November’s meeting began with a surprise: our regular meeting place was closed for a special event. We found another coffee shop around the corner instead.
For the benefit of some new people who weren’t familiar with local STC activities, we discussed recent face-to-face presentations on API documentation, Flare, personality differences in the workplace, and privacy legislation. The chapter will also be holding more webinars in the future, including one on The Secrets of Successful Freelancing by Stephen Gauer on Nov. 22. There has been some interest in holding an editing workshop as well. One member commented on a little-known benefit of STC membership: discounts on laptops, software, office supplies, and other products.
We also discussed the chapter’s volunteer opportunities. They need someone with WordPress knowledge to help with the chapter’s website and are also looking for a vice-president. The chapter is always looking for volunteers and volunteering is a great way to meet people and learn new skills.
This group discovered that there are many paths to becoming a technical communicator, including copy writer, librarian, technician, and engineer. One senior technical communicator commented on the variety of topics she had worked on as a technical writer, including solar energy, diamond mining, safety checklists, and hazardous-waste cleanup. Another works as a business analyst, documenting business processes.
One participant, switching to technical writing from another field, was a little discouraged in her job search. The others suggested their preferred websites as a source of job postings, as well as the Canada West Coast chapter’s own job bank (available to STC members), which has had a number of job postings recently. Going to an agency was also mentioned as a resource, although one member let us know that most agencies take a percentage of your hourly pay. The job hunter was reminded to capitalize on her strengths, including a solid technical specialty and advanced education, and perhaps do more research to see where her background could fit in.
Having a participant at the event who is, or has recently been, a student in a technical communication program is quite common. The workload is described as quite heavy but an internship at the end is beneficial. The chapter is awarding a limited number of student memberships for 2018, so students should keep that in mind. As well, you can get an STC membership at a substantial discount if you graduated within the past three years.
The Tech Comm Café provides networking opportunities, job leads, answers to work-related dilemmas, and a burst of professional energy to keep you motivated. We discuss technical writing tools and techniques, career planning, portfolios, and anything else related to working as a technical communicator.
We welcome anyone who’s interested in technical communication — contractor, in-house, student, long-time tech writer, STC member, non-member, career-changer, or recruiter. We hope to see you at the next meeting!
January 10, 2018: Province-wide (and beyond) online Tech Comm Café, 8:00 to 9:30 p.m. RSVP to admin (at) stcwestcoast.ca if you plan to attend. We’ll send you login instructions before the meeting.