Re: What Defines "Entry-Level"?

Subject: Re: What Defines "Entry-Level"?
From: Dan Brinegar <vr2link -at- VR2LINK -dot- COM>
Date: Tue, 21 Apr 1998 13:09:35 -0700

On Tue, 21 Apr 1998 01:43:28 -0700, "Jeffrey W. Roberts"
<pptcscriv -at- cyber-quest -dot- com> Wrote:

>Specifically, when one is seeking to enter the technical communications
>field, what defines "Entry-Level"?

As most others have said, "Entry-Level" varies by application.

Let's assume Jeff doesn't have a whole lot of hardware, software,
automotive, or computer experience... for gigs writing about such subjects,
maybe he'd qualify as entry-level. I don't doubt he could take on an
entry-level job, and as a literate, educated and trainable fellow become a
full-fledged TECHWHirLer during his first gig.

How to get that first gig?

There are occassions when an agency will place anybody-with-a-heartbeat in
a job... [rant deleted - see 14 Dec 97 rant on "doc specialists vs.
techwriters" for details]. My first job after the Army (while in college,
before I started techwriting) was scanning-in a gazillion documents for
some lawsuit -- I read too fast, I guess, and learned wayy too much about
coal-fired powerplants. I also learned tons about doc management, and
converting physically-structured documents(file boxes full of paper) into
electronically structured ones (30,000 docs on CD, and guess where that
knowlege took me). This was not the sort of job you would normally expect
to find a Cavalry Scout/Machinist/Teletype
Operator/Mechanic/Sarge-who-almost-never-yells. I could type and knew what
TQM was, so ya never know.

But, y'know, every few months (let's say twice a year at least) I get a
call for someone with *heavy* medical and/or legal background to do what
the agency describes as "techwriting." I don't know why they call me, it's
my brother who's the biochemist, and if they got a hit from the thing on my
resume about "document management systems for Litigation Support","
well.... [rant deleted]. See if your local STC chapter has an "Insider's
Guide" to the local job market (Phoenix' does), and start contacting
businesses that specialize in medical and/or legal docs or products --
you're in!

Or, armed with literacy, a desire to work, a copy of _What Color is your
Parachute_ and any big-city Sunday paper, you just might score a job right

Spend an extra coupla weeks and surf <> and the othe
"" sort of sites that show up on, say, the _Excite_ homepage,
tailor a bunch of different resumes for different fields you're interested
in, and post 'em! [Thanks to Chris Hamilton for this tip: you *do* get
dozens of calls within the first couple of weeks].

If you have the extra time and can afford to; take the time to burn thru
some community college classes on operating systems [lotsa
open-entry/open-exit UN*X and NT beginning- admin courses in our CC

Still have time and Wanna learn more about the 'Net? If you were able to
get online with only one or two calls to techsupport, Quick-and-dirty: find
a local startup Internet Service Provider, and get a quick gig doing
techsupport and polishing the user-manuals/web pages -- you won't make
much money, but you'll gain invaluable experience in 'Netting,
understanding what users need and want ( doing a Vulcan Mind-Meld over the
phone with the poor slob who just bought a no-name PC & Modem and doesn't
know the difference between upper- and lowercase will lead to an
almost-intuitive understanding of how-people-think). Be advised that most
*good* techsupport Bobs burn out in 9 to 18 months, and most *average* TSBs
vanish within three months -- this is OK -- McDonalds has huge employee
turnover, too... the having-a-heartbeat phenomenon again ;-)

In some cases, Jeff, yer not-at-all an entry-level sort, and even so;
breaking out of that entry-level can take from a couple of weeks to a year:
I think that for jobs that are worth doing, the employer will appreciate
varied experience -- automatically thinking out of the box, 'cos you never
got in it -- Think dodecahedral 8-)

The gate isn't locked, you just haven't found the hole in the fence yet ;-)

Freelancing? What do you *love* to do? What are your hobbies? Need
technically-slanted clippings for your portfolio? Find a small magazine
about your hobby (or a newsletter, whatever) and just *hammer* them with
proposals and submissions. Getr enough of those clips, and move up to the
bigger mags ( I planned to write about cars, y'know, when I walked into
not-just a fence, but a brick wall called freshman english [Rant Deleted]
floundering momentarily, I ended up in an open meadow ( Techwriting and the

[List regulars, if you haven't noticed, or would be kind enough to allow me
to gloat: YES! this post is more positively RAH_RAH than most of my posts
-- I just got another job with that favourite former boss, working from
home, conceivably with six different job-titles <snoopydance>]

May the Force be with you,

Performance S u p p o r t Svcs.
Phoenix, Arizona

"This is not a burned-out techwriter...
it's an Evangelical Geek-Synthesist."

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