TechWhirl (TECHWR-L) is a resource for technical writing and technical communications professionals of all experience levels and in all industries to share their experiences and acquire information.
For two decades, technical communicators have turned to TechWhirl to ask and answer questions about the always-changing world of technical communications, such as tools, skills, career paths, methodologies, and emerging industries. The TechWhirl Archives and magazine, created for, by and about technical writers, offer a wealth of knowledge to everyone with an interest in any aspect of technical communications.
Subject:Re: Interns@ $10 an hour From:Dan BRINEGAR <vr2link -at- VR2LINK -dot- COM> Date:Fri, 12 Dec 1997 18:26:58 -0700
>Of course, the other explanation is that the
>company budgets $10/hour for an "intern"
>to do advanced clerical duties, reformat
>documents that others wrote, and take
>care of running errands and fetching
>coffee. That's what gives internships a
>bad name and wastes everyone's time.
Funny, it's not just internships where ya end up doing that <smile>.
Based on the job description for the "highly qualified techwriter" an
agency called me about a couple of months ago, I said that it sounded like
the stuff I did five years ago, and usually make at least double the rate
they quoted; figuring it'd be the last I'd ever hear from that agency.
Two weeks later, [long personal story deleted] the agency calls up and sez
they got the higher rate -- will I start the next day? [Reiteration of long
personal story deleted].
Day 1) -- to project leader -- "I thought y'all needed a techwriter for
Day 1.5) "You *do* need a techwriter for this project, cos yer
'Engineer/Authors' sure can't write!"
Day 2) "I'm missing _Pinky and the Brain_ for this?"
Day 3) -- in the department manager's cube --
ME: "Is *This* all you've got for me to do till this project's over?
This is not techwriting, y'know [shaking hand-scribbled changes on the
fifth version of the same chapter this week]."
MANAGER: "You're a techwriter? We didn't need a techwriter, just a
documentation specialist. What incompetent boob sent you here?"
Day 3) -- at the agency offices --
AGENCY MUFFIN: "Why didn't you just tell us you didn't wanna do the job
before you started?"
ME: "I *told* you I didn't do simple reformatting when ya first called...
There's a difference between doc specialists and techwriters: and *you*
insisted they needed a techwriter."
AGENCY MUFFIN: "Well but *now* we look incompetent ..."
--Moral of the Story/Explicit Relevance to Life as a Technical Communicator--
1) After you've explained the differences between what a techwriter and a
doc specialist do, have the agency personnel repeat it back to you *in
their own words* and keep doing that till they get it. [$ELSE goto ITEM
2) Explicitly *state* that you won't do a particular kind of job: don't
assume the agency will understand the fact that normally making at least
twice the rate they're quoting means you do something more advanced.
3) Never take a job you'll hate -- no matter *how* hungry you are: you'll
be at work hating what you do while Bill Gates or Steve Jobs is leaving a
message on your answering machine at home saying "Really wanted to schedule
an interview this afternoon: Sorry I missed you."
4) Don't waste time with the clueless agencies that won't accept the
benefit of the information you offer them: Go ahead and burn that bridge
*before* you've wasted a week or a month (or ended up burning a bridge with
Dan BRINEGAR, CCDB Vr2Link
Performance S u p p o r t Svcs.