Oh no! More Degreed and Insulted

Subject: Oh no! More Degreed and Insulted
From: Pam Tatge <pamt -at- STEINBECK -dot- SC -dot- TI -dot- COM>
Date: Wed, 1 Jun 1994 14:13:29 CDT

Okay, I'll admit it--I have a BS in Scientific & Technical Communica-
tion. Several years ago, I hired a couple of tech writers who were
graduating from my alma mater. They made great pains to inform me that
my degree was worthless because it was OUT OF DATE. (Wow! Graduating in
1983 put me in...let's see...the late Cretaceous period.) I've also had
people with Master's degrees scoff at my measly Bachelor's.

This field is reasonably easy to wander into. Regardless of how you or I
got here, there will probably always be others in the field who can find
excuses to peer down their snouts and pronounce us inferior by reason of
some supposed defect in our educational backgrounds.

I've worked with many tech writers, some with degrees in this field and
some without. Some were excellent writers, some weren't--and there
wasn't necessarily a corollation between their writing skills and their
degrees. (Same statement holds true for "experience".) Through trial and
error (lots of errors), we've come up with hiring preferences; one of
those preferences is a degree in technical writing or something similar.
That seems to works best for us. It doesn't mean that we blindly require
a degree, and it sure doesn't mean that we think that's what works best
everywhere else.

I can't imagine how I could ever do this particular job without my
degree. I really needed (and still need) the information and experience
that I acquired while studying for that BS (apply the pun if you so
desire). But, with 11 years of experience, I have a hard time figuring
out what the heck a Master's degree would get me now (although I'm
masochistic enough to think it might be fun).

I think what's really important is not where you've come from, but what
you do once you're here (and I'm not talking about portfolios). What have
you done to learn about this field and learn about the best ways to
communicate with/to your customers? If you have a degree in this field,
are you keeping current or resting on your laurels? If you're a beginner
who has never taken a technical writing class, would it hurt to try?
Education shouldn't begin or end with a degree.

*** Pam Tatge, Member Group Technical Staff
*** Texas Instruments Semiconductor Group, Houston
*** pamt -at- steinbeck -dot- sc -dot- ti -dot- com

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