FW: a college degree

Subject: FW: a college degree
From: "Timothy Trese" <Timothy -dot- G -dot- Trese -at- SAICSeals -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Fri, 28 Dec 2001 17:41:03 -0500


I graduated December 15th. My major in English (Tech Writing
concentration) didn't teach me a lot about writing, because I already
had a lot of experience with that, but I did pick up some good info on
peripheral skills, like visual document design. My minor in Applied
Computer Science exposed me to way more practical knowledge.

I also learned, from watching my fellow students progress, that an
individual just out of high school who gets a BA in tech writing is
still woefully underprepared for industry. It's amazing to me just how
much they DON'T teach you, because they spend a lot of time hashing,
re-hashing, and re-re-hashing the basics. If I ever interview candidates
for a technical writer position, I'll look for a solid, relevant
portfolio way before I even notice the sheepskin. Ironically, the
portfolio piece that helped land me my current job was something I wrote
before I ever thought about going back to school.

BUT, and this is probably the kicker, the degree by itself opens a lot
of otherwise-locked doors and gives you some leverage at the
salary-negotiating table. That was my experience, anyway.

In sum: If I had it to do over again, I'd probably major in a technical
discipline and minor in tech writing, instead of the other way around.
That would give me exposure to the core concepts that they teach in the
Tech Writing program, and a starter portfolio that's relevant in a
target industry.

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