A break in Vancouver’s wet weather on a cool spring evening brought an eclectic mix of technical writers to the Allegro Café, near downtown Vancouver, for April’s Tech Comm Café meeting.
After a quick round of introductions where members practiced their elevator speeches, the group set the agenda and a friendly tone for the 90-minute huddle.
The group brainstormed alternative venues to accommodate larger gatherings and facilitate better discussions. Possible locations included smaller, quieter coffee shops and occasional dinner meetings with a guest speaker knowledgeable in a particular subject. All agreed that venues should be easily accessible via transit and offer free parking in the vicinity.
Then it was on to the business of exchanging ideas and offering advice on technical writing. Some members were starting to explore going down the path of technical writing and asked the veterans among us about best practices and institutions to learn and hone skills. There was lengthy discussion on online versus in-person training and full-time versus contract work. One member, who prefers self-employment contracts to permanent jobs because of the flexibility, suggested requesting Employment Insurance deductions in the contract to offset periods of no work.
The same writer wondered about the dilemma of writing on subjects that are morally ambiguous, or working for a company whose values you don’t share. This led into the need for caution when taking a job with a client or employer who has never worked with a technical writer. They might have unreasonable expectations, or vague (or missing) goals and deadlines. This could provide an opportunity to write your own job description, define the scope of the project, and demonstrate how a writer’s skills provide value to the rest of the organization.
Questions were also asked about junior versus senior technical writer pay rates and the benchmark in years of experience between the two levels to request equitable compensation.
That segued into where the term “technical writer” originated and its different genres. One person suggested that “technical writer” is a misnomer; “technical communicator” is a better industry term because our work encapsulates more than just writing.
The meeting wrapped up with an exchange of business cards, networking, and potential job opportunities. If you’re looking for sound advice and good knowledge about technical writing, join a dynamic group of individuals at next month’s meeting for insight, discussions, and opportunities.
The TCC 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!
Next Vancouver-Area Tech Comm Café: Wednesday, May 10, 2017
If you plan to attend, please RSVP to admin (at) stcwestcoast.ca.
Date: Wednesday, May 10, 2017
Time: 6:30–8:00 pm Pacific Time
Location: Allegro Café, Whole Foods Market, 510 West 8th Avenue at Cambie, Vancouver. The Allegro is the smaller coffee bar on the mezzanine level, with entrance on the Cambie Street side (not the restaurant downstairs in the main store area). Close to Broadway-City Hall Skytrain (Canada Line) and Broadway buses; pay parking on the street or in the Whole Foods underground parkade, entrance on West 8th Ave.