Re: First days and weeks on the tech writing job

Subject: Re: First days and weeks on the tech writing job
From: John Posada <jposada99 -at- gmail -dot- com>
To: Nina Rogers <janina -dot- rogers -at- gmail -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 27 Jun 2018 14:42:57 -0400

I'm a learn as you go kinda person.

Forget the reading, tools, policies or procedures. Give them a simple a
task. Ask to see what they've done after about 2 days. Review it and make
suggestions or tell them how to do it differently. As time goes on, give
them more complex tasks that leverage what they've previously learned.

I'm currently doing this with an intern. My first task was for him to go
through 150 documents and create a list of all abbreviations, acks, and
anything that was a term. Eventually I walked him through the process of
making it into a glossary. For another, I asked him to make a change in 200
documents by replacing a section with another. He now knows more about a
particular subject than if I asked him to read 350 documents.

When you meet with SMEs, have him attend but say nothing. You want him to
see how you work with SMEs, not what the particular SME knows, then meet
with him afterwards to answer any questions he has on why you did what you
did.

People who each of you and he report to are going to be watching and they
will be more comfortable with him when you can point to actual deliverables
that he's producing.

On Tue, Jun 26, 2018 at 12:56 PM 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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--
John Posada
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References:
First days and weeks on the tech writing job: From: Nina Rogers

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