Mid-level TW blues

Subject: Mid-level TW blues
From: Matt Danda <mdanda2 -at- YAHOO -dot- COM>
Date: Thu, 17 Sep 1998 14:04:57 -0700


I've been struck by a case of mid-level tech writing blues, and I am
wondering if any other writers feel the same--or at least are asking
the same questions about their career direction.

I am beginning to feel that I have reached a plateau as a technical
writer, after four-and-a-half years of solid experience with good
companies, decent projects, and steady raises.

I read a quote recently from a recruiter who said, "Some tech writers
with 20 years of experience actually have one year of experience 20
times." I found this very profound, and as a result I have taken a
better look at my own career path and the opportunities ahead.

I am currently interviewing for other jobs because I don't feel that I
am adequately challenged in my current project. The pay is great, but
the experience is so-so. Anyway, I have thus far been turned down
twice by reputable companies due to money. In one case, the company
laughed at my current rate (thinking I was lying), and the other
company decided to promote an "associate" tech writer instead,
presumably at a much lower rate.

As a new, ambitous, and green tech writer, I jumped at any opportunity
to increase skills and pay. Now, with almost five years of experience,
I am not finding as many unique and exciting opportunities. Maybe the
"been-there, done-that" attitude isn't appropriate, but I was
certainly caught off-gaurd by being passed over for someone younger
and cheaper. (I hope this has no correlation to recently awakening to
the fact that I am closer to 30 than to 21).

So, when I begin my fifth year as a technical writer, will it simply
be my first year, for the fifth time? Sure, the product will be
slightly different, the writing tool a little more advanced, and the
medium could be online or print or telepathic...but the core
responsibilities and accountabilities could very well be the same--for
the fifth time in a row.

I yearn for a management position, for advancement, for the excitement
of doing something new and risky. Now that I've broken in to the
industry and built a great resume, what can I do to keep up the

Management positions seem to be so rare! I've met lots of team
leaders, but only a precious few technical writers with real
management responsibilities. Should I return to school for a masters
in computer science, or business, or technical writing?

Does anyone out there ask the same questions? Does anyone have advice?
Hmm...I recognize the risk in writing this posting as I concurrently
send resumes to various companies--but hey, I like to take risks


Matthew Danda
Technical Writer in Software Development
Orlando, Florida

Get your free @yahoo.com address at http://mail.yahoo.com

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