Newbie in Houston

Subject: Newbie in Houston
From: Jo Baer <jbaer -at- mailbox1 -dot- tcfbank -dot- com>
To: April <pix_l -at- geocities -dot- com>, Techwriter List <TECHWR-L -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Fri, 05 Nov 1999 12:13:43 -0600


I asked a friend (who isn't on this list) in Houston if he had any tips
for you. He was kind enough to take the time to put together what I
think is some very useful information.

Jo would you kindly consider posting this to the list?

Melanie and Maria and Zach this is just FYI.

-----Original Message-----
From: Deyo, Steve
Sent: Thursday, November 04, 1999 4:48 PM
To: 'pix_l -at- geocities -dot- com'
Subject: FW: [Fwd: Newbie in Houston (What do I do?)]


As you can see, a friend sent this to me for possible comment. The
here might be that you may have friends you havent met yet. I love your
email address BTW.

I do like talking with persons who are new to the field--it's all so
(and none of us should ever grow stale)! Here are the briefest comments
can make:

1. If you ever find a contract position that lasts more than 3-6 months,
youve come as close to what "real" employees call job security as you
will while youre a part of the "contingent workforce." I'm at Compaq,
no sane person lasts for more than three months anyway!

2. Please dont tell me youre working for CoreComm.

3. Recruiters place contractors and employees, but I suspect the
are more likely to get a job offer. Working for a contract firm is like
making your career out of not being an employee. Either way works

4. After I got to Houston, I signed on with nearly every recruiter in
About a half dozen actually interviewed me, and three sent me to client
companies to interview. Nothing ever came of it, but I found a few
recruiters that are really on the ball. (Other end of the food chain
you, though.)

5. Don't expect a recruiter or contract firm to write you a meal ticket.
win positions and success by representing yourself well and constantly
growing in your field.

6. "Keep on sowing your seed, for you never know which one will grow;
this one, maybe that; or maybe they all will." (Ecclesiastes)

7. I know they exist, but I can't see why a firm with any self respect
hire a tech writer without a four-year degree. (Sorry.) Run, don't walk,
your nearest diploma mill and get yourself a liberal arts education.
it with a technical edge as much as possible, but don't get an
degree unless you want to do something completely different. The exact
never seems to matter so long as you know how to THINK and ASK

8. Some schools offer technical writing degrees. Get one that is
with the times: It expects you to use FrameMaker and RoboHelp, addresses
on-line (disk-based) as well as online (intranet) help systems, and
information mapping or some similar model.

9. PageMaker is for wussie corporate dweebs. If you ever tell a tech
that PageMaker is as good as FrameMaker, you may have a fight on your
Both good programs, mind you, but a bit like comparing a steak knife
with a
Swiss Army knife. Real designers use Quark XPress (or, possibly now,

10. If you can learn a new software program over breakfast, you'll do
in this field. If you keep forgetting how to select a cell range to
print in
Excel, try something farther from the front line.

11. Learn to eat stress and deadlines for lunch.

12. Schmooze and make professional friends with everyone you can. What's
called networking when you're new to the field is simply how you do your
once you've arrived.

13. Be a real person that others can respect. Get to know and like
and others will too.

14. Learn to write and edit economically. Develop a lean style. Know
audience and always write with them in mind.

I guess that's enough for now. It's an exciting field, welcome to it.

I should say that I work for Kitba Consulting Services (
an excellent firm and I'm sure the owners would be happy to receive your

Steve Deyo

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