Be the change: for your community and career

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Be the change: for your community and career

“The STC is what you make it.”

This is my response when someone asks “What has the STC or chapter done for me lately?” or to the comment “I haven’t renewed my membership because the presentations weren’t geared towards my needs. It was great when I was first starting out, but then I wasn’t receiving value for my dollar because…”. The explanation trails off into all the ways in which the chapter failed to provide relevance for one beyond year three or four of their career.

My response is sometimes greeted by furrowed brows, excuses, and the occasional “I never thought of it that way”.

I then take shameful liberties with a favourite quote from Mahatma Gandhi: “Be the change you wish to see in your STC chapter.” At this point, I either have to duck from projectile lunch items or contend with eye rolling.

What do I mean by “be the change”? First, let’s frame this in terms of the communal “we”.”We” defines our volunteers, members, event attendees, and the chapter council. When we start thinking as a “we” committing to change, rather than a random collection of individual effort, then “we” as a chapter can create a lot of change. Shared responsibility, ownership, and planning of anything, big or small, seems less daunting. We can be the change, together, and bring forth a chapter that serves all our needs.

So how do we “be”, exactly? At any stage of your professional technical writer career, be it student to documentation manager, you have something to offer the chapter. I have yet to meet a fellow writer who didn’t have a unique experience, skill, or bit of practical advice to share.

As for “serving all our needs”, imagine the possibilities of our community when:

  • Prospective tech writing students read stcwestcoast,ca blogs by BCIT, SFU, and VCC graduates on courses they’ve taken to help them get started in their new careers.
  • The experienced tech writer previously focused on user guides produced in Adobe FrameMaker meets a local MadCap Flare expert at one of our monthly Tech Comm Café meetings.
  • The MadCap Flare expert attends one of our seminars on API writing.
  • The API writer designs an online curriculum for a very technical audience after attending our instructional design workshop.
  • The trainer for the instructional design workshop registers for a webinar on localization issues after meeting meeting an attendee who works for a translation services company.

The chain that connects us, while precipitated by a need, also helps foster continuous opportunities to learn from each other. How you share what you know is up to you: networking, blog posts, online or in-person presentations, and volunteering for various opportunities in the chapter.

If you wish to be the change, join us.

 

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This article was written by Mala Rupnarain

Mala Rupnarain is the past president of the STC Canada West Coast chapter.

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