As I get closer to graduating and entering the professional world of technical communication, I feel increasing anxiety about taking this leap. However, being a part of the STC-SM mentorship program has lessened my anxiety and helped prepare me for this transition. I would expect my experience is common and this is one of the many reasons why I recommend others become mentees. Having someone to go to for advice, or to review job application materials, will make this process smoother. I feel like I have someone in my corner to help me, and I want others to experience that same support. Continue reading “STC-SM’s Mentoring Program Through a Mentee’s Eyes”
The STC-SM chapter launched a mentoring program during the 2017-2018 program year. The program is open to college students close to graduation and adults considering a career change.
After volunteering, I was matched with two mentees: a student at Eastern Michigan University and a professional in the Bay Area (California) who is switching careers. Here are some brief thoughts about my experience. Continue reading “STC-SM’s Mentoring Program Through a Mentor’s Eyes”
We are thrilled to welcome Katherine Baeckeroot to the STC-SM executive council as our newly appointed vice president. She will take the helm as chapter president in the summer of 2019. We look forward to Katherine’s contributions as we continue to work together on goals that will provide value for our chapter members and the professional community. So you can get to know her a bit better, Katherine was kind enough to answer a few question for us. Please join us in welcoming our new VP! Continue reading “Meet Our New Vice President, Katherine Baeckeroot”
Throughout his tenure as a member of the Southeastern Michigan Chapter of STC, Thomas Glennan has been consistent, dedicated, and extremely professional. After a long career as a mechanical engineer, Tom undertook a career shift to technical communication and hasn’t looked back. Tom regularly shares his valuable career and business insight with other members of the STC/SM chapter through leading, presenting, and teaching.
Most recently, Tom served as Vice President and then President of our chapter. As president, he brought consistency to the role and a solid understanding of how to run meetings and hold others accountable for commitments and deadlines in a positive way. His work in the chapter has spanned other roles as well, including Secretary and Education Liaison. As an engineer, a college instructor, and the owner of a technical communication business, Tom is uniquely qualified to positively and practically influence his students and chapter members who are training to be future technical communicators. Even before he held an elected or named position on our chapter Council, he served as an unofficial professional liaison. As an active member of multiple STC chapters, he has helped us form new or stronger connections with those chapters, especially our neighbors in Northeast Ohio STC. He has also used his membership in SAE International to promote awareness of STC—and the technical communication profession in general—in the automotive engineering community.
What is your educational background? How long have you been a member of (volunteer with) STC? In what STC positions have you served? (In what roles have you volunteered?)
I earned my B.A. in English from Northern Arizona University (NAU) in Flagstaff, AZ. During my years as an undergrad, I learned about the Master’s program in Rhetoric, Composition, and Professional Writing offered through the English department at NAU. It sounded like the perfect graduate program for me, so I stayed on to complete my M.A. and also earned a certificate in Professional Writing. Continue reading “STC-SM Member Spotlight – Alison Phillips”
What is your educational background? Why did you decide to pursue technical communication as a career?
I earned Bachelor and Master of Fine Arts degrees from the University of Michigan School of Art & Design in the 1970s. Soon afterward, however, when the “school of reality” hit home, I took a job as a documentation specialist with a computer services company. I found I was good at researching technical topics and explaining them to others. When the company’s documentation group added a training function, I jumped into that. I’ve been an instructional designer ever since — although I still consider myself a technical communicator above all. In fact, last year I earned the Certified Professional Technical Communicator (CPTC) designation from STC.
How long have you been a member of STC? In what STC positions have you served?
I’ve been a member of STC and the Southeastern Michigan chapter since 1982. Having gotten into the tech comm field more or less by accident, I had little idea of its professional development opportunities — until a co-worker told me about STC. I joined and discovered a whole new world of concepts, information, and people doing exciting thinking and work in the field. For most of the past 30 years I’ve been only a consumer of STC services. I was finally persuaded to give something back in 2012, when I agreed to be nominated as secretary of STC-SM. I’m currently serving my second term.
Where are you currently employed? What are your job activities? What do you find most interesting or satisfying about your job?
I’m employed at Innovative Learning Group in Royal Oak. Continue reading “Member Spotlight: Susan Fisher”
What is your educational background? How long have you been a member of STC? In what STC positions have you served?
I have a Bachelor of Science in Botany and a Bachelor of Forestry from SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry, and a Master of Science in Technical and Professional Communication, completed in May 2012, at Lawrence Tech. I have been an STC member since 2009, and I took over as webmaster in late May 2012.
Why did you decide to pursue technical communication as a career?
It pursued me!
My undergraduate education was extremely heavy in science, math, and technology. When I was offered a contract position as an indexing editor for UMI, I took it and started my professional life indexing biology, chemistry, engineering, and math dissertation abstracts.
Most of my working life I have been a self-taught graphic designer who also edits, writes copy, and illustrates. “Self-taught” is a secret code for “I read a lot about what I do, about the things that influence how I do what I do, and I look at a lot of different types of communication and talk to people to see what works and what doesn’t.”
My daughter pointed out that I was a technical communicator after she did a multiyear time audit of my project work. Boy, was I surprised. There’s a name for it.
Why did you decide to join STC?
Having learned that I had been in technical communication for all these years, I wanted to learn more about the possibilities, so I joined STC.
Where are you currently employed?
I run my own business, Inkberry Solutions, and I am an adjunct professor at Lawrence Tech.
What are your job activities? What do you find most interesting and/or satisfying about your job?
Currently, the focus is on proposals—consulting on process, developmental and technical editing, and building a custom database system to manage content for future proposals. I do a lot of other things as well: graphic design, illustration, simple websites, and teaching the “why” and “how” to clients—a lot of “why,” but not as much “how.” The best part of my work life is the wide variety of projects.
What are some examples of projects you are particularly proud of?
I built a database system that tackles the administrative end of a five-year federal project to produce thousands of fixed-priced environmental reports about parcels of land. The database allows my client to handle heavy bouts of report-writing while keeping track of where each one is in the process, and maintaining profitability.
How has being an STC member helped you with your career?
It has exposed me to some new ideas, and it has given me some exposure.
What advice do you have for students as they are entering the field of technical communication?
Keep learning. Read, including about things outside your particular area. Talk to people. Write. Draw. Paint. Learn a craft. Keep looking at the rhetorical bent and the design of communications, especially when you are the end user. How does it affect you? How would you improve it?
What else would you like our readers to know about you?
The joke is on me. I spent my undergraduate college career studiously avoiding anything and everything having to do with English, and now I work predominantly with words.
1. What is your educational background? How long have you been a member of STC? In what STC positions have you served? I have a Bachelor’s degree in English Literature from the University of Waterloo (Ontario) and I’ve been a member of STC for about 12 years. I served as the membership manager a few years ago.
2. Why did you decide to join STC? I had heard about STC from others at my workplace who, at the time, were on the council. I thought that joining STC would be a good way to meet other writers and gain some insight into the profession of technical communications.
3. Why did you decide to pursue technical communication as a career? In my last job, I was responsible for creating internal procedure manuals for a large computer department, which I found challenging and rewarding. A full-time opportunity arose in 1999 that provided an excellent opportunity to hone those skills and move directly into the profession as a technical writer.
4. Where are you currently employed? I am currently employed as a Senior Technical Writer at Thomson Reuters in Dexter, Michigan.
5. What are your job activities? What do you find most interesting and/or satisfying about your job? I enjoy the collaborative aspect of my job, working with other writers on my team and with subject matter experts to update and create user assistance for our customers. I also enjoy the technical aspect of my job, which involves troubleshooting and evaluating tools that we use on a day-to-day basis.
6. What are some examples of projects you are particularly proud of? I most enjoy the creative aspect of developing user assistance from scratch. I played a major role in the development of online user assistance for an audit engagement product that has won some awards for excellence in the accounting software industry. Our team is currently developing user assistance for the next generation of a similar accounting product.
7. How has being an STC member helped you with your career? Being a member of STC has provided me with an opportunity to broaden my understanding of this multifaceted profession by exchanging ideas and experiences with others in the field.
8. What advice do you have for students as they are entering the field oftechnical communication? I would say that if you keep an open mind, and abandon any preconceived notions about what the profession is all about, you will be surprised at how diverse the field is and the opportunities that it offers.
9. What else would you like our readers to know about you? I have great conversations with my dogs, because as Dave Barry says: “You can say any fool thing to a dog, and the dog will give you this look that says, `My God, you’re RIGHT! I NEVER would’ve thought of that!'”