Re: Educational areas to pursue

Subject: Re: Educational areas to pursue
From: Andrew Plato <gilliankitty -at- yahoo -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Tue, 25 Feb 2003 10:52:26 -0800 (PST)


"Paul DuBois" wrote...
>
> It doesn't bookend anything, because you're making too many assumptions
> about the object of your ridicule. You don't know that because someone
> doesn't want to become a programmer that they must therefore be a crummy
> writer.

If they are writing about software (or programming) and they refuse to learn
programming, yes, they are a "crummier" writer than the person who embraces
programming education.

Writer A: Won't learn the technology or take any technical education courses,
only wants to learn single-sourcing and usability.

Writer B: Embraces the technical training and picks up some single-sourcing
skills here and there.

Who do you want to hire?

> I'll give you an example. I once worked a project that required that I
> write about Windows. I don't like Windows, but I had to learn stuff about
> it I didn't know in order to complete the project. Did that increase my
> technical competence about Windows? Of course. Did I like learning about
> it? No. The more I know about Windows, the more I *don't* like it.
> But my desire to avoid Windows has nothing to do with my general competence
> as a writer.

Yes it does...it makes you generally less competent to document Windows
technologies and Windows-concepts. You may be strong in other areas, but your
reluctance to learn or use a particular technology limits your employment
opportunities. Maybe that isn't an issue for you, specifically, but for other
folks, it would be. Hence advice that says "only learn what you like" isn't
very good advice, since it could wind up limiting a person to the point where
they can never get a job.

> If you were to come along and say that my reluctance about
> Windows means I must be a font fondler, I would reject your argument.

If you don't like something, that is, of course, your choice. If you choose not
to learn about a technology, that is your choice as well. But those choices
have CONSEQUENCES. And the consequences could be: no job, low paying job, lay
off, termination, lack of respect, etc. They also could mean jobs in other
areas.

Just don't expect employers to bend over and accept YOUR vision of what is
acceptable technology skills and what is not. A LOT of places use Windows. And
although it may enrage you that they do, you're not going to make them throw
away their entire Windows infrastructure, re-engineer their software, and
rebuild their business plans because the technical writer hates Windows. They
will pass you by and hire another writer - one that is eager to learn about
Windows.

Thus, it is incumbent upon you, the job seeker, to make sure you accept jobs
with organizations that embrace the kinds of technologies you prefer. It would
be very unwise to take a job with an employer that used technologies you hate
or refuse to learn. You are likely to just get into fights and may get
fired...and being fired is rarely a good career move.

> > I see this as another one of the "I want my cake, I want to eat it, and I
want
> > you to pay me to eat it too" type arguments. If an employer pays for your
> > education, it is absurd to think they are going to also pay your time to
attend
> > those courses.
>
> I see why you might say that. However, I don't believe I was making
> quite that argument. I thought I was proposing the weird and unusual
> position that an employer does not own my entire life.
>
> You seem to be advancing the argument that it's just fine for an employer
> to demand control over your time, at any time. I'm a bit reluctant to
> agree with that.

Yes. It is fine for an employer - paying you a wage - to make demands on your
time. And it is well within an employer's right to demand that their employees
come up to speed with the latest technologies. And those employees who resist,
probably won't last long.

I find it weird that you would be rejecting an employer's offer of free
education. If your time is so precious that you cannot devote some of it to
continuing education - then how can you call yourself a professional? Virtually
every profession has some kind of continuing education expectation. Some more
formalized than others. Many firms do offer on-the-clock training in specific
technologies. But general education is often done via night schools or
extension programs.

Knowledge is the most valuable compensation you can ever receive. More valuable
than ANY amount of money.

Andrew Plato


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