Re: Newbie Blues

Subject: Re: Newbie Blues
From: "George F. Hayhoe" <george -at- ghayhoe -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>, <gus -at- landmarknet -dot- net>
Date: Mon, 25 Oct 1999 09:40:35 -0400

Gus Gustafson asked about telecommuting as an alternative
for a new technical communicator. Eric Ray and others have
offered some sound reasons why this wouldn't be a good move
for Gus or his potential employer.

However, I noticed that Gus's present location is Stoneham,
Maine. My gazetteer doesn't even list Stoneham, so I'm
guessing it's very small and probably not the next Silicon
Valley of New England. I'm also guessing that Gus finds
himself in a location where there's little or no opportunity
for a real-time gig and that, for whatever reason, he can't
relocate.

So the problem, I think, is how does a relatively
inexperienced person in our profession get a telecommuting
gig?

Here's the advice of a telecommuter in rural South Carolina:

1. Work on your resume. Check out the archives for lots of
good advice on making your resume an effective marketing
tool.

2. Get yourself some experience, even if it's pro bono.
There's plenty of work to be done out there, especially
among non-profits--a local school or community college that
needs user assistance products for its computer labs; a
church or social organization that needs a newsletter, etc.
This will give you additional credibility and more
experience--the more, the better.

3. Read everything you can about our profession (and about
building a contracting business) on this list and elsewhere
(books, STC and other professional society pubs, the
TECHWR-L archives and Web site, etc.). It's not a substitute
for experience, but it is a good supplement. Many of us were
mentored in this way when we were lone writers in real-time
jobs.

4. Identify companies in your area that could be potential
paying customers. These can be in the most amazing spots. (I
visited a new client last week at their $850 million
manufacturing facility that's surrounded by cotton fields.
It's a 2.5-hour drive from my location, but the need for
onsite work will be minimal, and it looks like an excellent
source of future business for me.) One major advantage as an
independent contractor in a rural state: although there's
less potential business, there's also considerably less
competition.

5. Though it's possible to build a contracting business from
a remote location when you have little experience, it's
going to be tough, and you would certainly find it easier if
you could become an onsite employee. Look carefully at
alternatives such as working in Boston and commuting to
Maine on weekends if you have an S.O. there. You might even
pre-screen potential employers by looking for companies that
encourage telecommuting.

--George Hayhoe (george -at- ghayhoe -dot- com)

George Hayhoe Associates
Voice: +1 (803) 642-2156
Fax: +1 (803) 642-9325
http://www.ghayhoe.com

Winner
APEX '99 Grand Award for Publication Excellence

Awards of Distinguished Technical Communication
South Carolina/Carolina Foothills STC Chapters
1998-99 Technical Publications Competition






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