February 2016 Meeting Panel Discussion
Working as a Technical Communicator
A range of writing topics were covered: networking, skills needed to succeed, writing specializations (medical, proposal, and web). Panelists also discussed what it’s like to change careers and enter into the wide ranging and interesting field of technical writing.
Lily discussed moving into technical communication after over a decade as an automotive service technician (aka a car mechanic). She covered future goals, positive experiences, and challenges, including the pay gap between men and women, and age discrimination. Lily emphasized:
- Try to be positive and have a good attitude
- Put yourself out there
- Make your own work samples for a portfolio
- Write tech comm articles even before you have someone to publish them
- Keep learning
Gayle Warner & Carolyn Witthuhn
Gayle describes herself as an introvert, who used her own networking skills to find her job. She looked up “medical device companies” on Google Maps and located companies in the Twin Cities. Then she looked through her LinkedIn contacts and found someone she knew at one of these companies. This connection led to her current job.
Carolyn had some difficulty breaking into the field, because she didn’t get her B.A. until she was 42. She explained that her extroverted nature helps her network and find work. She is always ready to hand out her business card and share her story.
Both Gayle and Carolyn advocated for:
- Being prepared and asking questions
- Knowing your qualifications and being ready to explain them
- Attending job fairs, STC meetings, and job networking groups
Alex is a professional grant writer and a professor at Metro State University. She described her job, what is involved in getting grants, and the opportunities available for grant writing.
Lisa explained that globalization requires translation and localization of technical content into multiple languages. Managing the expense of translation and localization includes best practices for writing content, because you pay for every word.