Re: What Defines "Entry-Level"?

Subject: Re: What Defines "Entry-Level"?
From: "Jelinek, Jennifer" <JJelinek -at- PLYMOUTHWATER -dot- COM>
Date: Tue, 21 Apr 1998 11:02:56 -0500

Some tech writing students may have a greater "grasp" of reality than some
English majors, some may not. Some English majors may be better able to see
the "big picture" and not get bogged down in minutaie. Some may not. All
writing is it journalism, tech writing, marketing writing,
online writing. In school the English major rips on the journalism major's
questionable writing abilities, the journalism major rip on the English
major's long-windedness, and the tech writer jokes about how neither is
going to get a job, so what's the difference? The point is, all three are
pigeonholing. A good marketing writer can be a good tech writer and
vice-versa...just as someone with a tech writing degree may be a lousy tech
writer. Computer programs can be learned, techniques honed...and what's to
say an English major who learned to write in "legalese" couldn't just as
easily learn to document computer software...they're both about learning
subject matter, terminology and writing styles, after all. As someone who's
hired employees in the past, I look for experience certainly, but also for
demonstrated growth potential and versatility. The world is changing to fast
to select candiates soley for what they can do today...what about how
they'll adapt for tomorrow?

Jennifer Jelinek
Marketing Services Manager
Plymouth Products, Inc. Sheboygan, WI
jjelinek -at- plymouthwater -dot- com

> -----Original Message-----
> From: Wendy Putman [SMTP:wputman -at- CASTLETON -dot- COM]
> Sent: Tuesday, April 21, 1998 10:36 AM
> To: TECHWR-L -at- LISTSERV -dot- OKSTATE -dot- EDU
> Subject: Re: What Defines "Entry-Level"?
> 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
> professions.
> 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
> >
> >
> ~

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