Re: What Defines "Entry-Level"?

Subject: Re: What Defines "Entry-Level"?
From: Wendy Putman <wputman -at- CASTLETON -dot- COM>
Date: Tue, 21 Apr 1998 08:36:27 -0700

Comparing tech writing to preparing legal briefs (coming from a law
background, I feel I can speak to the subject) is akin to comparing a
dental surgeon to a heart surgeon. They're both fine professions, and
they're both in the field of surgery, but don't send me a dentist to
work on my heart, thank you. They're two distinct, parallel-path

On a similar note, one of our local universities is promoting their
English majors for co-op placements. They say their students are capable
of, among other things, "writing a user manual" during their four month
stint. One documentation manager commented -- he'd interviewed both tech
writing students and "generic" English majors -- commented that tech
writing students had a better grasp of reality.

Just $0.02 from a tech writer about to conduct job interviews for a
co-op placement ...

Wendy Putman, Technical Writer
Castleton Network Systems, Burnaby, BC
Tel: (604) 293-0039 / Internal: 722-5432
Email: wputman -at- castleton -dot- com

> -----Original Message-----
> From: Jeffrey W. Roberts [SMTP:pptcscriv -at- cyber-quest -dot- com]
> Sent: Tuesday, April 21, 1998 1:43 AM
> To: TECHWR-L -at- LISTSERV -dot- OKSTATE -dot- EDU
> Subject: What Defines "Entry-Level"?
> Hello to TECHWR-L! I've been a lurker on the list for a couple of
> months
> and have learned an enormous amount from the postings here. I'm
> casting
> about (helplessly, it seems, sometimes) for some career direction, and
> would appreciate any insight from the assembled wisdom of this list.
> Specifically, when one is seeking to enter the technical
> communications
> field, what defines "Entry-Level"?
> As background, I have a BA in journalism and English (Indiana
> University, 1992). I've made my living as a writer since about 1990,
> starting out as a newspaper reporter. For about five years, I worked
> for as an appeals writer for a company specializing in Social Security
> disability work. When someone was turned down for benefits, my job
> was
> to write an administrative law appeal detailing why the person should
> indeed be considered medically disabled and why the Administrative Law
> Judge erred in applying either evidence or law. It was a unique
> position, though soul-draining. I would call it a type of technical
> writing, as it involved careful analysis, comprehension, and
> application
> of often complex medical -and- legal issues. Since July of last year,
> when the appeals job went south, I've been trying to make a go of a
> freelance writing and editorial concern, which hasn't really gotten
> off
> the ground. Not much call for writers and editors in NE Pennsylvania,
> I
> guess.
> So I'm no raw recruit fresh off campus; I've made a buck or two off my
> writing and editing. I have some authentic, hard-earned experience.
> BUT...I've never documented hardware or software, or done many of the
> things that other breeds of technical writers do on a daily basis. I
> want to. Tech writing seems promising, and reasonbly well rewarded.
> I'm computer savvy, and I'm working hard to teach myself the tools and
> workings of the TC trade. I want to learn how to do it and believe I
> -can-. But I don't yet have direct experience in these forms of
> writing.
> In terms of the tech writing field, then, -am- I only at entry level,
> and should those be the types of positions I aim for? Or am I better
> off because of my degree and several years' experience, even though
> I've
> never documented a program or written a white paper? If a job posting
> asks for five years' experience in technical writing, would I be
> deluded
> in thinking I have it, or at least some level of background that
> translates into an ability to write on complex subjects for a living?
> I've read with great interest the recent posts about hiring practices
> and difficulties getting jobs, as I am feeling that same type of
> frustration very acutely. Tech writing seems to be a field of
> tremendous opportunity to which, for me, the gate is locked. I would
> be
> grateful for any advice or insight, and will be happy to post a
> summary
> of responses to the list.
> Thank you.
> --Jeff Roberts
> pptcscriv -at- cyber-quest -dot- com
> &^~~~
> Send commands to listserv -at- listserv -dot- okstate -dot- edu (e.g., SIGNOFF
> Find TECHWR-L-related books at

Previous by Author: Re: Child care as a travel expense
Next by Author: Child care as a travel expense
Previous by Thread: Re: What Defines "Entry-Level"?
Next by Thread: Re: What Defines "Entry-Level"?

What this post helpful? Share it with friends and colleagues:

Sponsored Ads