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> Greetings! I'm a college senior who will soon begin my quest for
> The Perfect First Technical Writing Job (tm). So far I have only
> seen one entry-level job advertised, and that was in an online job
> database. Everyone else is asking for two to five years of
> experience, often with software we don't run on our network.
Megan, are you near a major city with an STC chapter? Our chapter,
Lone Star in Dallas, Texas, has a mentoring program for new writers.
The new writer is assigned to a volunteer who helps them network,
etc. Even if your local chapter does not have a mentoring program,
you should join STC and become involved now. You can't have too many
friends in the industry, plus it helps to put STC as a professional
activity/organization on your resume.
> Unfortunately I wasn't able to get a tech writing internship this
> summer like several of my classmates did. My internship has
> amounted to designing and creating a home page for our student
> chapter of the STC and a home page for my college's English
> department. I wouldn't say that that has been a very practical or
> realistic experience, but it's been fun and I've learned a lot of
Internships are not a do-or-die thing. Some are not worth a whole
lot, anyway. HTML is a good skill. Keep it up and when you go to interview, be
sure to take along a diskette with some samples to show.
> So, I'll graduate with no writing experience beyond what I've gotten
> from class assignments. What did the rest of you do when you found
> yourselves in this position after finishing a technical writing
> program of some sort?
I started as a real technical writer, not at the copy machine. You
can too, if you start preparing now. Develop some samples, even if
you have to volunteer your services to do it. Does your school have a
career placement office? Start with them NOW.... don't make the
mistake of waiting until after you have graduated to jump into this
process. Work hard on a killer resume and get a second pair of eyes
to check it for spelling, etc.
The hardest job to get is your first one. Don't expect miracles or a
high salary. Work hard, gather lots of samples for your portfolio,
network like crazy, and when you decide to move on, you'll be ready.
Jane Bergen, Technical Writer
AnswerSoft, Inc. - Plano, Texas
janeb -at- airmail -dot- net or janeb -at- answersoft -dot- com