Questions about Professional Tech Writing

Subject: Questions about Professional Tech Writing
From: Jonathan Soukup <jjs4315 -at- UNIX -dot- TAMU -dot- EDU>
Date: Tue, 14 Oct 1997 00:29:40 -0500

I first wanted to thank everyone for responding to my questions about
tech writing. I was amazed. It's not everyday that you get 20 pages of
email from people who actually want to help you with your questions (I
was worried about blowing the 3 meg cap on my unix account). I
appreciate all the ideas and leads.

I did have a few comments I wanted to pass along and I'm going to use a
shotgun approach.

1. Why is it when you say you've had experience as a webmaster, people
come to two conclusions, they either think you some sort of mindless
chimp on a Windows 95 box who spends 90% of their life playing Quake and
bulding web pages in Front Page or you're an absolute genius who's
getting ready to program the next probe to Mars? (Excuse the
sentence construction) I have to say being a web master requires a lot of
different skills unless you're company is well staffed. When we asked for
another computer at my current job, my boss told us to scavange for parts
and build one. We did. My point is most people lie in the gray (in
between) areas. If I were a comp sci major with programming under my
belt, I would probably be looking for a job as a webmaster.

2. Some people suggested that I follow technical writing into
agricultural fields. My opinion of these jobs is that they don't pay well
and you have to live in the midwest. I'm sorry , I didn't spend all this
time in college to work hard and be relatively poor. My personal
prefernce is to live in the south. I hate snow and getting it here once a
year is more than enough. Of course not all jobs are like this, but the
majority of agriculture jobs for people like me fit these paramenters.

3. Texas A&M is 90 miles east of Austin. 120 miles north of Houston and
180 miles south of Dallas.

4. I'm not sure that I will ever go back to pure journalism. There is too
much work there for too little money. I don't need a job that's going to
continously interfer with my family, life, etc.

5. I have worked for the Texas Agricultural Extension Service and for
Texas A&M University. I have come to the conclusion that I do not wish to
work for either of these entities. There is a definate lack of leadership
in these institutes and an abundance of red tape. I'm looking for jobs in
the private sector for these reasons.

As you can see, I have some pretty arogant expectations for any job I
might get. I merely want a decent job where I will be treated fairly for
doing a good job. I know those are rare and my first job will be
something I won't like that much, but we all have to make a living.

I'm currently making plans to build a Linux computer and trying to find a
bootleg copy of FrameMaker(for win95/NT) so I can learn the in's and
out's of it.

My computer skills grow daily, but most things work the same. (word
processors, spread sheets, etc.) Here is a short list of my skills, and I
think it's fairly complete with the exception of the tech tools you have
mentioned.

"Skilled with both Macintosh and IBM-compatible computers including
MS-DOS, Windows 3.11, 95, NT 4.0, and Macintosh System 7.5.5. WordPerfect
3.0 (Mac), 5.1, 6.1, 7, 8, Lotus 1-2-3, LetterPerfect, Claris Works 4.0,
MacWrite, PageMaker 6.0, Quark XPress 3.0, Adobe Illustrator 5.0, Adobe
Photoshop 4.0, Corel Draw 7, Corel Photo Paint 7, Netscape 4.03 and
Internet Explorer 3.02. I have full knowledge of the HTML language and
writing text based code. Also skilled with hardware assembly for both PC
and Macintosh systems. "

Thanks for all of your suggestions, they have been most educational.

Jonathan J. Soukup
jjs4315 -at- unix -dot- tamu -dot- edu

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