Re: New tech writer employment tips?

Subject: Re: New tech writer employment tips?
From: "Lisa Bronson" <Lisa -dot- Bronson -at- ipaper -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 2 May 2001 08:31:25 -0500

I would be interested to hear people's stories about how they got into the
field and any resources that might pertain to Junior Tech Writers. Any and
all tips, ideas, and suggestions are welcome!

Well.... I was fortunate... I stumbled into my first tech writing job. :-)

I went to an engineering intern search meeting with a large consulting
company (Andersen Consulting, though they've since changed their name).
During a question and answer period, I asked if they hired tech writing
interns. The answer was that while they do hire technical writers, they do
not hire them as interns.

I was about to leave, when one of the soon-to-be-graduating engineers
tapped me on the shoulder. "You're a technical writer?" he asked. "We
*need* a technical writer. Call this guy tomorrow!" He gave me a business
card, I called, and got the internship. Later, it turned into a full time
position. A year after that (and 3 years ago now), I picked up a contract
job and moved from Minnesota to Iowa, and then a few months later, moved
into my current, permanent position.

I want to mention that two of these companies were manufacturing facilities
and one was a telecom; each time, I have worked in engineering departments,
where my background in physics, engineering, and CAD really paid off. I
know in at least one of my interviews, the fact I knew AutoCAD was *the*
deciding factor in my getting the job, and it at least contributed in the
others. If you are looking to write for software, the desired skill sets
would be different. In that case, a C++ class or Java or the like would be
more beneficial.

While you can truly say my work history has had a lot of luck in it, I
believe that you can help yourself *find* luck by putting yourself in
certain positions. Go to places where you might meet someone needing a
technical writer (like the internship meeting for *engineers* that I went
to). Let people know that you are a technical writer (not that you want to
be, but that you *are*). Take as many classes as you can in various
aspects of the field. I never thought my 100-level computer aided drafting
course would take me so far!

Good luck!

Lisa Bronson
Associate Technical Writer
Evergreen Packaging Equipment
Cedar Rapids, Iowa


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