Re: First days and weeks on the tech writing job

Subject: Re: First days and weeks on the tech writing job
From: Thorsten Konersmann <tk -at- documentation -dot- engineering>
To: Nina Rogers <janina -dot- rogers -at- gmail -dot- com>
Date: Tue, 26 Jun 2018 19:35:09 +0200

Hi Nina,

Since I will get a new colleague in July for what has been a one-man project so far, I am thinking about this myself right now.

Thinking back to my own start in this job, Iâd say there are mainly three aspects of the job that are specific to any company or project:
The tools, specifically any non-standard plugins, customizations, etc.
The companyâs/projectâs writing conventions and standardizations, that is, anything in an internal style guide, the terminology, etc.
The people, internal and external, they will deal with on a regular basis

Regarding 1., the new colleague might already bring previous experience with the tool you use. But they might have to get some training on the specific third-party plugins your company uses. Maybe they know FrameMaker, but havenât worked with DITA in FrameMaker before. Identify the delta.

Regarding 2., ideally the new colleague is so experienced and capable that you just give them your 200-page style guide and they study it on their own. But maybe not all parts of your specific style guide are completely self explanatory. Most style guides donât contain absolutely everything. They should be able to work through some parts on their own. But other parts might be worthwhile to go over together.

I am in the process of creating a mindmap about all of this for my new colleague. Itâs for me to collect everything relevant and for my new colleague as an overview, to work through, and to look up details later on.

Best,
Thorsten


> On 26. Jun 2018, at 18:55, Nina Rogers <janina -dot- rogers -at- gmail -dot- com> wrote:
>
> Hello! We are hiring a technical writer, and my company is working on their
> "onboarding" schedule. (This is the first time they have hired someone in a
> tech-writing capacity. I was hired for another position and morphed my way
> to tech writer.)
>
> I was not included in the planning sessions for onboarding (yes, I'm kind
> of bitter about that) and have been asked to review the onboarding
> schedule, now that it's been written. I have some suggestions to change it
> (oh, do I have suggestions), but I'd like to ask the folks here first: If
> you are a tech writer with a company (i.e., not an independent contractor),
> what were your first few days and weeks on the job like? Did you spend a
> few weeks gaining knowledge of the software (or whatever you were writing
> about) before you were let loose to start writing articles, or did you
> pretty much dive in and learn as you go? How much oversight did you get
> from a manager/supervisor before you stopped needing close oversight?
>
> I'm particularly hearing from people who have hired/onboarded junior
> technical writers. Like I said, I have lots of opinions about how the
> onboarding process should be changed, but I also don't want to offer "just
> my opinion." If any of you (particularly documentation managers) can offer
> some insights to help me see if I'm on (or off) track, I would appreciate
> it.
>
> Thanks in advance!
>
> Nina
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First days and weeks on the tech writing job: From: Nina Rogers

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