Virtual Town Hall meeting on January 25, 2012

Many thanks to everyone who participated in our Virtual Town Hall meeting on January 25, 2012 The webinar provided a good opportunity for us to reconnect, celebrate the accomplishments of the past year, and get excited about the opportunities before us in the coming year.

Speaker Presentations and Handouts

Presentation Highlights

Among the highlights of the presentation were:

The group had a few lively discussions about what STC offers to our members, especially the grant from IBM, potential locations for future meetings (come to the wineries in Virginia's Shenandoah Valley), and the STC job bank.

The group expressed a desire to give support to our local student affiliates. Tiffany Newland will be attending the JMU Student Chapter Meeting in February and suggested that we send her ideas and information about events that would appeal to students at the undergrad or graduate level. Email Tiffany at tnewland at

Many thanks to some of the STC leadership who attended online:

And to all our chapter members and volunteers for a terrific 2011.

Here's looking forward to communicating with you in 2012.

Jumping into Technical Writing

[Administrator’s Note: The following post was written by guest blogger and chapter member Steve Jolivette. Chapter members are welcome to contribute to this website. Contact the WDCB Site Manager for more information.]

I have been encouraged to write here of my somewhat unusual way of entering into the field of technical writing. That's right, I am not a technical communication professional, but am trying to enter the field—by just jumping in. Some of you might find my approach and my experiences—and my success (?)—interesting.

Let me introduce myself by my elevator presentation. It was interesting when I gave it to a gathering of about 40 technical communication professionals at a recent evening event of the WDCB chapter:

  • name: Steve Jolivette . . .
  • trying to break into the field of technical writing . . .
  • have done a great deal of technical writing, but in the capacity of an IT programmer/analyst, not a technical writer . . .
  • have also done much writing as an historian (have a Ph.D. in history) . . .
  • so I have done a great deal of writing, but I do not have expertise in the software tools of TW . . .
  • in order to break into the field I am willing to start at a very low rate . . .

Wooh—I got quite a rise from this last revelation! I had hardly finished pronouncing the last word (“rate”) when everyone laughed, some gasping with shock. The laughter was not exactly because it was funny—it was more the laughter of surprise at the unexpected-incredible, i.e., at a supposedly big-time gaffe.

Now, I am not exactly a spring chicken—but I was more surprised than my audience. Naïve? Hmmm . . . Well, then again . . . To hell with it! I defended my stance then and I defend it now. How else can I show my talent and my determination to do quality work? I'll work for nothing (for awhile—however long it takes) to prove myself. I'll even volunteer for a good long stint at a non-paying job if that is what it takes. (My idea is that I can be highly productive writing solid text—to pass to others to format and graphically enhance—while gaining expertise with the tools.)

This hire-me-on-trial, let-me-train-on-the-job tactic is how I first entered into computer programming years ago. With a B.A. in history, needing solid employment, and with no programming education, training, or experience, I went to the Yellow Pages and started dialing the "Data Processing" numbers and soon found a small company which gave me a two-week trial (I passed) which was the beginning of a satisfying career in IT. (It was a fine career in its own right, and in later financing my way through graduate school in history.) So something like that can probably—almost certainly—work for me a second time. I'll give it a try.

Anyone interested in trying me?

In any case, I'll post here from time to time, at major events or major epiphanies, to let those who are interested know how it is coming along . . .

Announcing STC’s Job Seeker Boot Camp

by kmardahl on August 17th, 2009

STC announces a free program for members who are currently seeking employment or contracts.
In this tough economic climate, STC would like to extend a helping hand to those conducting job searches. While members have free access to the Job Seeker Boot Camp, as well as many other benefits, STC has made this program available to nonmembers for the affordable rate of $65. So if you have friends or colleagues seeking employment, be sure to tell them about this special offer.

The four elements of the boot camp

The STC Job Seeker Boot Camp includes four elements to help the effectiveness of your search:

  1. Free access to the STC Career Center where new job postings specific to technical communicators are listed and shown to members EXCLUSIVELY FOR 14 DAYS before they are released to the public. STC recently partnered with the top recruiters in the tech comm field to post the best job openings on our Career Center.
  2. Free access to a dozen-plus articles written by and for technical communicators about how to distinguish yourself, how to identify hidden job markets, what questions to expect during the interview, and how to increase your perceived value to your next employer. The work of technical communicators is an important contribution to a company’s bottom line. Learn what to emphasize when describing the value of your accomplishments.
  3. Free access to audio podcasts by well-known STC recruiters. John Hedtke and Jack Molisani speak on topics such as: mistakes technical communicators make during job searches, résumé tips, creating buzz about yourself during your search, and how to ace the interview.
  4. Free access to the latest STC Salary Survey to help you establish your value during negotiations. The survey also shows how technical writers have shifted from state to state or metropolitan areas, where salaries are holding firm, and where the largest increases in salaries have occurred. Learn what the average, median, and 90th percentile salary are for technical writers in your area.

The Job Seeker Boot Camp is presented as an additional free benefit for members.

Oh, and spread the word. Someone may be very glad you did.