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October meeting details...



Joe Welinske Webinar

TOUCH, VOICE AND GESTURES:
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 iFixit.com, 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. iFixit.com 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

Cherie

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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