Re: questions about professional tech writing

Subject: Re: questions about professional tech writing
From: Stephanie Holland <SLHOLLAND -at- MICRON -dot- COM>
Date: Thu, 9 Oct 1997 17:58:44 -0600

Jonathan, your experience sounds great. I have a journalism degree and
worked at newspapers for seven years before I decided that I'd had
enough. I always wondered what I could do with my journalism degree once
I got out of newspapers, but now I realize that what I learned as a
journalist is partly what helps me succeed at my job in the technical
communication field.

I manage a technical communication group at a company that makes
computers. Here are some things I looked for when I hired technical
writers:

* exceptional writing and editing skills
* great knowledge of desktop publishing and design
* curiosity, tenacity, assertiveness
* ability to successfully manage multiple projects
* ability to independently learn new software and technology

The writers learned RoboHelp, FrameMaker, HTML, JavaScript, HTML Help,
etc. after they were hired. If a potential employer says she needs
someone who knows FrameMaker and you don't know it, tell her you know
you can learn it because you already know PageMaker, Quark, or whatever.
Sell her on the skills you do have and give specific examples of how
your skills are similar to what she seeks.

I think employers will be attracted by your journalism degree, work
experience, portfolio, computer knowledge, and HTML skills. You might
try looking for jobs in Information Technology (IT) departments, which
are also called Information Systems. I work in one and I love it -- it's
fast-paced, the pay and training opportunities are often higher than in
other departments that hire technical writers, and the job prospects are
terrific. The trade magazines say IT is a great place to be right now.

You could also join your local chapter of the Society for Technical
Communication (I think students get a discount rate) to network and gain
opportunities to do some computer-related writing. STC's web site is at
http://www.stc-va.org/home.html.

Good luck!

Stephanie Holland
Micron Electronics
slholland -at- micron -dot- com

>----------
>From: Jonathan Soukup[SMTP:jjs4315 -at- UNIX -dot- TAMU -dot- EDU]
>Sent: Thursday, October 09, 1997 4:52 PM
>To: TECHWR-L -at- LISTSERV -dot- OKSTATE -dot- EDU
>Subject: questions about professional tech writing
>
>I am a senior Agricultural Journalism major at Texas A&M University and
>I
>will finish my degree this December. In the last year my interests have
>shifted from agriculture to computer/internet-related subjects. Someone
>suggested to me that I look for a job in the technical writing field.
>This way I could further explore computer technology, etc. Writing has
>never been a problem for me, but I'm wondering how potential employers
>will look upon my resume. I have worked semi-professionally as a
>journalist and have a portfolio that most undergrad students would die
>for. I've also worked as a student webmaster
>(http://reslife.tamu.edu/webmasters/) for almost a year now and
>have aquired more computing skills than I though I would ever need as a
>journalist. Does it sound like I have a decent shot at finding a job as
>a
>technical writer? What basic skills will an employer be looking for? Am
>I
>totally out of my league? Any advice would be helpful.
>
>Thanks,
>Jonathan Soukup
>jjs4315 -at- unix -dot- tamu -dot- edu
>Texas A&M University
>
>
> TECHWR-L (Technical Communication) List Information: To send a message
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>commands
> to LISTSERV -at- LISTSERV -dot- OKSTATE -dot- EDU (e.g. HELP or SIGNOFF TECHWR-L).
> Search the archives at http://www.documentation.com/ or search and
>browse the archives at
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>

TECHWR-L (Technical Communication) List Information: To send a message
to 2500+ readers, e-mail to TECHWR-L -at- LISTSERV -dot- OKSTATE -dot- EDU -dot- Send commands
to LISTSERV -at- LISTSERV -dot- OKSTATE -dot- EDU (e.g. HELP or SIGNOFF TECHWR-L).
Search the archives at http://www.documentation.com/ or search and
browse the archives at http://listserv.okstate.edu/archives/techwr-l.html


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