Re: Where did you get your feet wet?

Subject: Re: Where did you get your feet wet?
From: topsidefarm -at- mva -dot- net
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Tue, 7 Jun 2005 08:05:44 -0600

> Hi Y'all -
> Several of these threads have gotten me wondering how most of us got
> involved in tech writing to begin with.
> Thanks!
> Lori

Like so many on this list, my arrival at Technical Writing was a long,
winding trip. Along the way, the jobs I held seemed to direct me in any
direction but TW.

My education started in a Tool and Die Making course at a Voc-Tec school
in Pennsylvania. Over the next twenty years, I would work as a machinist,
welder, machine builder, manufacturing general help, and QC
inspector/technician. I found myself working for an optical company, a
wire and cable mill, a paper mill, a gun factory, a lock manufacturer,
numerous job shops, a fiber optics plant, and steam turbine manufacturing.

It was at the steam turbine business, General Electric, that my career
took one of its first major turns. By sheer luck, I ended up in the QC
department. I learned a lot about quality systems and (most importantly)
documentation. Working in QC for a government contractor meant lots of
documentation. The most important thing I learned was just how important
documentation can really be. My biggest accomplishment at GE was my
involvement with that facility becoming ISO 9001 certified.

It was during my ten years at GE that I started back to school. Along the
way, I earned an AA in Management, an AS in Computer Science, and a BS in
General Studies/Business. The latter two were earned long after leaving

After GE closed that facility in 1998, I worked for another machine shop
for a while before being laid off. It was at this time that a Tech Writer
position opened at Beloit Pulping in Nashua, NH. An acquaintance of mine
from my GE days approached me about the position. He said that it would be
no different than all of the QOP writing I had done for GE. I applied for
the position and got it based entirely on my manufacturing background (I
had only finished my AA at the time).

Since then there have been three other permanent positions and over a
half-dozen contracts (with me sometimes working several jobs at the same
time). Yes, the TW market in New England has been a wild ride. I did not
leave any of the permanent jobs voluntarily; I was laid off from the three
I have left (still at the fourth) due to economic reasons. I still have an
ongoing relationship with several of the contract positions.

As you can see, nothing in my early work history gave any indication I
would end up in this field, and my only formal training was a single
course on the subject (which came about two years after I started at
Beloit). This seems to be true for quite a number of us. We just seemed to
land here by luck. Who says good things don?t happen to good people!

Jason A. Czekalski


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