Changing careers

Subject: Changing careers
From: Richard G Harris <rgh -at- WORLD -dot- STD -dot- COM>
Date: Sat, 28 Oct 1995 08:25:32 +0059

Dennis Callaghan wrote


> Certainly the money and opportunities, both short and
> long-term, are better in the technical communication field and the
> hours tend to be more reasonable as well.

It's relative of course. I used to be an engineer, and you'll get some
argument about tech writing being well paid.

> But how do you deal with
> deadlines that tend to be long range rather than daily? How do you get
> a sense of accomplishment or feeling of making a contribution to your
> company when you can work on a project for months on end without
> seeing the results, when before you needed only to pick up that day's
> paper to see what you had done lately.

As a tech writer, you're probably part of a team now. Someone is
probably acting as a project manager. I find the only way I meet deadlines
is to plan my writing projects carefully, identifying the big tasks anyway.
Whether you use project planning software or pencil and paper is, to me
anyway, relatively unimportant.

When you break a project down into smaller tasks, you give yourself some
milestones automatically. Checking off each task gives me a sense of
accomplishment (you're right I think -- a human being needs more
immediate goals and rewards.

> How do you cope with a subject matter that is often duller and less
> comprehensible than what you used to report on?

It's all in the eye of the beholder. As you get into a project, you tend
to get completely immersed in it.

> Has the camaraderie of
> the newsroom been adequately replaced by your current office
> environment or do you feel isolated because you work in documentation?
> And do you miss the "free spirit" types you worked with in your
> reporting days?

If you're with a really small company now, I can see whay you feel more
isolated. But even in a small company, you're part of a team. There
always seemed to be plently of spirit in most of the people I
worked with.

> Finally, have you settled on this field as your career
> or are you just doing it for now because you can, and jobs are
> available, but you have your sights set on making another career
> change down the road?

I chose tech writing because I can do it. If sharpening my writing skills
leads to something else, that'd be great. On the other hand, there's
nothing wrong with working in a career which has plenty of good paying

> Answers to these questions and any other insights you could provide as
> well as tips for avoiding news writing practices/styles that aren't
> welcome in tech writing ...

I decided to attend an intensive retraining program when I switched
careers. In the program I gained a real appreciation for the difficulty
and techniques of communicating complex information on the pring (or
electronic) page. It's not easy turning something dry into something

IMHO, the rewards are there. I still get up in the middle of the night
when I wake up with a good idea (maybe I'm an insomniac too).

Welcome to the fold...

Dick Harris
rgh -at- world -dot- std -dot- com
Waters Corp., Milford, MA

Previous by Author: GhostScript/GhostView for windows and/or DOS?
Next by Author: Signup info for Internet Marketing
Previous by Thread: What tools (database, video, audio) do you use?
Next by Thread: World Class, Summary (Long)

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

Sponsored Ads