RE: Employment Advice needed!

Subject: RE: Employment Advice needed!
From: Beth Agnew <Beth -dot- Agnew -at- senecac -dot- on -dot- ca>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Fri, 05 Nov 2004 19:18:22 -0500

First, congratulations on the monumental achievement of getting your
Master's!! As you say, over the years you have acquired many skills and
because of your years, you also have maturity and a work ethic that is hard
to find in the young.

A lot of techcomm work is web related. My suggestion would be to look for a
job writing web content. Your website work demonstrates your abilities and
knowledge of web development; adding content is a natural progression.

Unless you are fixated on having a 9-5 office job, perhaps you would do
better and have more control over your life working as a contractor, or
self-employed freelance technical communicator. Clients will often overlook
a lack of lengthy experience if you have the qualifications (which you do)
and some projects that have been successfully completed that you can point
to. As long as you do the job, the clients don't much care whether you've
been at it for 10 days or 10 years.

I often have career-changers among my students, and to these older
individuals I recommend that they NOT look for an entry level job. As you
say, it's a bit absurd to expect someone of middle age to do a junior job.
That's where assessment of your acquired skills and abilities comes in. If
you know what you are offering an employer beyond basic techwriting at the
entry level -- people skills come to mind -- then you can probably enter the
profession at an intermediate level, or work for a company that perhaps has
never had a techwriter before and therefore has no particular expectations
other than that you'll do a good job, which of course you will.

I strongly believe that nothing is ever wasted if we look at it correctly.
Your years of medical problems have given you experience negotiating the
health care/rehab system. They use techwriters, don't they? (You don't
always need a medical background if you're writing for a non-technical

And since you're a baby boomer, what about looking for a company that
specializes in devices for aging (okay, you're not there yet!!) clients? So,
manufacturers of, say, those mobility scooters for people who can't walk, or
prosthetics, or other medical devices that you may have come across? Because
your contemporaries are the user base for such devices, you already KNOW the

Another avenue is reviewing and writing about technical (maybe with a
medical/rehab/baby-boomer slant) products or processes for newspapers and

The whole area of adaptive/assistive technologies needs techwriters. You
would probably have an empathy for the users of these devices.

I think there are lots of possibilities for you, Kirk. Including teaching
techcomm at a college. Many teachers of technical communication have never
actually worked as techwriters.

So the problem has many solutions, depending on your interest and desire.
See, we CAN solve anything!

All the best, and if you want to explore anything further or get more info,
feel free to contact me any time.

(formerly a member of the Canadian navy 1971-1980)

Beth Agnew
Professor, Technical Communication
Seneca College of Applied Arts and Technology
416-491-5050 x3133



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