The dark rainy evening of March 8 saw a number of people take shelter at Allegro Café to meet for the Tech Comm Café.
After some enthusiastically received announcements regarding upcoming workshops and volunteer meetings, the group introduced themselves.
With a mix of seasoned technical writers and people new to the field, the theme of the night was definitely sharing tips, tricks, and challenges of the trade.
Questions about locally available education options spurred a discussion on what to look for from a technical writing program. Some members preferred more hands-on learning with specific software, while others found theory and coaching on writing more useful. Eventually, the group agreed that employers are likely to want software knowledge, so while learning to be a good writer is most important, it is best to know at least one of each type of popular tool.
The group moved on to discuss some challenges that a technical writer might encounter, such as how a new writer can determine the appropriate pay to ask for when trying to accumulate experience; when to follow up with an uncommunicative potential client after an interview vs. when to walk away; and when someone new to the field can start calling themselves a technical writer. Sharing opinions and receiving input from people already in the industry is incredibly valuable to those starting out, and can help to make the experience less intimidating.
The group also shared advice on some of the complexities of finding work as an independent contractor, such as ensuring that you connect only with reputable recruiters, learning how to spot fake employer websites, and being cautious about unscrupulous job posters.
The group discussed what kinds of company cultures are amenable to working remotely, and what kinds of behaviours the technical writer needs to keep up when working from home. This brought up the topic of accepting writing contracts from across the country and the border, and useful thoughts were shared.
The dynamic mix of individuals at different stages allowed the group to share a lot of knowledge, and future cafés are sure to offer valuable insights as the group of attendees shifts and grows. Come to the Tech Comm Café next time to mingle with other technical writers, ask questions, give advice, hear about open jobs, and network.
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, April 12, 2017
If you plan to attend, please RSVP to admin (at) stcwestcoast.ca.
Date: Wednesday, April 12, 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.