What's the learning curve for DITA/SGML? Was: Job offers - need your opinion?

Subject: What's the learning curve for DITA/SGML? Was: Job offers - need your opinion?
From: "V. David" <apv -dot- david -at- gmail -dot- com>
To: "Techwriter List" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Sun, 16 Sep 2007 12:59:48 -0400

Thank you for all your replies - I knew techwr-l would come through!
I've read all of you for the past couple years and as always, am very
impressed by the thoughtfulness of the replies.
I've made up a list (as Arroxane suggested), and for the practical-minded,
it does skew towards Job 2.
Reading Geoff Hart's piece though, makes me really, really brave and gives
me the courage to say yes to Job 1.
(If Job 2 was for a technology company comparable to Brian Gause's, I'd pick
Job 2 too!)
What's also very encouraging is 'Neither job seems likely to narrow your
future options, so that's not a serious concern'.

About the recruiter - she has stated that she is paid by salary. Is this
possible? I really thought they all get paid by commission.

Brian is right on total compensation - Job 2 does offer more, as well as job
stability. But as Arroxane pointed out, take Job 1 if stability is not a
priority (yet). (Married, no kids, can afford one more year before starting
a family). And yes, I will make sure I don't mess up my taxes. The recruiter
has suggested I incorporate - the tax rates look very appealing, compared to
filing as a sole proprietor/contractor. (Any thoughts on this, btw?)

I'm devouring everything I can find about writing in DITA and most of the
information is conceptual and quite high level. I've searched and read the
archives and visited the suggested websites.
Anyone willing to share first-hand info on how they went through the
learning process?

Thank you very much for all the help - I am most grateful!
V. David

On 9/14/07, Geoff Hart < ghart -at- videotron -dot- ca> wrote:
> V. David wondered: <<I need your help deciding on two job offers.>>
> Both jobs sound attractive, so what it comes down to is what you want
> to do now, what you want to be doing in the future, and how the job
> you choose connects those two dots. The job you want _now_ is one
> that will compensate you fairly, but more importantly, one that will
> be interesting to you now and that will not close any doors for the
> future. (A couple times in my career, I've taken a pay cut to pursue
> work that ended up being far more interesting and in the end, far
> more lucrative. Haven't regretted it for a moment.)
> That being the case, let's look at the two jobs:
> <<Job 1: global tech serivces co, working with DITA and SGML writing
> about SOA enterprise e-commerce applications, will be working with
> remote teams in India & China. This is a contract for a year, and I
> will be incorporating. There is a possibility of an extension, but
> not likely to become a permanent position.>>
> The key words here are "global", DITA, and SGML: all three are hot
> topics, and the two latter both provide an easy bridge to XML, which
> is also increasingly important. This means that you'll have serious
> resume credibility at the end of the contract, so even if it isn't
> renewed, you'll be a hot commodity and have an easier time finding
> work. Don't let the word "contract" scare you off; contracts
> sometimes turn into long-term work, and a growing company that likes
> your work will often keep coming back for more. Much easier for them
> than taking a risk on someone new.
> In addition, my experiences with colleagues in China and India have
> all been very pleasant and a real learning experience. Both are
> rising global powers, and your contacts in both countries will stand
> you in good stead in the future if you spend some time learning about
> the local cultures and making friends, not just sources of money.
> Personal relationships are very important in both countries, and once
> you're part of the network, many doors open. And increasingly many
> Western companies want to work in or with India and China, so your
> experience there will also open many doors.
> <<Job 2: global financial co, using Madcap Flare, Framemaker, Adobe
> CS3, writing about web-based apps in .NET, will convert to SOA in the
> future, SMEs will be across the room. The position is full-time
> permanent, with the usual benefits - stock discount, pension, tuition
> reimbursement, medical and dental.>>
> Financial work makes my eyes glaze over, particularly because the
> companies are often atherosclerotic dinosaurs with paralyzing
> bureaucracies. But not all are, and if you got a good feel for the
> workplace culture and didn't run screaming, it's a great place to
> start: all the software you cite is popular nowadays, and looks good
> on a resume. The tuition reimbursement is a particularly nice benefit
> because it means that you should be able to choose a future path that
> lets you explore your own interests in a way that will also benefit
> your current employer, but give you skills you can take with you when
> you leave.
> Never forget that there's no such thing as a "permanent" position
> these days (if there ever was), and this means you'll always be free
> to go elsewhere when you've run out of challenges at the current
> workplace. But if you like the environment and perform well, the
> career path can be significant; a politically astute techwhirler
> who's willing to learn how business works can migrate slowly up the
> organization chart into management roles, or enjoy comfortable
> obscurity at the bottom, depending on your tastes.
> You noted that compensation is similar, so that's not an issue. If
> none of the above criteria convince you one way or the other, follow
> your heart: pick the job you feel you'll be most passionate about
> RIGHT NOW. Who knows what you'll want to be doing in the future? So
> pick something that satisfies you now. Neither job seems likely to
> narrow your future options, so that's not a serious concern.
> ----------------------------------------------------
> -- Geoff Hart
> ghart -at- videotron -dot- ca / geoffhart -at- mac -dot- com
> www.geoff-hart.com
> --------------------------------------------------
> ***Now available*** _Effective onscreen editing_
> ( http://www.geoff-hart.com/home/onscreen-book.htm )

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