Ye Olde Tarheel State...not hiring?

Subject: Ye Olde Tarheel State...not hiring?
From: Christy Dawn Langley <GRLANGLE -at- ECUVM -dot- CIS -dot- ECU -dot- EDU>
Date: Sat, 23 Nov 1996 09:55:07 EST

I graduated 3 months ago with a Master's degree in English
(Concentration in Technical Writing) and aspirations of starting a
career in software documentation. I have been on interviews, not for
full tech writing positions, but, odd as it seems to me, for marketing
positions -- all of which I have lost to candidates with more
"experience." A huge barrier to employment for me seems to be "workplace
experience." Prospective employers have called me on the phone, very
interested initially, but when they subsequently discovered that I
didn't have any "workplace experience," I was told, "Well, I don't think
the managers will hire anyone without real workplace experience." And
they didn't. So I've got a Masters degree, completed an internship in
which I developed a brochure for an office, created an email manual for
the English department at my university, and am proficient in a
considerable number of software programs...but I don't have workplace
experience. There were not (and still aren't) but three technical
writing jobs that I was aware of in my hometown. I think tw workplace
experience in NC was/is difficult to obtain unless you live in the

I traveled to a job interview in the heart of Raleigh for an entry level
technical writing position. I wasn't asked to bring writing samples with
me to the interview but was asked during the interview where my writing
samples were (rule
requested or not). When I got home, I xeroxed my thesis (which contained
a brochure and manual), had it ring bound, and sent it on its way to
Raleigh. The job called for editing financial software manuals. These
were mammoth manuals that could swallow my manual whole. When I called
the company a couple of days later to ask if the lady had received my
writing samples, I wondered by her response if she wasn't thinking that
my manual was child's play compared to the leviathans she needed revised
and edited.

Each day I consult the N&O for entry level tw positions in the area of
software documentation. I would like to begin my career in some sort of
apprenticeship, working with a mentor, collaborating, basically
"learning the ropes." Unfortunately, I can't find any such positions in
North Carolina. Every ad (with the exception of one thus far) requires
the future employee to have 3-5 yrs. of experience. A Masters doesn't
seem to hold the value that I thought it would. Do I need to seriously
look outside my state for positions?

Another issue is that of salary. What salary does a person request with
a Masters in English? Oddly enough, I think I have been asking too low.
I was hoping someone on this list could mail me some reasonable figures.
Also, does it matter that my degree is in English with a concentration
in Technical Writing and not actually in Tech Writing?

Thanks in advance for any responses.


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