Re: Certification/Degrees

Subject: Re: Certification/Degrees
From: Tim Altom <taltom -at- IQUEST -dot- NET>
Date: Thu, 12 Dec 1996 09:26:00 EST

At 04:50 PM 12/11/96 -0600, you wrote:

>I think Mr. Uhl has touched on an underlying issue. That is, a writer's
>perspective on this issue may change as they gain experience. From what
>we've discussed, the issue started as future requirements for entry into
>the profession and has expanded to discuss certification and standards
>for those entering or already in the profession.

<excellent generational analysis sadly snipped for bandwidth purposes>

Very good reminds me of a story told about a young lawyer who
passed the bar exam on the third try. He was exuberantly announcing his
entry to the bar to an older lawyer who wryly said, "Well, I suppose you'll
want to raise the entrance requirements, now."

I think a lot of established seniors feel this way, that the young puppies
are looking for shortcuts when in their day, by God, we suffered for our

This division only highlights the actual underlying question: Are we a group
of professionals, or are we a gaggle of people doing roughly the same job
and just coincidentally walking down the same hallway? If we're a
profession, we subordinate some of our own irritation to the good of the
group, both newcomers and veterans. If we're just a fraternity, then we'll
get together in the bar and tell war stories. Professions delineate, they
establish standards for excellence for both old and new hands to recognize.
Any form of certification may indeed embarrass older practitioners and it
may also exalt young pups who should have been left in the bullpen for
seasoning. But it can also announce to all and sundry that we're here for
each other, that we're not just a group of wannabe novelists.

Teachers suffer from the same load. They're often unionized, but are they
really union workers? Or are they a profession? Or are they just people in
adjacent classrooms? It matters. The choices they make will hinge on how
they view themselves, just as the choices we'll make will depend on how we
envision our own status. If we're just laborers, like clerks, then companies
will continue to treat us like something they found on the bottom of their
shoes, because they can find one of "us" anywhere. If we're professionals,
then let's establish standards and let the whole damned world know what they
are. If we're union members...well, let's just bop on down to the Teamsters
hall and sign up. But we're in limbo now, and the default condition is

Bottom line: We have to choose a path, and choosing not to choose is still a
choice. Right now, by not actively choosing, we're consigning ourselves to
"vertical" advancement, meaning that we have to win our spurs almost solely
within a given company, by proving ourselves on many, many projects. Move to
another company and the process may have to start all over again, because
the new firm may not know what tech doc'ers do, much less how to evaluate
one. We must actively and openly express a choice...profession or gaggle? If
we're a clerical gaggle, we must then forever shut up and never, never
complain when we're asked to type the boss's letters. That's what clerks do.

Tim Altom
Vice President, Simply Written, Inc.
317.899.5882 (voice) 317.899.5987 (fax)
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