Re: Where did you get your feet wet?

Subject: Re: Where did you get your feet wet?
From: lisa -dot- hickling -at- bljc -dot- com
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Mon, 6 Jun 2005 10:18:51 -0600

> Several of these threads have gotten me wondering how most of us got
> involved in tech writing to begin with. How many of you have your
> bachelors or masters in the field? How many of you grew into it from
> previous jobs? How many of you just thought it sounded interesting and
> jumped on in?

Hi Lori,

The technical writing continuum permits people of diverse backgrounds to
call this profession home. Some are more ?technical?; others are more
?writer?. Our common thread is the ability to bridge the gap to deliver
friendly, useful information to our audience (being mindful of the
continuum here too).

Consider my winding road into this profession:

I fell into my first job proofreading SEC filing documents that had been
keyed by data entry personnel (outsourced to my company). Subsequent
experience in that job landed me an HRIS Assistant position (no HR
experience but lots of IS exposure?not particularly unattractive in an
office drone circa 1993). However, frustration with the existing HRIS
system and visions of creating a better one lead me into Systems Analysis
and Programming. Great benefits scored time off to complete a BSc. double
majoring in Computer and Management Studies. I thereafter threw myself
further into windows applications development in Visual Basic, which I
enjoyed except for the requirement of writing user guides to the
applications I developed. Pardon my heresy, but I **really, really hated**
that pesky task! (There I said it?now I have to wash my keyboard with soap
and water!)

I nagged my boss about sponsoring training on help dev. but instead was
trained on everything else. I quit that job when my husband and I
relocated to Canada, decided it was time to overcome my aversion to
documentation, and enrolled in a one year Tech Comm Program. I met my
current employers through my program?s coop and have been writing API and
SysAdmin docs, developing Programmer Orientation material, and
architecting n-tier online help for web applications with that company
ever since.

Though I still am very interested in coding (particularly embedded help
solutions)?my eyes belong to user advocacy. Pretty good for a reformed
programmer, huh!


Lisa H.

As an aside, I wonder how many writers in software documentation were
former programmers who saw the light. Do let me know!


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