From volunteering for the Society for Technical Communication to creating this blog, I’ve had a pretty busy year. I believe that I have accomplished a lot in attempting to further my future career. I would like this blog post to examine my realizations and thoughts on the field of technical writing and communication as this 2016-2017 academic year comes to a close.
A High Volume of Research
At the beginning of this year, I didn’t know how much research had been done in the field of technical writing, and I’ll admit that I assumed that technical writing and communication research would actually be a gap in the field rather than something highly-studied. I am happy to say that I was wrong. In my Communications Studies course, I have been working on an Honors report analyzing the field of technical communication as a form of communication. I found that doing research for this report has been a lot easier than I originally thought it would be. By just searching “technical writing” or “technical communication” in JSTOR, I had more than enough research to work with. There’s even research on ethical dimensions of technical communication, which I found to be very interesting and thought-provoking.
I found this theme to be stressed throughout much of the technical writing and communication research that I explored. It was an idea that I found both in my Technical Communications I course and my Theories in Technical and Professional Writing course. Being user-centered is one of the most important concerns of technical writing and communication, and it’s an area that I’m continually working on improving.
I realized that technical writing and communication is worldwide. I previously understood that it would be a field that would be relevant everywhere, but I didn’t realize the extent. Some of the technical writers that I met from my job shadowing at Thomson Reuters are currently learning different languages so that they can communicate with clients from all over the globe.
No problem! I learned that technical writing is a field in which you can create your own work samples without having previous experience in the field. For example, you can write your own instructions for almost anything (your microwave, a game, how to make a sandwich, etc.). I am truly lucky to have an internship that will generate work samples for future job applications, but it’s not a necessity. In fact, I might actually attempt to create some sort of outside-of-work documentation just to add to my future application materials.
Sense of Community
Technical writers and communicators everywhere have banded together to create helpful communities. One example of this is, of course, the Society for Technical Communication (STC). And even within that, there’s local chapters, such as the southeastern Michigan chapter that I was fortunate enough to be able to volunteer for. There’s a subreddit for technical writing, which I have found to be a useful resource. It’s a relief to have somewhere that I can post about issues and problems that I’ve been having, and then engage in a discussion with many different technical writers.
I tried to put a heavy focus on the field of technical writing and communication this academic year, and I’m glad that I did so. Not only did I further my understanding of the field that I want to go into, I also became more certain about and happy with my choice to become a technical writer.