Re: Training New Employees (fwd)

Subject: Re: Training New Employees (fwd)
From: George Allaman <gallama -at- LOOKOUT -dot- ECTE -dot- USWC -dot- USWEST -dot- COM>
Date: Thu, 4 Jan 1996 18:16:23 -0700

On Thu, 4 Jan 1996, Karen Gwynn/Datatel wrote:

> I am interested in hearing about anyone's experience with training new
> technical writers in an environment similar to ours.

Hi Karen -

I just left a situation like that.

I have a degree in electrical engineering and ten years experience in the
field, but I took a sabbatical sailing around the Caribbean that
stretched out to eight years. When I came back I found that I was my
engineering skills were obsolete.

I was hired as a technical writer by a telecommunications software company in
Denver as a "Tech Writer II". I knew WordPerfect 5.1, but I knew nothing of
telecommunications or FrameMaker. I learned there, and in a very short time.

It was a good experience for me and the company, too. I had no formal
training there. I was expected to learn Frame on my own. I was supposed
to have a mentor, but none was provided. That would have helped immensely.

I would say formal training is overkill. Have the new writer work closely
under an experienced writer. Give them small, easily digested jobs to do that
force them to figure out how to learn the desktop publishing package. This
way they feel productive. Make it the experienced writer's job to ensure that
they read and understand material (if you have it) on the company's
documentation policies. My boss also gave me a handout from a tech writing
seminar he did that was very helpful. Make sure that the new writers are
matched with experienced writers who enjoy mentoring, and that the match is

The company I started at had little in the way of written documentation
policies, so I made it my job to generate them. This was easy, since it meant
simply that I was documenting what I was learning. This was also very helpful
- soon we began to have weekly meetings for the purpose of setting policy,
and I learned a tremendous amount from those discussions, as I think every
other writer did, experienced or not.

I also assisted in generating teaching materials and teaching a class to
programmers on Frame. This was also a major help.

Hope this helps. Good luck.

|George Allaman | |
|Tech Writer | <clever, meaningful |
|Denver, Colorado | quip which somehow |
|Office (303) 624-1619 | summarizes my life |
|Home (303) 771-8060 | philosophy> |
|Alternate: georgea -at- csn -dot- net | |

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