RE: Anonymous: Burnout, advancement and career changing

Subject: RE: Anonymous: Burnout, advancement and career changing
From: "Jenny Neill" <jenny -at- wolffireworks -dot- com>
To: <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Thu, 19 Jan 2012 13:22:48 -0800

Hi, Anon,

First off, congratulations on earning a new degree, and on recognizing that
you are experiencing burnout and that it's time for a change.

"I am interested in hearing from people who made a career change, but might
still be on this list."
I first found this list over ten years' ago. At the time, I was moving from
non-profit work to the corporate sector. I was figuring out that my mix of
analytical and editorial skills made me a good fit for technical
communications. Lurking on this list then helped me identify resources from
which I could learn and understand better the market for technical writing
contractors. I recently rejoined because, though I've continued to work on
technical writing projects throughout the past decade, I could use some new
challenges in this field.

"How did you identify your new field, how did you market yourself?"
In some ways, it found me. I discovered a passion for wine at about the same
time I launched myself as a freelance technical communicator. Each time I've
made a career shift, I've applied many of the same practices to find my way
in it: I took classes, earned credentials (in this case certifications from
two trade organizations), and spent time "interning" with more experienced
mentors. These activities enabled me to develop a professional network in
the wine trade. My principle marketing tools as a sommelier are my network
and my resume.

"Why did you come back?"
Though I did put my technical communications work on the back burner for a
couple of years, I wouldn't say I left it completely at any point along the
way. Currently, I balance a part-time job as Assistant Sommelier in a
restaurant and some wine consulting with continuing to do technical writing
contracts. I still occasionally experience a bit of burnout, in both

But why do I do that? Work in two careers at once? Being able to emphasize
one when the other has worn me down has allowed me to continue working in
both far longer than I imagined I could. Also, I am a seeker. I like to
learn new subjects and to work with information domains that continue to
evolve. Both fields, technical communications and selling wine, share those

I'd also add, though you didn't ask about this explicitly, that working in a
completely different sort of team environment is very fulfilling. There's an
immediacy to getting feedback from the "end user" in this line of work that
most technical writing projects lack. My technical writing projects can span
several weeks or months and be fraught with change along the way. It may be
weeks or months before I find out whether the deliverable really addressed
the needs of the intended audience.

Restaurant and event work tends to involve much shorter durations and a much
more social style of interaction with the "client." I suppose I'd have to
also admit that it's fun being the SME.

Why did you choose a digital media degree? What sort of career do you hope
to pursue having earned it? What do you expect to be different about your
new career?

Best wishes,
-jenny neill
T: @jennyneill


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