Re: Interns@ $10 an hour

Subject: Re: Interns@ $10 an hour
From: Dan BRINEGAR <vr2link -at- VR2LINK -dot- COM>
Date: Fri, 12 Dec 1997 18:26:58 -0700

Eric wrote:
>Of course, the other explanation is that the
>company budgets $10/hour for an "intern"
>to do advanced clerical duties, reformat
>documents that others wrote, and take
>care of running errands and fetching
>coffee. That's what gives internships a
>bad name and wastes everyone's time.

Funny, it's not just internships where ya end up doing that <smile>.

Based on the job description for the "highly qualified techwriter" an
agency called me about a couple of months ago, I said that it sounded like
the stuff I did five years ago, and usually make at least double the rate
they quoted; figuring it'd be the last I'd ever hear from that agency.

Two weeks later, [long personal story deleted] the agency calls up and sez
they got the higher rate -- will I start the next day? [Reiteration of long
personal story deleted].

Day 1) -- to project leader -- "I thought y'all needed a techwriter for
this gig..."

Day 1.5) "You *do* need a techwriter for this project, cos yer
'Engineer/Authors' sure can't write!"

Day 2) "I'm missing _Pinky and the Brain_ for this?"

Day 3) -- in the department manager's cube --

ME: "Is *This* all you've got for me to do till this project's over?
This is not techwriting, y'know [shaking hand-scribbled changes on the
fifth version of the same chapter this week]."

MANAGER: "You're a techwriter? We didn't need a techwriter, just a
documentation specialist. What incompetent boob sent you here?"

Day 3) -- at the agency offices --

AGENCY MUFFIN: "Why didn't you just tell us you didn't wanna do the job
before you started?"

ME: "I *told* you I didn't do simple reformatting when ya first called...
There's a difference between doc specialists and techwriters: and *you*
insisted they needed a techwriter."

AGENCY MUFFIN: "Well but *now* we look incompetent ..."

--Moral of the Story/Explicit Relevance to Life as a Technical Communicator--

1) After you've explained the differences between what a techwriter and a
doc specialist do, have the agency personnel repeat it back to you *in
their own words* and keep doing that till they get it. [$ELSE goto ITEM

2) Explicitly *state* that you won't do a particular kind of job: don't
assume the agency will understand the fact that normally making at least
twice the rate they're quoting means you do something more advanced.
3) Never take a job you'll hate -- no matter *how* hungry you are: you'll
be at work hating what you do while Bill Gates or Steve Jobs is leaving a
message on your answering machine at home saying "Really wanted to schedule
an interview this afternoon: Sorry I missed you."
4) Don't waste time with the clueless agencies that won't accept the
benefit of the information you offer them: Go ahead and burn that bridge
*before* you've wasted a week or a month (or ended up burning a bridge with
another communicator).

Performance S u p p o r t Svcs.
Phoenix, Arizona
<mailto:vr2link -at- vr2link -dot- com>

"Is it 'freedom' if you're in a cage too big to fly across?"
-- Anson Guthrie, as reported by Poul Anderson, or

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