Programs new tech writers should know

Subject: Programs new tech writers should know
From: Emily Cotlier <Cotlier -at- JBLSMTP -dot- PHL -dot- LRPUB -dot- COM>
Date: Thu, 16 Oct 1997 15:40:37 -0500

I'm a budding technical writer in the Tech/Sci Communications M.A.
program at Drexel University. Lots of technical writing job ads specify
RoboHelp, Doc-to-Help, FrameMaker, and FrontPage as programs which
the job applicants must know. Where can I learn about these programs
without spending a lot of money (which I don't have)? Are there any
other programs a seriously aspiring technical writer should learn? I am
competent in MS Word, WP, LotusNotes, QuarkXpress, and Ventura; I've
dabbled in creating web pages and working with scans, screen
captures, and editing graphics on-screen.

I learned how important these programs are the hard way. I very briefly
had a technical writing job where I was expected to learn Doc-to-Help
from scratch, without any training. I learned what the manual and on-line
help could teach me--but I was stonewalled when it came to reformatting
the templates in a particular way, couldn't get through to their help line,
and my supervisor at the time flat-out told me not to expect any help
whatsoever from her or anyone else at the company. I could understand
that she was frustrated and wanted me to learn "on my own", but I did
not think that refusing to communicate with me was good management or
the way to solve the problem. Our interpersonal relations went downhill
from there so severely that, after consulting with the place's human
resources manager, I left.

This is a mistake I don't want to make again! I want to go into a
job/new place knowing at least the most important programs. Any advice
is welcome! FYI, I am in the Philadelphia area.

Thanks so much,

Emily Cotlier

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