Future Benefits For Members

Student Writers: Nena Weinsteiger, Amanda Molina, and Nini Bruno

Introduction

Although many economists explain that the recession ended more than 14 months ago, financial stability and hope has not been restored, yet. As students, we hear stories of college students graduating with master’s degrees and student loans, who cannot find a job. In the wake of an environment influenced by a recent recession, many of us are faced with lessening job prospects and, in some cases, feelings of dread and anxiety.

However, it may be relieving to learn that technical communication is a growing field, and FTC structure helps to communicate this. Without FTC meetings, many students would not know that the field was listed as Top Twenty Best Career Choices from 2010 to 2020 and is one of the few fields that continue to increase in salary. It holds the number 13th spot in Money Magazine’s list of the top 50 jobs in the United States. Technical writing is a versatile field- from writing instruction for Bright house to developing creative content for Disney websites. The structure of FTC and its connection to STC reminds us that the possibilities, although not endless, do in fact exist. The speakers and workshops provide student members with networking opportunities and vital knowledge for employment.

After joining STC and FTC, I realized the significance of becoming a technical writer; employers need to communicate, clearly, to their intended audience. Miscommunication leads to lawsuits, accidents, and mass confusion. Whether the audience members are fellow employees, consumers, or the general public, the need for technical writing is apparent in a variety of venues. Technical writing offers a stable income and interesting options. Most importantly, it is a field in demand, even after a recent recession.

Job Possibilities

Even though being a “technical communicator” involves technicalities, FTC reminds members that they are not married to writing meticulous manuals or instructions. Technical-writing-for-the-creative-individual, please know that this is a possibility. More and more, technical writers are taking on different roles and tasks in the work field. Professor Gomrad refers to us as “designers of information”. At one point, the majority of technical communicators were employed in the areas of science and engineering, but the nature of the industry is changing. Industries that hire technical writers include book, magazine, or newspaper publishers, the federal government, educational institutions, agriculture, and aerospace services. These industries are only some of the options available to technical writers.

Technical Communication is Vital to the Work Place

Technical writers make the language of scientific and technical ideas simple and understandable to the average reader. They may be employed to write policies and procedures. While others may write press releases and other promotional or advertising materials for companies that sell products or services. FTC, as a group, encourages undergraduates that Technical writers are very employable and have many options. Shown below are only a few, compared to the many, employment opportunities for technical writers.

http://www.disney.go.com
Disney%20Screen%20Shot.pdf

http://www.lockheedmartin.com
Lockheed%20Screen%20Shot.pdf

http://www.siemens.com
Siemens%20Screen%20Shot.pdf

FTC Advertises Employment Connections

FTC educates its members about the following local employers. Our first meeting this semester, featured a technical writer from Lockheed Martin, who shared his experiences and advise to those seeking a similar position. This type of exposure allows students to breathe easy, and will eventually increase enrollment into the technical writing field because not many programs, as hands-on.

Lockheed Martin- www.lockheedmartin.com
Military equipment is what Lockheed Martin is most known for, but it is not the only thing they produce. Lockheed Martin is a global security company that employs over 100,000 people around the world. Its primary focus is research, design, development, manufacturing, and integration of advanced technology systems. If you were a technical communicator with Lockheed Martin, you might draft manuals for equipment, being sold to the US Army.

Disney- www.disney.go.com
Disney is one of the most commonly recognized logos around the world. As the website explains, The Walt Disney Company is a leading international family entertainment and media enterprise with four business segments: media networks, parks and resorts, studio entertainment and consumer products. In Disney, you may draft brochures or edit website content .

Siemens- www.siemens.com
To those who have never heard of this modern and renowned company, their website is its number one resource. The Siemens Energy Sector is the world’s leading supplier of a complete spectrum of products, services and solutions for the generation, transmission and distribution of power and for the extraction, conversion and transport of oil and gas. (Should we add it’s environmental impact?)

Google –www.google.com
One of the most widely used search engines in the world. Google is a search domain that offers a broad range of search options including stock quotes, sports, weather, news, and mapping. You can also find images, videos, maps, patents and much more. All of this information is available in one place. Google has thousands of employees and offices around the world. Information provided by the domain itself, google.com.

US Weekly Magazine- www.usmagazine.com
Us Weekly magazine is one of the largest celebrity magazines, launched by the New York Times in 1977. The magazine offers insightful profiles of celebrities and provocative photography of the entertainment world. Information provided usmagazine.com.

These are only some of the leading companies and organizations that offer jobs to Technical Communicators. All companies listed are both local and nationwide. Please see the resource section below to search for other companies, large and small, that hire Technical Communicators.

FTC Posts Resources

The local FTC chapter in association with STC is one of the major resources that can help you to network and find employment after college. Other resources are available as you will find below.

http://www.stc-orlando.org
The Future Technical Communicators Chapter at UCF in association with the Society for Technical Communication provides a place for students to come together to network, share information, and seek employment.

http://www.prospring.net/
ProSpring Staffing provides engineers, project managers and technical writers for major companies and government agencies.

http://www.techwritingjobs.com/
TechWritingJobs.com provides technical writers looking for employment with resources, advice and tips that also help freelance writers.

http://www.stcwdc.org/employ.shtml
The WDC chapter offers opportunities to network with others in your field, to explore your interests, to expand your education and skills.

http://technicalwriterjobs.org/s/find-all-jobs-in-usa
Search job boards, company career pages and associations for USA Technical Writer jobs.

FTC Educates Financial Benefits of the Field

According to the Society for Technical Communicators, every year for the past 21 years, this field has seen an increase in salary. It holds the number 13th spot in Money Magazine’s list of the top 50 jobs in the United States. The Students who graduate are employed within three to six months upon graduation. Even with a downfall in the economy technical writers are still needed and have success in keeping or finding a job because they are so instrumental. This field continues to grow as companies and organizations become familiar with the qualities and benefits a technical writer possesses.

Florida-Local Job Benefits

Technical communications demands a varied amount of skills, which range from editing, protocol writing, professional and business writing, English and grammar, visual design, and journalism. As a result, the financial benefits vary greatly between fields. The following charts are current statistics from Florida’s Employment and Workforce division to some of the current median salaries within these fields. For continued, updated information, visit www.employflorida.com.

Technical Communicators, in the field

Daniel Beck

1. Why did you decide to take the path of Technical Communication?

It's a little convoluted.

Initially, I enrolled at UCF as a computer science major. During the first year however, I was disappointed with the uneven quality of instruction in my CS courses, so I became much less enthusiastic about my major. Then, during a trip home, I met a technical editor—a job I previously didn't know existed—and after talking with her, decided to enroll in a tech-writing course. I took the introductory tech writing course and really enjoyed it. I think I switched majors that semester.

2. In what ways did the FTC benefit you?

My involvement in FTC helped me in several ways. In my leadership position, I learned a lot about how (not to) supervise a group, public speaking, and conflict management. As a member, I really benefited from the guidance and support of the other students.

3. What has your experience been in the field, after graduation. Was the FTC a role in that placement?

Not quite two months after I graduated, I was hired by a web hosting company, WebFaction. I'm their only technical writer, where I write all the user-facing documentation and prepare tutorial video screen casts. FTC was not directly involved in finding the position—I actually found the job listing through Twitter—but my experience with FTC did come up during the interview process and (I think) favorably contributed to my application.

4.What do you feel were the most beneficial aspects of UCF's Technical Communication program and FTC respectively?

[The] project-based course work helped me to learn how to work with wide variety of groups and people. From the 20+ person class working on a book to working one-on-one with clients on brochure, I think the courses do a good job of preparing students to work with real people.

As for FTC, I think it's a great avenue to interacting with the world beyond campus. Particularly with its connections to STC and the funding for going to the STC conference, involvement with FTC provides a view to the wider world of technical communication that course work alone couldn't provide.

Also, the people in FTC are great. I made more friends than I care to count through FTC.

Michael Wilson

1. Why did you decide to take the path of Technical Communication?

I was originally a creative writing major until I realized how much I disliked my professor. People in my class [continued] talking about their technical writing minor and it sounded interesting; so I looked into it.

I changed my major to technical communication, after looking into the profession some more. I thought it would be a great way to major in English but also have [added] value, in my degree, when I graduated. And what I mean by that is sometimes getting a degree in English – in Literature, for example – can do nothing in terms of a career when further education isn’t an option.

Once I actually started taking technical writing courses, like “Professional Writing,” I realized how good I was at it. So, it motivated me to continue on the technical communication track.

2. Were you involved with FTC and how did it benefit you?

I was vice-president of FTC my last semester of college (Spring 2010). And before that, I was an active member.

FTC benefited me through its involvement with STC. Had I not been a member of FTC, I would have not joined STC and I would likely not have the job I have today. My participation in FTC, along with my membership in STC, resulted in me winning the STC Orlando Melissa Pellegrin Scholarship. FTC also provided me an opportunity to go to the STC Conference in Dallas for free, which was a great opportunity.

3. What has your experience been in the field, after graduation. Was the FTC a role in that placement?

I was searching for a job several months before I graduated. I had applied to several entry-level programs throughout Florida and landed a few interviews. But for whatever reason, they didn’t work out.

I work as a technical communicator in the Financial Support Services section of UCF’s Finance and Accounting Department. I build online courses, develop the content, and produce manuals and reference guides for the Finance and Accounting department.

I had been looking for a job since May 2010 when I graduated and had some success with landing interviews – but no offers. I would often air my frustration at FTC meetings and STC meetings in hopes that someone would be able to offer guidance.

Mark Wray, my current boss, is also the STC Orlando treasurer. He had seen my involvement with STC and FTC and was impressed. He had an opening for a person with technical communication skills and we set up a meeting. We discussed the role and with a few days I was offered the position. Had I not been actively involved with FTC or STC, I would not have the job – that’s a fact!

4. What do you feel were the most beneficial aspects of UCF's Technical Communication program and FTC respectively?

Tech Communication: The most beneficial aspects of the UCF technical communication program are the professors. For the most part, the tech comm. professors go out of their way to make sure you are successful – if you put in the work. The relationships I formed with my professors enabled me to internship and work with real-world clients that prepared me for the business world. Also, our hands-on program game me plenty of work to put into my online portfolio which also helped me land my current job. They were impressed with the content and presentation.

Lori Brodkin

Why did you decide to take the path of Technical Communication?

I chose this path after talking to Gloria Jaffe about my love of writing. I was heading into my final semester at UF, majoring in English Literature. I loved to read and I loved to write. I didn’t know there existed a career path for people who love to write but who didn’t want to be a journalist or ad exec or novelist. Gloria introduced me to the field of “technical writing.” I bought a book about it (The Tech Writing Game) and took a Technical Writing course as a senior at University of Florida. I found my path!

Were you involved with FTC?

I wasn’t, although I think it’s gained a tremendous following and has had an incredible influence for students of technical communication. If I could do it over again, I would certainly join!

What has your experience been like in job searching since graduation?

I was fortunate enough to have a job before graduating from the Master’s program! I was working as a technical writer for a local manufacturing company. After graduation, though I got a promotion! And then I went on to get my PhD from New Mexico State University and have since returned to UCF to teach.

Do you work in the field? If so, how did you obtain the position? Was the FTC a role in that placement?

I do work in the field as a teacher and a freelance writer. I did not use FTC in that placement but strongly encourage students to do so!

What do you feel were the most beneficial aspects of UCF's Tech Comm program and FTC respectively?

Certainly the curriculum at UCF was challenging and helped prepare me as a writer in the field. One of the other benefits was the collaboration between UCF and the larger community. I was able to gain invaluable experience in the field while still a student under the guidance of the professors. This gave me confidence in my abilities!

What do you feel were the least beneficial aspects of them?

I had a fabulous experience. I was the second person to graduate from the Master’s program, so the program was still in its infancy. But even then, it was valuable, beneficial, and effective in all the ways a student needs.

If you could give current students any advice, what would you feel would be most significant for them to know, based on your own experiences?

Take every opportunity presented to you – and make some for you own. Work with your instructors and make connections. Sometimes the work you do outside the classroom is more valuable than the work you do inside.

Karen Lane

1. Why did you decide to take the path of Technical Communication?

I was looking for a way to use my language skills and had edited documents for friends. When I realized I could learn more about the field I was entering and could earn a master’s degree at the same time, it seemed a natural fit.

2.Were you involved with FTC?

There was no FTC when I was in the master’s program, but early on I became aware of STC and began attending meetings. Soon I was finding that the meetings provided both an opportunity to learn from more experienced technical communicators and a venue for networking and interacting with my peers and potential mentors. After a couple of years’ membership, I was invited to run for chapter office. That didn’t actually happen, because as a student member I couldn’t have served in the office, but the invitation opened up the possibility of becoming more active in the chapter and in STC.

3. What has your experience been like in job searching since graduation?

I’m freelance, so my job searching has been accomplished by networking and putting my name and credentials on freelance lists. As I became busier, I also started getting more word-of-mouth referrals from former clients’ recommending me to their friends and colleagues.

Do you work in the field? If so, how did you obtain the position? Was the FTC a role in that placement?

I work as a freelance technical editor and indexer. I get my work as described above: word of mouth, referrals and repeat business from established clients, and freelance lists. STC played a role indirectly, in that my membership and various leadership positions in STC were items on my résumé, showing that I am serious about the profession.

4. What do you feel were the most beneficial aspects of UCF's Tech Comm program and FTC respectively?

The Tech Comm program introduced me to the theory and practice of technical communication, giving me access to both the best practices of the profession and the feedback of established experienced professionals. STC allowed me to meet other practitioners and learn new skills.

5. If you could give current students any advice, what would you feel would be most significant for them to know, based on your own experiences?

Learn and network. Take advantage of the knowledge of your peers and those who have been in the profession longer than you. Meet and speak to people in other areas of the profession. Attend as many meetings as you have time for and can afford: it’s your investment in your future.