danda" <mattspam -at- dandaweb -dot- com>
> Date: Tue, 27 Mar 2001 11:27:26 -0500
> X-Message-Number: 25

> Colin:

> Forget about office and clerical experience, focus on the
"Technical" part
> of "Technical Writer"!

> Tell your brother to market himself as an aspiring technie. Although
> not one now, he should behave as if he really wants to become one.
> take classes, start studing for certifications (like A++), and show
> interest in the technical side. This will open many doors for
beginning tech
> writers.

I think there is a certain validity to that.

Right now, I'm working on a contract, and the more I think about it,
the more I come to the conclusion that one of the things that may have
influenced them to pick me over other writers is my technical
background. You see, at one time I worked for one of their client
companies, not as a tech writer, but as an engineer.

And to top it off, they're happy enough with my writing that one month
into the contract, they gave me a nice little pay hike (on top of the
one I got when I originally signed on the dotted line).

> I got my first TW job without any experience (as a techie or as a
> because I told them that I was genuinely interested in becoming a
> programmer, and my goal was to write manuals now in order to learn
> software and eventually how to program. This approach almost
> employment, as many managers (especially in small companies) are
amazed that
> anyone would *want* to endure the pain of writing a manual and, more
> importantly, are far more comfortable dealing with starving techies
> with starving artists.

My first steps into the technical writing field came, not as an actual
technical writing position, but as small writing jobs for positions
doing something else. Like writing a short tutorial on using our
fault monitoring software and the user guide to a database application
I did some programming work on.

In fact, work where I am hired primarily as a writer, rather than as
something else, is a comparatively recent development in my career.
Prior to that, everything was technical.

> At least, this approach worked very well for me during the early
part of my
> career. Of course, 7 years later, I'm starting to admit to myself
> perhaps I am more interested in the "Writer" part of "Technical
Writer". But
> at least I've never had to work as a "data entry clerk" or "word


I think I could see the first glimmerings of tech writing back in
engineering school. Looking back, writing that term paper on exotic
energy sources like geothermal power was more fun than circuit


John Fleming
Technical Writer
Edmonton, Alberta
email: johnf -at- ecn -dot- ab -dot- ca


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