Re: Tech Writing Skills

Subject: Re: Tech Writing Skills
From: "Susan W. Gallagher" <sgallagher -at- STARBASECORP -dot- COM>
Date: Thu, 2 Feb 1995 10:42:49 -0800

Karla McMaster writes:

> I don't disagree with Bob's premise that technical writers need to have a
> base of skills. What I would like to clarify is that I think sometimes a
> prejudice exists in employers as to who qualifies as "techie." I have seen
> technical writer positions that require an engineering degree or experience
> coding software. I have neither, but I think I have proven that I can
> understand and communicate a very broad base of technical information. In
> essence, sometimes the restrictions seem arbitrary. Perhaps, as others point
> out, this is necessary to cull resumes. That's just tough to remember when the
> job looks interesting and I know I could do it!

I remember when I first started in tech writing (back in the 17th
centruy - or so it seems - 1983/4) I applied for a temporary job
at 20th Centruy Fox studios. They wanted someone to doc a business
system that one of their own programmers wrote - in COBOL. And the
job paid $18/hr - unheard of wages back then!

I had a very successful interview and the guy loved my samples -
but he just couldn't understand how I could doc his system if I
didn't know how to program in COBOL. (Now I know how to answer that
comment [for me personally] - back then I did not.)

Madder 'n a wet hen and stubbornly sure that such a devistating
thing would *never* happen to me again, I enrolled in the local
jc and took BASIC & COBOL (not at the same time). Of course, today
you'd have to pick maybe C++ and Smalltalk.

Has a knowledge of programming made me a better tech writer? I
dunno. Maybe. Has it gotten me more jobs than I'd have gotten
without the knowledge? Yes. Definately. Way!

Sue Gallagher
StarBase Corp, Irvine CA
sgallagher -at- starbasecorp -dot- com

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