Building experience--quit after six months or tough it out?

Subject: Building experience--quit after six months or tough it out?
From: Joe Pairman <joepairman -at- yahoo -dot- co -dot- uk>
To: techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
Date: Mon, 28 Apr 2008 07:46:55 +0000 (GMT)

I'm a new tech writer, working in Taiwan. I'm trying to build experience that will help me get a decent tech writing job in the UK or the USA in the future.

I got my first job in this field six months ago. It's working with a translation company that also offers tech writing services to Taiwanese OEM/ODMs, who themselves supply big brand name companies. Most of what I've done for this time has been manuals for a major cellphone brand. It's been really good experience. I've learned their house writing style from the style guide and through detailed feedback from their editors. And I've got used to structured authoring in FM6+SGML with the client's custom tools.

However, it's an extremely tough job--much tougher than it needs to be. For a start, the structured authoring tools are outdated and we're not able to use them as they're supposed to be used. A lot of stuff that should be automated has to be done by hand. In addition, there's mismanagement and poor communication by both the Taiwanese OEM and the agency I work for. This means that each week I put in 150-200% of the hours I'm paid for. And it's quite stressful as I'm never able to plan my time ahead, due to constant changes and requests from the customer, and little backup from our own company.

So I'm really tempted to quit and look for a job in a tech company, not an agency. I should be able to find something within a few months, and I'd like
to use the spare time to improve my "techie" skills. But the next job I find might not involve writing manuals for such a big name, and I may not be able to get such a high level of editorial feedback. I'm concerned that my six months' experience writing the cellphone manuals may not count for much when it comes to applying for a job in the west in a few years.

What do people think? Should I tough it out at the agency for a few more months at least, or would quitting and finding something else be as good experience in the long term? Thanks in advance for any advice.



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