What does one do with a tech writing Intern?

Subject: What does one do with a tech writing Intern?
From: Geoff Hart <ghart -at- videotron -dot- ca>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Sat, 19 Jun 2004 09:05:29 -0400

Linda Castellani wondered: <<We have been interviewing candidates for an internship, and we are considering what tasks an intern might perform.>>

Well, according to Scott Adams, cleaning the Jeffreys tubes, mocking the pointy-haired boss, and sitting in a high-traffic cubicle are all valid options. <g> A tad more seriously:

Let's start by defining terms. To me, an intern comes in for a short term, much like a contractor. The internship is intended as both a learning experience for the intern and as a way for you folks to get valuable work done. Plus, you get to evaluate the intern's potential for full-time employment once the internship is over. If you've found someone with potential and let them do useful work so that they learn how you work, you may be able to hire them without ever holding a competition.

<<So far we have: * update the index * create new indexes * create cross-document indexes * help create the terminology database for localization * write knowledge base articles>>

All useful tasks, but what about documentation, whether online or printed? On the face of it, it sounds to me like you're training this person to do jobs the rest of you might not enjoy doing or have no time to do, since these tasks don't address the core documentation: the procedures and reference material. It's all useful and perhaps even essential, but not part of the core product docs.

There's nothing wrong with this approach if these jobs need to get done and someone (you?) will be ensuring that the jobs get done right, but if you're also using the internship as a way to evaluate whether the person could be hired full-time and training them for that possibility, then omitting work on the core docs won't help you reach this goal.

--Geoff Hart ghart -at- videotron -dot- ca
(try geoffhart -at- mac -dot- com if you don't get a reply)


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What Does One Do With A Tech Writing Intern: From: Linda Castellani

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