Entering in Tech Writing Resources

Subject: Entering in Tech Writing Resources
From: Melissa Lowery <MLOWERY -at- GWM -dot- SC -dot- EDU>
Date: Mon, 13 Jan 1997 15:16:06 -0500

Oh Great Experienced Tech Writers:

I made the transition from academia to the tech writing field after a
two and a half year "apprenticeship" where I taught myself much of what
I know (with the wonderful help of cyber-resources like this list). When I
have told several English major friends of mine about the TW field and my
job, they expressed interest in learning about technical communication as
a possible career (full-time, tenure track academic posts are becoming a
rarity so many grad students are beginning to scope out alternatives).

I was fortunate enough to be able to get my training (well, what has
passed for training) through my current (soon-to-be-former) job. It started
as a graduate assistantship at the university and converted to a full-time
temp job after I finished my degree. I was lucky to have the job for over
two years but it will, unfortunately, be eliminated once I vacate it, so
recommending a fellow Eng. grad to replace me is not an option.

What I would like to be able to do for my fellow grad students is give them
some information to help them begin an investigation of the field. I have
been acting as a sort of ad hoc mentor to several people, but giving them
advice based on my idiosyncratic experience is not as helpful as I would
like. I can't just tell them to get an assistantship as a TW and learn it OTJ
as I did. I was wondering if any other writers might be willing to help me
put together a list of resources and even bits of specific advice to help
new writers break into the field. This would be in addition to the
wonderful information that is already available on the WWW (for instance
the STC site, the various resource collections, etc.) I guess what I want
to construct is more of an advice-based resource than a resource-based
resource (does that make sense?)

I realize that someone with a lit. degree can't just walk into a TW
workplace and be able to function immediately. What I would like to
assemble is a set of resources to help these wanna-be TWs figure out
which skills they will need to acquire or perfect in order to make the
transition from academic to professional writer. If anyone would like to
contribute info to my effort I would be eternally grateful. I hope to turn it
into an e-mail and web resource available to anyone interested. I will, of
course, give credit where it is due by acknowledging each contributor's
work. I have even considered setting up a listserv devoted to beginning
TWers looking for mentoring and very basic career/field-related advice. It
would give beginners a place to ask the type of questions that might
seem too general or elementary for the more established TW lists. If
anyone is interested in aiding with this project, let me know.

In any event, any advice, info, bits of inspiration that you can contribute
will be appreciated and appropriately acknowledged. Thanks in advance.

Melissa Lowery
mlowery -at- gwm -dot- sc -dot- edu (until 1-15-97)

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