Re: Degree

Subject: Re: Degree
From: Lisa MacDonald <lisam -at- DISCREET -dot- COM>
Date: Mon, 7 Dec 1998 11:15:49 -0500

BA, English Literature. That's it.
I tried for over a year to break in to the tech writing field with little
success. Having a degree listed on my CV did not impress anyone enough to
call me in for an interview. I had done book reviews, editing for a
literary journal, and had a very long list of computer skills. I supported
myself by working in a small office, performing what was supposed to be a
basic clerical position. I was the only one in the office who knew how to
operate a computer with considerable skill, so I became the designated
Windows/Office97/Internet trainer, and even wrote up a small Word manual
for office use. After responding to numerous ads for jobs, I finally got
some contract work for about a year. It wasn't until this contract job
appeared on my resume that I started to get calls for interviews. I am now
a full-time, non-contract software technical writer (whew!).
The moral of my little tale is this: get experience, no matter how
mundane or insignificant it seems at the time. Training an office on basic
computer skills is relevant to this field. Doing a few hours here and
there of contract work is also pertinent to an employer. I'm sure that
having a long list of academic credentials will catch some HR person's eye,
but actually having the words "technical writer" listed somewhere seems to
get your foot in the door.
Of course, living in Quebec, we get the added bonus of "Oh, great. But
can you translate documentation from French to English?". :)
Lisa MacDonald
Technical Writer, Advanced Systems
Montreal, Quebec

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