Re: TW and Education, degrees (long)

Subject: Re: TW and Education, degrees (long)
From: Elna Tymes <etymes -at- LTS -dot- COM>
Date: Fri, 13 Dec 1996 09:48:30 -0800

Stuart Burnfield wrote:

> ...if I had read your resume last week without having seen your message
> yesterday, I suspect I would have thought "Hmph! Diploma mill". It
> wouldn't have put you out of the running, but in a tight field, it might
> have meant the difference between getting and not getting an interview. **

And I, as one who hires technical writers, would have thought "Good for
him! Probably while he was working to support his family, he went out
and got some additional education. Sounds like a go-getter to me!"

This whole nonsense about credentials and "professionalism" is pretty
ridiculous. To have a whole international community of people engaging
in an animated discussion about whether a piece of paper is worth
something is - to say the least - amusing. The value of a degree, in my
company's opinion, is that it represents some degree of training, but
more important it teaches the recipient HOW TO LEARN. I'm not
convinced that any academic institution can teach a person how to write
-- I've seen much mixed results on that topic. However, most
institutions offering a degree submit the candidate to a program that
requires a certain amount of independent research tied to a requirement
to analyze and write up the findings. Fundamentally, that's what
technical writers do: we research something and then turn around and
write up what we learned, in a form someone else can use.

In my opinion, people who are truly professionals are not necessarily
those who have degrees or certification, but those who have a
demonstrated ability to research problems, analyze the data, and
present the results in a form that helps others. Degrees give them
analytical tools and intellectual background.

So what makes a "professional" technical writer? Granted, the ability
to write clearly and concisely, and for whatever audience level is
indicated. But more importantly, the ability to research and analyze
technical subjects, and then present the material in a form someone else
can use.

Which means, in our company, what matters is the ability to learn. We
can (and do) teach our people the tools they need.

Elna Tymes
Los Trancos Systems

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