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1) One or more employers who will take a chance on an unproven individual
_and_ will give that person a chance to really grow and develop.
2) One or more people (mentors, of sorts) who will support, help, advise,
and encourage. These presuppose a highly motivated, hard working,
technically educable, literate, well-read, prospective technical
communicator. Note that degree (in any field), experience, and
don't play into it.
Time to delurk. I am not a Technical Writer . . . yet. I am an admin for
the product support & development depts at a Payroll/HR software
company. There are 2 Tech Writers in the department now, and 2 more
possible openings in the new year. My goal since I was hired about a
year ago is to become a TW. As an admin, I have to find/create
projects that will help build my skills. I volunteer to do the grunt
work (proof-reading, flagging date formats in a manual, etc.); I
learn the apps on my own time; I subscribe to the lists; and I have a
passion for this field that (usually) balances both the logical and
creative sides of my brain. My degrees--in English (inhale!) and
Psychology (exhale!)--have prepared me well, and while my technical
savvy is limited, I can understand the concepts of what I am writing.
Recently I completed a project of my own writing that will be
included in the next release of our manuals. The TWs I work with now
are extrememly helpful and encouraging. The challenge is convincing
management that I am capable, despite my limited background (no
portfolio, minimal experience, etc.)
I agree with Eric, and hopefully, my company will take a chance on me, the
"unproven individual." If not, I can use all of the valuable
information and tips from this list to build a convincing portfolio,
even if my resume doesn't show a definitive background in the field.
If that time comes, I hope my prospective employers will take time to
hear my enthusiasm and see how much I have learned in such a short
time, rather than focusing on the lack of experience or the fact that
I have a degree in English (I didn't know excellent language skills
were a potential red flag). I also believe that I have
responsibilities: I have to be willing to start somewhere, to learn
everything I can, to couple my enthusiasm with ability, and to keep
writing! So I would add that kind of personal dedication to the list
of predictive success factors.