RE: New tech writer employment tips?

Subject: RE: New tech writer employment tips?
From: Michael Davidson <Michael -dot- Davidson -at- vcint -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 2 May 2001 15:59:46 +0200

I got into it through journalism. After finishing my journalism training I
started working as a freelancer. Although I was doing ok I wanted to work
full time on magazine to really get my skills together. Then an advert
appeared that said 'Writer Wanted' and that was that. I got the job in front
of 100 others (makes me feel good to say it!) and set to learning how to
write distance learning materials, procedures manuals and training
materials. This really sharpened my ideas about writing for the user.
My second job was writing CBT scripts and several 'how to use this piece of
software' user guides, marketing and all sorts of internal/external writing.
My third job I was writing Help files, which made me a little bit teccie : )
Now I'm writing about VB and SQL code for a major online organisation, with
occasional user guides and marketing materials. My plan is to get trained up
in VB and then make the leap to developer.
I think that my journalism training/experience helped me enormously in terms
of getting work as people take me seriously and I have a great deal of
experience in actually creating documents through the entire production
lifecycle. I not only write but I edit, design page layouts, fiddle with
graphics, and can produce finished documents in a variety of formats.
Having been a journalist I have a certain amount of get up and go and can
easily take control of things. And having a basic knowledge of VB and SQL
makes me very interesting to potential employers if the feedback I've had
from them and various employment agencies is anything to go by. My main work
tool is Word: so far not knowing Framemaker, RoboHelp etc hasn't hurt my
ability to get employed.
An interesting thing that I've learnt over the years is that many people
think tech writing is boring. It certainly is at times but I get paid well
to do it and it has opened many doors that would have otherwise stayed shut.

The only downside of this is that after spending all day at a PC I don't
really feel like doing an creative writing, which is why I really, really
got into writing in the first place! Anyone interested in a bit of fiction
in the afternoon can peruse my site at:
Hope this helps.
Mick Davidson,
LvS, Gibraltar.


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