[no subject]

From: pete swisher <PSwisher -at- QUARK -dot- COM>
Date: Wed, 12 May 1999 17:14:01 -0600

Karen,

I think the majority of tech writers have had the same problem. Here's what
I had to do.

* After receiving my BA in English in 96, I decided to move from
Central NY to CO. (first hint, poor job market to great job market)
* After finding out that I was only qualified to manage pizza joints,
which I had done through college, I was despondent for 3 months. (second
hint, be true to yourself and take a load off after finishing school)
* After getting PO'd at being unemployed, I decided to try anything. I
started working for a temp agency. I treated them with respect, was a good
employee, so they gave me the best jobs they had. These jobs were light
years from the fun I now have as a tech writer, but they were a good start.
I eventually worked my way up to sorting stacks of paper alphabetically
(amidst the snickering of the "full-time" employees around me). I'm talking
about thousands of papers. Eventually I made friends with someone who had
the extra assignment of creating a Disaster Recovery plan for the whole
organization. She was a computer science major who didn't like to write.
(third hint, take advantage of every opportunity early on)
* I volunteered to write the plan. It wasn't true volunteering, since
I had to ask permission of my supe to do so. He agreed since I was really
quick about taking care of the important stuff, like sorting papers. I told
my temp agency about my new responsibility and they felt they should ask for
more money for me (read, for them too). I said no. I was lucky to get the
chance to write something and be paid for it. I didn't want the opportunity
taken away. I wrote the plan, it wasn't great, but I wrote it. (fourth hint,
take advantage of every opportunity)
* This mutual fund company eventually offered me a full-time paper
sorter job, but I declined. I took a new job, through my temp service, at a
software company. (fifth hint, start working in an industry with growth
potential)
* I worked in a customer service department for a long time. I kissed
some butt with the secretary in HR and got early info on the new job
requisitions. After 9 months, an actual entry-level tech writing position
opened up. I used my project at the mutual fund company and my experience at
this software company as the basis of my application. I got the job. It was
a temp job, but I was the company's temp, not the agencies. So, during my
negotiations, I just asked the company to pay me what they were paying the
agency. Believe me, it was a relatively hefty increase. (sixth hint, do what
you love, even if you're not very good at it at the moment. It will pay off
eventually.)
* I worked hard and was eventually offered a full-time tech writers
position. My responsibilities as a tech writer and my knowledge of software
technologies have increased ever since.
*
Pete

> -----Original Message-----
> I am a university student and I am finding it hard to get a technical
> writing job because i do not have any experience. How am I supposed to
> get experience if nobody will give me a chance? Does anyone have any
> suggestions?
>


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