I hope you enjoyed your summer adventures and activities, but also took some time to unwind and recharge as well. As the warm weather and long days draw to a close, we are hard at work planning some exciting activities and events that we hope will keep you engaged and connected to the techcomm community while continuing to learn, grow, and develop your skills all year long. Continue reading “Welcome to the 2017-2018 STC-SM Program Year!”
Most of us have returned from our summer vacations and some of us have returned to school (or have children or grandchildren who have returned to school). The days are busier and the weather more brisk. We’re thinking about Halloween costumes and parties. We’re getting into the last quarter of the year and for many of us, that means a lot more work.
I love the Fall colors and the ability to open the doors and windows and let the fresh air in. Our chapter is also trying to breathe some fresh air into our programs and networking events. In September, we presented a program about the user’s experience along with a case study of usability testing performed for a BCBSM project. The program was held at BCBSM’s Omni Building in Southfield, was attended by 10 people and was well received.koo Continue reading “Letter from the President”
Welcome back! I hope your summer has been fun and relaxing. I spent most of mine recovering from my auto accident and doing my physical therapy to return to something resembling normal activity.
While I was home recuperating, I began to research which volunteer positions still needed to be filled for the upcoming year. I got a current membership list and started calling people to let them know I am their new president, that we would like to have some ideas for program topics and locations, and that we have several opportunities to volunteer and help out the chapter.
Contact anyone on the Council if you would like to volunteer to host a program, write a blog post, greet guests at an event, or take on a council position. There are plenty of ways to help out and not many of them take a commitment of a lot of time. If you are just starting out in this business, you can gain some useful experience for your resume!
Membership and attendance at meetings and programs have other benefits as well. Job seekers can attend and let the rest of us know that you’re in the market for a job. Employers can attend and announce your openings and talk to candidates. Attendees should always bring several business cards for that purpose. Job openings are also posted on the listserv. If you don’t know how to post a job opening or if you don’t know how to join the listserv, we’ll have someone available to tell you how do to that.
Keep your eyes peeled for announcements through this blog and the Upcoming Events Calendar; and the listserv and social media for programs, networking events, and Council meetings (which are open to all members). Here is what we have planned for the 2016–17 program year:
September: Usability Testing/User Experience. BCBSM at Omni Bldg, Southfield
October: Washtenaw Community College, Ann Arbor. Topic to be determined
November: Networking Happy Hour, northern suburbs or midtown Detroit
December: Holiday mixer, Ann Arbor
January: Virtual Tech Comm Showcase
February: Online meeting or webinar
March: Washtenaw Community College, Ann Arbor. Topic to be determined
April: Networking breakfast in Ann Arbor
May: Summit in Washington D.C.
June: General business meeting, end-of-year awards ceremony, and potluck luncheon at home of president
All Council meetings will be held at the home of the president for Council members and visitors, and will also be available through Adobe Connect for those who cannot attend in person. During the winter months, the meetings will only be held online. They will be held the third Sunday of every month.
Networking breakfasts, lunches, and happy hours will be another way for you to meet other technical communicators for professional networking and job sharing. These events will take place in a variety of places throughout our chapter’s geographic location. If you would like to host one of these events, please contact us and let us know where and when you’d like to do so.
We had our Council and Planning meeting at Washtenaw Community College on Sunday, September 14, so I would like to fill you in on some of our plans for the year. Most of our discussions revolved around planning the program year, but we also discussed tweaking the fee structure and volunteer opportunities.
The STC-SM member showcase and volunteer appreciation dinner meeting held on June 25 at Little Daddy’s in Livonia was a great opportunity to recognize and reflect on the contributions of our members both in the workplace and in our chapter. And it also gave me the opportunity to reflect on the past program year as my year of serving as your chapter president draws to a close. In reflecting, we can both celebrate what we have achieved and think about where we want to go as a chapter. Continue reading “Some presidential reflections”
The weather and driving conditions were far from ideal for the January 9th networking lunch at Panera Bread in Rochester Hills, but the hearty souls who braved the elements to share in a light lunch and good conversation found plenty to talk about between mouthfuls of hot soup and cookies.
At these networking events, besides the opportunity for networking and sharing war stories from the front lines of the technical communication battle, I look forward to hearing from our STC/SM members (and not-yet members) about their views of the chapter, particularly the value of chapter membership and the benefits that it can provide. So one of the things that I sought feedback about last Thursday was the program topics and speakers we’ve had in the recent past and that we’re planning for in the 2013-2014 program year. Many of the topics that members have asked for are related directly to day-to-day needs, such as information about tools like FrameMaker® and RoboHelp® by Adobe®, MadCap FlareTM, and XML, and strategies such as Agile and content management systems. But I was also reminded that there are other topics that members are totally unfamiliar with but would like to learn more about. Continue reading “Beating the Winter Blahs – and Other Insights from the January 9th Networking Lunch”
As the incoming president of the STC/Southeastern Michigan (STC/SM) chapter, I’d like to welcome all of our members and other technical communication professionals to the 2013-2014 program year. With a new chapter leadership team in place and continued support from many of our long-serving volunteers, I’m really excited and looking forward to the many opportunities and services we plan to offer to the technical communication community in southeastern Michigan.
At our combination “Welcome Back!” program and council meeting on Wednesday, September 25 on the campus of Lawrence Tech in Southfield, all of the chapter officers and volunteer leaders had the opportunity to discuss their goals and plans for the coming year. I gave a brief presentation on my vision for our chapter, which focuses on establishing STC/SM as “our local STC home for networking, education, and camaraderie.” This also happens to be our “tagline” for our website, which is in the process of being redesigned for a fresher look and improved usability (check it out at http://www.stc-sm.org). Specifically, I plan to work with the chapter officers and volunteers to:
• Complete and submit our 2013-2014 budget to STC by October 31 (almost three weeks ahead of schedule)
• Increase membership by 15 percent (not-yet-members, please feel free to help us reach this goal)
• Plan and conduct at least seven program meetings/events
• Complete the launch of our redesigned website
• Revive and implement a scholarship awards program
Our new vice president, Pat Martz, who has also graciously agreed to continue in her role as chapter Webmaster and champion-of-all-things-Web-based, gave an overview of the work on the website that she and Pam Finger, a student in LTU’s technical and professional communication graduate program, have completed and are still working on. We’re all very excited about the work that has been completed to date, and are anxiously looking forward to the improvements that are yet to come.
Mary Jo David, a chapter member whom many of you know as past president (and wearer of various other volunteer hats), has jumped in to help us with our membership recruitment and retention efforts with considerable research and investigation into the needs of our members, and the services, resources and opportunities they are looking for from STC and STC/SM. Mary Jo is also spearheading a new series of informal networking lunches (or breakfasts or happy hours) throughout the southeast Michigan region, and already successfully conducted one such luncheon in Plymouth, Michigan on October 9. More such events are in the planning stages for the near future, so check our website frequently for upcoming dates and locations.
Lisa Veasey, another long-time member who has served the chapter in both elected and volunteer positions, has graciously offered to help with identifying ideas and topics for upcoming chapter meetings and events and working to locate and arrange for speakers on the selected topics. Our first such event is titled “Thinking Outside of the (Pizza) Box: Creative Tech Communication at Domino’s” and will be an interactive discussion of how Domino’s uses innovative and engaging technical communication to promote their many products to their customers. The meeting will be held at the offices of Thomson Reuters in Dexter, Michigan, beginning with registration and networking at 6:30 PM on Tuesday, October 29. Lisa is also working on a host of other ideas and speakers for future events, so keep checking the STC/SM website for more details as they become available.
I could tell you about even more ideas that we have for making STC/SM your “local STC home,” but it would be much more fun to do so in person or one on one. So feel free to drop me a line at [email protected] or, better yet, plan on attending an upcoming STC/SM program meeting, networking lunch or other event so we can discuss together how to best move our chapter forward.
Looking forward to seeing each of you at an STC/SM event soon,
This is an exciting year for our chapter! Several members are offering their time and expertise with the chapter and their efforts are already adding value and energy to the chapter.
Pat Martz, Webmaster: Pat has been busy redesigning the STC-SM chapter website. The redesign simplifies and streamlines the site, both improving the user experience and reducing the complexity of updating and maintaining information. This helps us get information out to our members faster. Pat is a principal in Inkberry Solutions, an Ann Arbor-based company that focuses on technical communication for small firms. She has a background in the sciences and completed an M.S. degree in Technical and Professional Communication at Lawrence Technological University. As STC-SM Webmaster, Pat was assisted in evaluating the website by Lawrence Technological University graduate student Pam Finger. We are very grateful for the work Pat and Pam have already done and look forward to continued improvements to the site.
Pam Finger is a candidate in the Master of Science in Technical and Professional Communication program at Lawrence Tech. Pam’s practicum includes gathering information from users for the redesign. Pam and Pat Martz held an interactive program event in September in which they solicited feedback from attendees on the usability, flow, look, feel and prioritization of content. Pam’s upbeat style and energy in addition to her openness to ideas and feedback are sure to make her practicum as well as the STC-SM website redesign end product a great success!
Jack DeLand, Professional Liaison: Jack is already busy finding synergies with other groups such as local area businesses and professional associations to cross-promote and support events and information to members across the field. Jack is a Certified Scrum Master and Agile practitioner with 30 years in the software and engineering documentation games. Jack has lectured on help systems at STC events and at the WritersUA conference, and is widely known for creating the interactive multimedia version of the Microsoft® Windows® Resource Kits documentation set. Jack’s degrees are in English and German, but he is most proud of his internship in Organizational Development with Dr. Larry Lippitt of the National Training Laboratories.
Susan Fisher, Secretary: In 1980, with a Master’s degree from the University of Michigan’s School of Art & Design behind her, Sue started a career as a technical communicator, writing user instructions for a computer company. Soon thereafter, she joined STC-SM and then moved into the company’s new training function. Thirty years later, she’s lead instructional designer and performance consultant at Innovative Learning Group (www.innovativeLG.com) in Royal Oak — but she’s still a tech writer at heart! Sue’s current big interest is mobile learning and performance support. In 2012, she presented sessions on designing learning solutions for mobile delivery at the mLearnCon Mobile Learning Conference & Expo in San Jose and the Chicago eLearning & Technology Showcase. She’s also slated to present at the American Society for Training & Development’s 2013 International Conference in Dallas.
Sharon McDonnell, Newsletter / Blog Manager: Sharon is a senior analyst in Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan’s Provider Relations department and has been an active volunteer with our chapter since 1998. Sharon began volunteering with us as assistant to the Webmaster, followed by program registration and assistance and then Treasurer. This year she is working closely with Pat and Pam on implementing a blog on the STC-SM website. Have something you’d like to add to our blog? Send to Sharon at [email protected].
Returning Volunteers / Council members are Maryann Bowen (Immediate Past President), Tom Glennan (Vice President and Educational Liaison), Barry Matthews (Treasurer), Deb Stacy (Job Board / Listserv), Mary Jo David (Membership Chairperson) and me as your 2013 President and Publicity Manager.
Thank you to all STC-SM members and chapter volunteers. We’re always looking for suggestions for blog articles and program event speakers from our members and volunteers. Feel free to send any ideas along to Sharon at [email protected] or to me at [email protected].