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Date: Thu, 22 Sep 2011 08:18:01 -0700
From: Tony Chung <tonyc -at- tonychung -dot- ca>
To: TECHWR-L <techwr-l -at- techwr-l -dot- com>
Subject: Re: second acts for technical writers?
<CAPnOPiExo+PbOy7PsE2ufSbiOrp5O_qnppQehafP+hMMEFyM3g -at- mail -dot- gmail -dot- com>
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On Thursday, September 22, 2011, Becky Edmondson <beckyed3 -at- gmail -dot- com> wrote:
> I am ready to move on, after many years in writing and editing, and
> interested in hearing others' thoughts on second careers for technical
> writers in the corporate world or elsewhere.
Why don't you walk yourself through a process if self discovery? List the
parts of your tech writing role you like and dislike, your personal and
professional goals, your non-essentials... Pretend you are writing a
technical manual for how a user should use you.
I always recommend the book What Color is Your Parachute? by Richard Nelson
Bolles. I think in the last 20 years I must have read 5 editions. The book
is updated annually.
End of TECHWR-L Digest, Vol 71, Issue 22
Becky, I'm going to agree with Tony on the Parachute book. It's one of the best books I have ever read on career/job hunting and placement. In fact it was recommended to me by a friend who was a career counselor at a local college when I was searching for my current gig a few years ago. I never would have considered the contract-to-hire route if she hadn't mentioned it.
In addition, I'll recommend maybe jump-starting the creative search process by going back to school if that's an option (if time and money permit). Life recently handed me an enforced "time out" and I was on disability leave from work for about eight months while being treated for a potentially fatal illness. All is well now and I'm in complete remission, praise God, but one of the thoughts that kept running through my mind while I was sidelined was "am I really as fulfilled in my work life as I could be, and what would make me more fulfilled if the answer is no?"
I have a number of interests that have developed over the last few years, and most of those tend to be things that are covered in the course work for an MBA--so this fall when I came back to work I also started taking classes, and as I work through those different courses I'm confident I'll find something that really appeals to me and go for an advanced degree and career shift in that direction. I'm not sure if that will be along the lines of economics, accounting, marketing, management, or entrepreneurship.
But in the mean time, it's great being a student again: having my mind stimulated and challenged by academic coursework and great professors, learning with and from a bunch of energetic and enthusiastic college-age students, and feeling the buzz build on campus through the week as each college football Saturday approaches.
Whatever you choose to do--have some fun with it. Life is too short and too uncertain to go through doing something just because you have a knack for it. Do it because it's fun and it makes you feel good--whether that's the satisfaction that comes from helping someone who can't help themselves or the rush that comes from knowing which way the markets are about to turn and jumping there before everyone else on Wall Street or in Washington figures it out.
Whatever you choose, good luck to you!
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