Re: Newbie Blues

Subject: Re: Newbie Blues
From: "Eric J. Ray" <ejray -at- raycomm -dot- com>
To: gus -at- landmarknet -dot- net
Date: Sun, 24 Oct 1999 10:53:59 -0600


> Any advice for a recent Technical Writing grad looking to work from home?
> Is it impossible or do I just need to be more persistent?

Here's my two cents to add to the other good points already made...

It's darn unlikely. Even given extensive experience, a proven and
well-known track record, and demonstrable ability to work effectively
from home (which many people cannot do, for either technical or personal
reasons), it's a hard gig to find.

That said, as someone who has been working from home for 4 years,
(as a contractor, author, and "real" employee), a hardcore advocate
of telecommuting, and a strong believer that you don't have to
have your butt in a particular chair at 9am to be working, I'd
be most skeptical about hiring a "recent Technical Writing grad"
to work from home. Here's why:

It's a potential technical nightmare for all concerned. It takes
a fair amount of technical expertise to work effectively from home
sporadically, let alone daily. I do it, and I've been in the unfortunate
position of trying to help those who simply shouldn't have tried,
and it can be horrid.

It's a potential getting-the-job-done nightmare. Technical communicators
need not be onsite to write, but also cannot work in a vacuum. If I were
guessing, I'd say that of a 48 hour work week, I probably spend under 20
hours actually writing/editing/reviewing, and the balance on
using the systems I'm writing about, researching the systems, or
interacting with other writers or with engineers about the project/systems/
etc.

It's a potential management nightmare. Remote employees must be able to
get the job done, on time, no matter what, AND to let people know when
problems come up. First, your management needs to have confidence in your
ability to do both of these, and second, management needs to have some level
of confidence that if problems do come up, they're not a result of you
not working onsite.

I could go on for paragraphs about each of these potential issues, but
will just close by saying that I'd not hire someone explicitly
to work remotely starting immediately unless
* they were a known quantity
* they had a skill set that was hard to find and I needed _RIGHT_NOW_
In general, I can't imagine a newbie writer meeting those criteria.

Good luck,
Eric




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