Re: Obsession with University Degrees?

Subject: Re: Obsession with University Degrees?
From: Penny Staples <pstaples -at- UBISERVER -dot- CHS -dot- MB -dot- CA>
Date: Fri, 20 Sep 1996 13:15:16 -0500

Hi folks,

I agree with the comments made so far on this issue, but I'd
like to add something in favour of university degrees...

A technical writer must have basic skills in grammar and
rhetoric (if I can still use such an old-fashioned word), and
must be able to start a project and see it through to the end.
Someone with a university degree has proven that he or she can
do this.

Having said this, a university degree doesn't prove that you have
any talent as a technical writer (as Bill points out, it's more
than just being grammatically correct). Ideally, I'd want to look
for someone with a university background AND relevant experience.
But I'd take a writer with proven experience and no degree before
I'd take a university grad with no experience as a writer.

This brings me to a pet peeve: University and college technical
writing programmes persist in hiring professors who have never
had to make a living working as writers (at least that's the way
it works around here). Why is this?

Penny Staples

Bill Sullivan wrote:
>>My opinion is that employers are missing out on a lot of incredibly
>>gifted people because they think someone who has spent four years
>>learning to think like the rest of his/her class is better... (I'm
>>sorry - I'm a tad biased as some of my 'degree' people have proved to
>>be as about as creative as a bar of soap with thought processes to

>Funny. I was thinking this very thing the other day when Robert
>Plamondon insisted to Peter Ring that we all should study technical
>illustration. I think you are right, but it is a truth that nobody
>understands. To be a tech writer, you need a certain fire, a certain
>compulsion to explain and describe things. It's good to explain
>things the way a drunk drinks, compulsively, without thinking about
>it, staying up late, getting up early, missing meals because it's
>what you do. Education is ancillary.

>Education, however, is what companies know. I believe, however, that
>there are still a lot of managers in the world who value what I call
>"fire." A person just has to be lucky enough to find them.

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