TechWhirl (TECHWR-L) is a resource for technical writing and technical communications professionals of all experience levels and in all industries to share their experiences and acquire information.
For two decades, technical communicators have turned to TechWhirl to ask and answer questions about the always-changing world of technical communications, such as tools, skills, career paths, methodologies, and emerging industries. The TechWhirl Archives and magazine, created for, by and about technical writers, offer a wealth of knowledge to everyone with an interest in any aspect of technical communications.
-> As a newbie, career-changing, wannabe technical writer, I was hoping
-> there might be some experienced writers in the software industry who
-> would have some advice for a doctoral-level educator with a
-> certificate in technical writing (UW) who is trying to get into the
-> software industry.
Faced with the "Can't get a job without experience, can't get experience
without a job" problem that so many new grads face, I found two solutions:
1) Volunteer for anything remotely applicable, whether it pays or not. It
gets your name
and your work known. (I even stooped to a bit of ghost writing in
exchange for layout
experience with a local "yellow rag".)
2) Look for the companies who pay poorly and have high turnover; they are
unlikely to be
fun -- but they are more likely to be willing to try an unknown
quantity and it will get your
foot in the door. Expect trouble, and start looking soon after you
start work. (Think of it
as "paying dues" or your "apprentice period".) One you're working, you
can use the
experience to trade up. (That's what sweatshops are for, right?)
What it amounts to is "never stop looking for an opportunity--and you'll
never stop finding them."
Using this philosophy I've increased my income by $48k per year in the 5
years since leaving college.