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

Subject: Re: Ye Olde Tarheel State...not hiring?
From: "Wing, Michael J" <mjwing -at- INGR -dot- COM>
Date: Mon, 25 Nov 1996 11:58:30 -0600


>The moral of the story is that an
>English degree is less valuable than the professors lead us to believe (just
>ask my friends with Master's degrees in English who, five years after
>graduation, still work unhappily in retail stores).

>Karen Brown
>karen -dot- brown -at- cho -dot- ge -dot- com
>Charlottesville, VA

To me, entering and advancing in the technical writing field contrasts
with entering and advancing in the academic fields. It seems to be a
matter of breadth and depth. IMO, the academic field looks for depth
(specialty in an area; AS-BS-MS-PH.D; is the person published?; and so
forth). The technical writing field, at least as it applies to services
and industry, looks for breadth (writing skills + technical skills +
practical experience + . . .).

The technical and service fields (which I'm guessing provide the
majority of TW jobs) are broader than just Technical Writing as are the
language fields. Therefore, it is the area of overlap between the TW
candidate and the technical and service fields that the employer is
interested. Language skills are within the area of overlap. But they
are only one set of skills in a Technical Writer.

Having an advanced degree in a language contributes to the depth of the
overlap but not the breadth. If the available position requires
extremely strong language skills, the advanced degree is a solid
advantage. However, if the position requires software skills,
experience with document tools, subject matter knowledge, as well as
writing skills, the employer may de-emphasize the requirement for depth
and emphasize the requirement for breadth.

Specialized positions exist, but more positions seem to require a 'Jack
of all trades; ace of none' candidate. Therefore, a Bachelors with an
AS in Computer Science may be more suited for breaking into the software
technical writing field than an MS in Journalism. It is probably the
opposite for obtaining writing/language positions that are not TW

Mike Wing

| Michael Wing
| Principal Technical Writer
| Infrastructure Technical Information Development
| Intergraph Corporation
| Huntsville, Alabama
| (205) 730-7250
| mjwing -at- ingr -dot- com

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