Re: So what do you do with SOCIAL sciences?

Subject: Re: So what do you do with SOCIAL sciences?
From: Bill Amos <bpa1 -at- DEV1 -dot- OSI -dot- COM>
Date: Fri, 10 Feb 1995 10:52:38 +0800

Gretchen Toth wrote:

> Hello, hello-

> Gregg Roberts just asked me how I will be using my background in Psychology
> with Technical Writing. I figured that once I get out into the "real world" it
> wouldn't do much for me, except that I could say "well I wrote stuff" and "I
> did a two-factor ANOVA one time."

> Is there anyone who has had a background in the SOCIAL sciences who would
> how they have used that background or share how that background may actually
> sought by an employer?

Hi, Gretchen --

I got my degree a loooong time ago in Communication Arts (Radio/TV/Film
emphasis) from UW-Madison, and then a law degree from Loyola in Chicago.
Neither of these is Psychology, but on the face of it they don't pertain
much to technical communication, either. Yet still I'm still managing to
work my way up the ladder in my profession.

I've always maintained that in order to write well you must READ CON-
STANTLY and practice writing. In this sense, my law studies did me a
whole lot more good than the college work I did in a strange little off-
shoot of the Communications field. So don't say "I wrote stuff." Rather,
say "I WROTE this and this and this; and I was reading constantly; and this
is how all that preparation shows in my writing samples." When I've hired
tech writers, I've often made the final cut based on writing samples and
whether the candidate's thoughtfulness and humanity peeked through. Tech-
nical skills can be taught; empathy for the user cannot.

Now, of course I'm describing a best-case scenario where a new writer is
involved; often, when deadlines are looming, one cares less about the
humanities and more about how many good pages can be cranked out in time.
But still, I guess I'll always have a soft spot for social science folks.

And another thing: in order to stay competitive, many companies are focusing
more and more on the *processes* involved with turning out a product. Some-
one with an understanding of how humans think and work and feel could be
a valuable employee in that respect.

Bill Amos
Objective Systems Integrators
Folsom, CA

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