Re: Graduate Degree Programs? (aka Telecommuting)

Subject: Re: Graduate Degree Programs? (aka Telecommuting)
From: Nina Panzica <panin -at- MINDSPRING -dot- COM>
Date: Mon, 28 Jun 1999 15:12:06 -0400

>---> QUESTION: Does a graduate degree really *improve* the possibility of
>securing a telecommuting postion, or is this a simple way of saying,
>you're nuts!" Does anyone out there have any experience with this?

I don't know if a graduate degree will improve the possibility of securing a
telecommuting position, although it may make it slightly easier to secure
technical writing positions in general. Still, I wouldn't think the degree
would be worth the money (tuition and loss of earnings for the years in
which you obtained the degree) in the long run, given the fact that
technical writing jobs are so plentiful at this time.

Here are a few things that I've noticed, as a telecommuter, increase your
chances of finding such positions:

1. Apply for instructional design jobs. For some reason, I've noticed that
these positions more often involve telecommuting than technical writing.

2. Play the "numbers" game: apply at every local agency and company who work
with technical writers that you can. The more organizations who know about
you, the more jobs you'll be called about.

3. Tell each organization in your first contact that you are interested in
telecommuting opportunities, but are flexible. Do your negotiating for the
telecommuting at the end of those interviews in which the client seems very
interested in you.

4. Be flexible: In my proposals to clients, I always offer two to four weeks
of fully onsite work to learn the job and then go to mostly telecommuting
(with visits to their site whenever necessary). This gives the company time
to get comfortable with you. This onsite time span is for contracting work.
I don't know what you should offer in this regard for a permanent job.

5. Don't apply for those jobs that talk a lot about your need to be a team
member or sit in on lots of meetings or speak with various groups to gather
information, as these are onsite activities. Also, positions in which you're
documenting a mainframe or AS/400 application are much less likely to allow
you to telecommute than ones in which you can take the software home and
load it on your PC--although it still can be doing. While many companies are
too security conscious to give you remote access to their systems (at least
they won't if you're a contractor), you can usually find a way in which to
do intensive online research and note-taking and screen captures from the
client site a day or two a week and then go home and write up your raw
materials the rest of the week.

6. If you can do so, apply for permanent positions rather than contract
positions. Companies that would never consider letting a contractor
telecommute will often let their permanent employees do so.

7. Search out positions in other cities and states in which the work can be
done "remotely," i.e. from your home office in your city. I've worked
remotely from Atlanta for firms in Chicago and Canada.

8. Join those organizations that post a lot of telecommuting and remote
jobs. You have to search these out on the Web and it is a time-consuming
process, but two big (and legitimate) ones that I know of are:

(a) Independent Homeworkers Alliance:

(b) National Writers Union:

9. Offer companies an incentive for hiring a telecommuter: give them a
discount on your hourly rate or yearly salary for work that you can do from
your home.

Nina Panzica
Masterpiece Media, Inc.

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