our relationship to the bottom line/certification

Subject: our relationship to the bottom line/certification
From: "Smith, Amy" <Amy -dot- Smith -at- FMR -dot- COM>
Date: Thu, 13 Jul 1995 17:46:00 -0500

On July 13, Arlen Walker wrote:
"Let's talk about ways to highlight our relationship to the bottom line. You
want respect? The shortest path to an executive's respect runs directly
through the corporate treasury. Prove good
writing saves money. If it doesn't save money, it'll never get paid for. If
it does, they'll buy more than we can possibly supply."

I'd be very interested in hearing about how other technical writers
demonstrate their effectiveness "via the corporate treasury," particularly
those writers who produce documentation for in-house use. It seems that it
would be easier to justify your existence if you ship handsome, shiny
manuals with your products. I work for a large company and produce systems
documentation for internal use. There is no official career path for
technical communicators here, and full-time headcount for tech writers can
probably be counted on the thumbs of both hands. Users complain about
documentation, yet no one wants to pay for it.

BTW, college degrees are good for things other than certification. I'm
enrolled in a master's degree program for tech writing. I'm going not
because I have to, but because I want to.

I'm not going because I need to learn how to write; I agree with all of you
who said that good writers should more or less be good writers by the time
they graduate high school. Guess what? To get into this program, you have
to show that you can write.

I'm not going for "certification."( Many people ask if I'll get a pay
increase when I get my degree. I just laugh insanely.)

I'm going because I want to learn fresh ideas and new ways of thinking. The
two primary faculty members in the program are well-known and active in
their fields, and are valuable sources of knowledge and experience. The
adjunct faculty are tech writing professionals from around the Boston area.

I'm going because I want to extend myself somewhat. Believe me, I've had
some pretty painful assignments (ask me about a case study I just finished),
but I honestly can't say that any of them were not worth the work.

I'm going because I'm interested in the academic and theoretical work being
done in our field. For example, in my last class, I was introduced to
"Writing in Non-Academic Settings" by Lee Odell and Dixie Goswami. I can't
tell you how valuable that's been to me in my work.

Sometimes it's the journey that counts, not the destination.

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