Re: Student Interviews

Subject: Re: Student Interviews
From: Gregory P Sweet <gps03 -at- health -dot- state -dot- ny -dot- us>
To: Lonie McMichael <loniemc -at- gmail -dot- com>
Date: Tue, 17 Apr 2012 11:37:08 -0400

> 1) What type of writer are you? What type of work do you do?

Officially my title is Learning Management Training Specialist. I develop
training and write documentation for a secure extranet of bespoke CBRNE
preparedness and response, and other public health related software. What
type of work do I do? Well, to name just a few things I:
â Handle the ISD & delivery of elearning & live classes
â Manage all multimedia production and deployment on the extranet
â Create all user facing materials (help systems, print, and electronic
â Develop use cases & technical specifications for new and revised products
â Maintain the master style sheets for the extranet
â Design and review the user interface and experience for the portal and
individual software products
â Conduct usability testing

> 2) How did you enter your field?
Ass-backwards and completely by accident. Having degrees in both
photography and journalism (and not receiving any radioactive-spider bites
to supplement my superpowers) and getting only one poor offer to move to
Pittsburgh for a non-shooting post, I found more money installing fences
and working a steel yard during the days and working the receiving desk in
a hospital lab in the evenings. Along the way I held minor jobs, like a
layout and comp job with the the local penny-saver that lead nowhere. The
hospital job quickly led to a job supervising phlebotomists and processing
reference testing, where the utter lack of codified procedures nearly drove
me mad. It did, however, lead to my first foray into tech writing
documenting the procedures for processing the reference tests. That work
led to an honest tech writing position with a local HMO where the majority
of my time was spent documenting a new data warehouse. As part of
documenting the data warehouse, management decided they wanted e-learning,
which set me down the path to learning instructional design and in doing so
I learned that my real passion is training -- It's just as fun as tech
writing but I am actually expected to talk with the users! Being
unexpectedly dismissed from the HMO for budgetary reasons, I took up my
card with the International Brotherhood of Elevator Constructors again (did
I mention I followed in Dad's footsteps and built elevators during my
college summers?) and determined to make a real go of it, since you cannot
offshore an elevator. But just six month in I stumbled across my current
job and it was one of those moments when reading the job description felt
like reading your resume -- just absolutely too perfectly you to pass up.
So I applied, got it, and seven years & one promotion later, here I am.
Interesting side note: I used a T-letter to land this job.

> 3) For students looking to enter the field, what kind of classes
> you suggest they take? What kind of knowledge would you suggest they
> pursue? What should they know?

A broad liberal arts curriculum has served me well. I apply almost all of
my education to my current work. I'm a very competent font-fiddler based on
my design & layout courses, a mostly competent writer thanks to my
journalism profs, and I truly feel my background in photography translates
well to designing pleasing and usable interfaces. But, is there a course of
study I could recommend to take someone from unschooled to where I've ended
up? Not a chance. One could specialize and earn advanced degrees in anyone
of the parts of my job. My degrees got my foot in the door, everything else
I've learned since. When I earned my degrees 15 years ago, our advisor told
us straight out, most of us wouldn't work in our chosen field. Very few
would get spots as reporters and even fewer would keep them. We should
expect to have about eight careers over the course of our professional
lives. I am currently at five and holding. Nothing I did in school would
have indicated to me that training was where I would find my niche. What
should they know? They should know you will always keep learning. What you
planning is mostly likely not going to happen, but if you are flexible
something much, much better just might.

> 4) Do you have any suggestions for how to get a job in your field?
Do not specialize in school. Unless of course you are sure of your
prospects, in which case you don't need my advice.

> 5) If a student would like more detail, are you comfortable being
> contacted directly?


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Student Interviews: From: Lonie McMichael

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