Re: expectations of an entry-level writer

Subject: Re: expectations of an entry-level writer
From: Bill Burns <BillDB -at- ILE -dot- COM>
Date: Tue, 28 Oct 1997 11:16:08 -0700

Stephanie writes:

> I'm surprised by the techwhirlers who say no work experience or
> internships should be required for an entry-level job. How can you be
> sure someone can write -- or even *likes* to write -- if you don't
> have
> any samples? (Yes, I realize some people might bring samples of other
> people's work, but that's another story.)
>
But are internships the only way to get that experience? Can't you
demonstrate these abilities in other ways? I didn't see a single ability
listed that could not be developed in venues other than an internship.
An internship IS a great idea--I'm not disputing that. I'm disputing the
logic behind using that as the sole indication of initiative is flawed.
You can assess competence in many other ways, and you should. The
criteria listed in the post to which I responded didn't differentiate
between those which could be gained through other means and those which
had to be gained as a technical communicator.

> Whether it's newspaper stories, press releases, policies, or
> instructions, a clip is a clip. It shows a prospective employer that
> you
> can (or can't) write -- or at least that you're interested in writing
> and have tried to write. I can't imagine ever hiring someone with no
> writing or editing experience and knowledge. Writing is a craft --
> it's
> not a position for which you hire someone and train them to do the job
> in two weeks.
>
Again, these aren't the criteria that were listed, and the skills
required for these tasks can all be (and usually are) gained through
means other than internships in the corporate world (working on a
university paper, developing course materials as a graduate assistant,
writing and editing expository compositions). If a year as a reporter
for the school newspaper qualifies as appropriate experience, then I can
accept that. As I stated, internships are not the only metric to use to
measure initiative.

Internships are a GREAT idea, but they are not the only way that people
can gain experience, nor are they necessarily the best indicator of
personal initiative. They are simply another qualification that should
be taken along with all others on an applicant's resume.

Bill Burns
Senior Technical Writer
ILE Communications Group
billdb -at- ile -dot- com

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