Re: TW and education (was Re: Houston Area Jobs)

Subject: Re: TW and education (was Re: Houston Area Jobs)
From: "Wing, Michael J" <mjwing -at- INGR -dot- COM>
Date: Tue, 10 Dec 1996 09:09:17 -0600


>And it's not just the profession of technical communication that this
>is true. Not too many companies that I've heard of are hiring high
>school grads for accounting positions, no matter how good their
>"bookkeeping" grades were in high school.

>In the final analysis, I suppose it depends on whether you consider
>technical communication a profession or just a job that only
>requires the ability to form a coherent sentence ( a view that many
>employers have taken in the past).

>Jane Bergen

These are kind of black-or-white statements. The association that I
made reading this reply was:

College course work specifically in TW = technical communication a

College course work in a discipline other than TW and/or OJT = job that
only requires ability to form a coherent statement.

If these are the intended associations, I disagree. A glaring omission
in this discussion is the amount of product/subject knowledge that the
candidate brings into the interview. I mentioned that one writer I
worked with has a degree in Geography. As a generic Technical Writer
this may not seem to be a big plus. However, the product line she
interviewed for was for software that produced Maps. Her knowledge of
Geography became a huge asset. She grasped the concepts of what she was
writing about quicker than most writers in the department. I believe
that her background allowed her to become much more of a user advocate
in her manuals than if she had a straight TW background. Had she
interviewed for a job writing repair manuals for microwave circuits, she
would not have the inside edge for the job that she did writing
cartographic software manuals.

IMO, companies want the right 'fit' for the position. This fit is more
than degree and GPA, it's product/subject knowledge, experience, tools,
versatility, salary requirements, innovation, and writing skills. For
example, I worked at a company that produced atomic clocks and timing
equipment and went to a division in another company that produced
computerized maps. I was asked many questions about the products I
wrote about. This, I believe, was to determine how much of a learning
curve I would face on writing about the mapping software. When I
mentioned that I had written manuals and done field work in timing
equipment used to do satellite mapping/imaging, navigation, and
geological surveys, I got a flurry of questions from the interviewer and
a noticeable increase in interest on their part.

Mike Wing

> _____________________________________________
>| Michael Wing
>| Principal Technical Writer
>| Infrastructure Technical Information Development
>| Intergraph Corporation
>| Huntsville, Alabama
>| (205) 730-7250
>| mjwing -at- ingr -dot- com

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