Re: Ye Olde Tarheel State...not hiring?

Subject: Re: Ye Olde Tarheel State...not hiring?
From: Jane Bergen <janeb -at- AIRMAIL -dot- NET>
Date: Sat, 23 Nov 1996 12:34:00 +600

On 23 Nov 96 at 9:55, Christy Dawn Langley wrote:

> 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

(snipped for brevity)

> 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?

Sadly, the answer is "probably" -- I do believe that entry-level job
opportunities for tech writers seem to be regional. You might want to
consider doing a little homework about the types of tech writing
that interest you (software development vs. manufacturing, computer
telephony versus multimedia versus whatever) and then find the
hotspots for your interests and move there, if that is an option.

In Dallas, there seems to be quite a few jobs right now, as in Denver
and all over the North East (Boston down to the DC area). And of
course, there are always jobs in California, more in Silicon Valley
according to recent messages in this list.

Does your school not have an internship for tech writers? Most
offer, if not actually require, some sort of internship. Have you
checked with your college placement office (though I've found they
usually have poor pickings for tech writers)?

I also have a Master's in English with a specialization in Technical
Writing and have found it to be very helpful. But nothing speaks
like successful experience. I can't stress enough (Listen up, current
students) that students should get involved EARLY.... BEFORE
graduation.... they can volunteer to do campus projects, seek out
small shareware developers and ask to work with them and write
software manuals, rewrite poorly-written manuals (or sections) to
put in a portfolio. I didn't and regret it to my bones! I did get
lucky, though, and have a good job in spite of it.

As for salaries, don't expect the degree to get you a lot more money.
Rather it works as leverage... at least in my experience. You're
going to have to start at the bottom until you get experience anyway.

Good luck.

Jane Bergen
janeb -at- airmail -dot- net


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