Breaking in (was Re: Computer jobs for liberal arts majors?)

Subject: Breaking in (was Re: Computer jobs for liberal arts majors?)
From: Ad absurdum per aspera <JTCHEW -at- LBL -dot- GOV>
Date: Tue, 16 Aug 1994 00:50:39 GMT

> Let's get specific -- in the tech writing field, how far would
> I (reasonably) get with a BA in English Lit, a diploma in Business
> Admin/Accounting from an accredited Business College, and a few
> Tech Writing courses (but not enough to make a minor)?
> I've had experience with MS Word for Windows, UNIX, DOS, etc.,
> but no programming (unless you count dBase, which I've been told
> I shouldn't).

Look, what you really need for success in technical
communication is a good investment counselor to help you
manage the skyrocketing salaries and a couple of washed-
up linebackers to keep the paparazzi and the groupies
at bay.

Seriously: If you understand the forms and conventions of
computer documentation, you can probably find a company to
take you on, especially considering the B-school courses.

> Would reading manuals of C++ be a good idea?

Maybe for some jobs. I doubt that programming can be learned
well just by reading books, though. Take a course instead.

Me, I worked in computer documentation for some time, including
some fairly hairy technical assignments, without reading
source code or doing any programming, which was a good thing
since a rapidly rusting course in FORTRAN was my only formal
training in the subject. What you really need for most jobs
is a basic familiarity with how your subject matter works,
enough to rapidly bootstrap your learning on the specific
topics you need to know (which, in many jobs, will change
often and with little warning anyway).

Other jobs, and other companies, require technical knowledge
tantamount to that of an engineer, either as an entry
qualification or as a day-to-day skill. They do not, however,
summarily execute unqualified applicants who accidentally send
in a resume.

For a taste of what people in this field think about, you
might want to attend the Association for Computing Machinery's
SIGDOC conference and/or the Institute of Electrical and
Electronics Engineers Professional Communication Society's
International Professional Communication Conference. They
are being held back to back this October in Banff. (I have some
leftover Proceedings from the 1992 IPCC and would be happy to
send you one if you give me your mailing address.) Although
the recruiting atmosphere isn't what it was during the glory
days of Silicon Valley expansion and defense spending back in
the mid-80s, I wouldn't be surprised if you came back from the
conference(s) with some solid leads on a job.

Finally, get involved in the Society for Technical Communication,
one of the best resources I know of for intellectual and
professional development in this field. They're at 901 North
Stuart Street, Arlington, VA, 22203 USA, voice 703/522-4114,
fax 703/522-2075.

Good luck and welcome in advance to the madhouse,
"Just another personal opinion from the People's Republic of Berkeley"
Disclaimer: Even if my employer had a position on the subject,
I probably wouldn't be the one stating it on their behalf.

Previous by Author: What's an edit? (was Re: Computer jobs for liberal arts majors?)
Next by Author: Re: Usage of the word "thru"
Previous by Thread: unsubscribe
Next by Thread: Re: Breaking in (was Re: Computer jobs for liberal arts majors?)

What this post helpful? Share it with friends and colleagues:

Sponsored Ads