|So You Wannabe a Tech Writer?|
introduction to the profession for beginners and newcomers, this two-day workshop will
help you discover what the field may hold for you. Youll learn the top ten signs
that youll do well in this profession, take a quick look back at 2,000 years of
technical communication (from Euclid to you), then turn to the present, and explore the
many roles a technical communicator may play today. Youll learn whats involved
in technical communication, and whats not; what previous jobs will help you the
most, through skills transfer; and what career paths may be open to you within this
profession. At the end of the class, youll have a chance to identify the kind of
mentor youd like, and well make our best effort to locate an experienced
technical communicator who can give you advice as you enter the profession.
Youll explore the many worlds in which technical communicators workfrom government labs to startups, from Fortune 500 industries to freelance consulting.
Youll get a chance to try your hand at writing some of the most common documents a technical communicator works on: procedures, tutorials, job aids, reference, Web sites. Youll get a feel for the material you may begin with, and youll see samples of finished documentation.
Youll spend a virtual day in the life of a technical communicator. Youll see how your work fits into a product life cycle, or research cycle; youll get to try out some of the many tools a technical communicator has to use, in an average day. Youll look at a styleguide like the ones so many writers have to follow; youll practice interviewing subject matter experts and users; and youll get a chance to put together the pieces of a document design.
Youll learn how we measure our work, in an effort to improve quality. And youll ponder some case studies that raise ethical issues you may face on the job.
Finally, youll get your reward. Youll learn how pay varies from one part of the country to another, from one type of organization to another, and from entry level to senior levels. Youll also begin to get a sense of some of the less tangible rewards you get from clarifying complex subject matter, and helping people use new technology.
By the end of the workshop, youll have learned at least 100 industry terms, so youll be able to understand insider talk, when you meet people who are already working in the field.
At the end of the two days, you will be able to:
The Top 10 Signs Youll Do Well in This Professioninformal indicators of success. If you have these characteristics, youll probably enjoy technical communication.
Where We Came From2,000 years of technical communication, from Euclid to you. A whirlwind tour of precursors of our profession, from Renaissance advice books, and Puritan sermons through the writings of early scientists, and the handbooks of engineers through the nineteenth century. The impact of World War II, consumer advocacy, environmentalism, the self-help and do-it-yourself movements, and marketing.
What We Do NowThe many hats a technical communicator may wear. Although writing and editing remain at the core of the profession, we are often required to create graphics, design layouts, whip up user interfaces, write scripts, and architect thousands of chunks of information for random access. We may work alone, or on a team; in a central pool, or on loan to a project team; on staff, or freelance. Thats a lot of hats.
The Many Mad, Wonderful Worlds of TCwhere you might work, who you might write for. How technical communication changes as you move from one industry to another, or from government agencies to scientific labs.
Where We Draw the Linehow we see ourselves as different from similar or related professions, such as public relations, marketing, academic teaching, art, programming, or the literary life.
Professions Its Good to Have Come Fromhow skills learned in teaching, journalism, programming, training, and a half dozen other professions can give you a leg up on technical communication. Youre not doomed if you come from some other field, but these definitely give you experience you can apply right away.
What You Produceheres a chance to do a little writing in some of the genres you may encounter as a technical communicator, such as procedures, tutorials, job aids, proposals, reference, help, and web sites.
A Day in the Lifehow you fit into a product or research life cycle, what kinds of tools youll probably have to learn to use, how to adapt yourself to the rules of thumb in a styleguide, how to interview people, how to prepare a document design, and, briefly, how to collaborate, hold a meeting, track progress.
Taking Our Measurehow technical communicators measure quality, what standards we set ourselves, and what ethical issues we have to face.
The Rewardshow payscales vary around the country, what you learn just by working as a technical communicator, how you help users, and your own organization.
Talk the Talka summary in the form of a glossary of key terms you will need, in order to chat with people in the field.
Sign up now for this two-day workshop at the University of California, Santa Cruz, Extension, in their Santa Clara classrooms, December 5-6, 1998.
We are always glad to customize a workshop for a particular group or setting. Please call Jonathan at 505 898-4912 to get more details.
Copyright 1998 Jonathan and Lisa Price, The Communication Circle
Return to our site at http://www.theprices.com/circle
Email us at JonPrice@AOL.com