Re: To start a new thread...

Subject: Re: To start a new thread...
From: "Doug, Data Librarian at Ext 4225" <engstromdd -at- PHIBRED -dot- COM>
Date: Wed, 20 Apr 1994 13:15:56 -0500

"How does one get started in Tech Writing?" I asked that same question myself
slightly more than six years ago, when I was trying to turn a Journalism degree
and some Air Force public affairs experience into a postion in the glamorous and
high-paid world of technical communication. :)

For what they're worth, here are my suggestions, based on that experience and
subsequent job hunts:

1) Join STC (Society for Technical Communication) and avail yourself of the
following services:

* Attend local chapter meetings faithfully. Meet people, talk about their jobs
and companies. Find out who is growing, even if they are not necessarily hiring
at the moment. Maintain close tabs on growing companies that you like; make
sure they know you're available, but don't beat them over the head with it.
When openings come up, you'll be among the first to know.

* Check out the STC BBS for an on-line posting of job opportunities. Dial up
Arlington, VA at (703)522-3299.

* Get to know the job bank coordinator in your local chapter and the chapters
in cities you want to live in. I'm not sure if there's a central listing of job
bank coordinators or not, but if you write STC headquarters at stc -at- tmn -dot- com, I'm
sure somebody there could tell you. (or call them at (703)522-4114.)

* If you are interested in a nationwide job search, attend the international
conference in Minneapolis this May. I'm told there will be a jobs booth and
some companies will be interviewing.

2) Check out your college. If they have a job placement service for graduates,
get into it. If they have a job bank newsletter, subscribe. If your college
is large, separate departments may have separate services; get in touch with
the one that handles technical communicators (usually English or Journalism).
If local colleges allow non-graduates to use their services, take advantage of
the opportunity. (Public institutions are understandably much more relaxed
about this.)

3) Scope out smaller companies. My first job was with a 12-person agricultural
software developer. I was the first and only technical writer. Scary, but a
great start. Smaller companies often can't be as picky about whom they hire as
"first tier" employers.

Unfortunately, this also usually means the pay is lower, benefits are skimpy and
security is not as great, BUT you usually get a great opportunity to handle a
wide variety of tasks and chart your own course. If your economic situation
allows (ie no children or major debts) a good small company can be a great place
to start. (Side benefit: If you can participate though an ESOP or other stock
plan and the company takes off like a rocket, you can do very nicely. My
retirement accounts are much fatter than they would otherwise be, thanks to the
timely sale of a former employer.)

It sounds like you're really on top of things and have taken a strong
"proactive" approach to your career. Sooner or later (and I predict sooner
rather than later) you will find what you are looking for.

ENGSTROMDD -at- phibred -dot- com

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