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Next Meeting:

May 8th 6:30-8:30

Adding Change Management Concepts to Your Toolbox

Linda Urban
Speaker: Linda Urban

Learning to use new technologies, equipment, or software requires that people change how they do things. Research on change has shown that people go through stages as they experience a change and transition to something new. 

 Much of the time, user assistance, instruction, and other tech comm deliverables are written with the assumption that people are either ready to learn a product, or already using a product, and in search of answers to questions. But the stage when people are ready to use something — "ready to adopt" in change management lingo — is actually fairly far along the adoption curve.

Click here to sign up...

Sac Train

All Aboard! the STC Field Trip to the California State Railroad Museum!

Calling all Northern California STC members and friends to a day at the California Railroad Museum in Old Sacramento with the STC Sacramento Metro chapter.

See restored locomotives and cars, and exhibits that illustrate how the railroad shaped the unique culture and economy of California and the West. Included are a Pullman-style sleeping car, a dining car filled with railroad china, and a Railway Post Office.

Meet and tour the museum before having lunch at Joe's Crab Shack, a short walk from the museum.

When: April 26th 11:30
Where: California State Railroad Museum Second and "I" Street, Old Sacramento
Museum ticket: $10 No host lunch Transportation: Amtrak from San Jose is $80.

The museum is a short walk from the Sacramento Amtrak Station at 401 I St.

If you drive, you can park in the Old Sacramento Garage across from the museum for a small fee.

Register and prepay by April 25th here...

Joe Welinske Webinar

How to Craft Your User Assistance to Accommodate a Variety of Interaction Types.

For those who missed it, have no fear, click here!

Letter from the President

To all new Tech Comm grads:

What a great field you've chosen. I've had a most interesting career. The best thing about it is it spans every industry, which allows you to learn about the most fascinating technology--at least you can work in a field that you find most interesting.

My favorite aspect of my chosen field, high tech, is that during development, I represent the end user. I get to push every button and click every link, comment on the look and feel of software interfaces, and design the help interface and corporate templates  -- and get paid for it! Another aspect is that I'm constantly learning new technologies, new tools, and new ways of presenting information to better my user's experience.

I've found the best way to enter the market is through networking and signing on with placement agencies. This is especially true when contracting because many corporations only work through agencies.

I also can't recommend highly enough, networking at your local STC chapter. When I moved to the Sacramento area, I went to the very next meeting. I met two women who had left Intel to start their own placement agency. They secured me a full-time position in less than 2 weeks. Of course, I had experience.

At STC Summit 2013, a woman I'm currently mentoring attended free as a student member, and met 5 prospective employers. She's re-purposing her legal career to Tech Comm, and has a great desire to live abroad, especially in the EU. After the Summit, she had interviews with an EU company, a Korean company, Los Alamos National Laboratory (which is very exciting), and two companies in the Bay Area.

For a certified education, STC is expensive but has prestige. A local junior college (American River College) has a certification program, and I have mentored some of their students--and I have my TC certification from De Anza College. I'm sure there are online programs available. However, I would say learn tools. The more pertinent applications and languages (DOS, wiki, java script, etc.) that you have on your resume, the more keywords pop up for headhunters, and of course you're much more marketable. Almost every software company has tutorials, either on YouTube, Facebook, or through their own web sites. And through STC. For example, tonight my chapter is holding an Information Mapping webinar. Tools make you eminently marketable.

Then there's the volunteer route. Just start writing for, wikiHow, eHow, etc., or make instructional videos and post them on YouTube. I mention these websites because they all have "topics needed" lists, if your topic posts it goes on your resume, and it's more experience. I used to recommend documenting a piece of freeware or shareware, but writing for these types of websites is better. has been running student programs at university Engineering and English schools. They provide students with a documentation package and have a great proprietary tool. That's who I would write for if I was just looking for experience.

On books, I'd search the web for corporate style guides. Even old Microsoft style guides will provide great principles. If you're buying, I recommend at minimum the Microsoft style guide, the current Chicago Manual of Style, and a Strunk and White for reference. Here's what's handy on my shelf:

  • Sisson's Synonyms
  • Managing Enterprise Content (Rockley)
  • Read Me First! (Sun)
  • A Style Guide for the Computer Industry
  • Manual of Style for Technical Publications (MS)
  • Chicago Manual of Style, 15th addition
  • Hodge's Harbrace Handbook
  • The only Grammar Book You'll Ever Need
  • The new language in International Business (that's the capitalization of the title)
  • Strunk & White


STC advances the theory and practice of technical communication across all user abilities and media so that both businesses and customers benefit from safe, appropriate, and effective use of products, information, and services.


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