I’m on my fourth career. I started as an aerospace engineer, taught myself Visual Basic and became a programmer/analyst, got a master’s in education and briefly flirted with becoming a math teacher, and then decided to check out this thing called “technical writing.”
One of the first things I did was look for a way to meet people. I found the Society for Technical Communication and a chapter that met 15 minutes from my home. I started attending meetings, learning more about the profession I wanted to enter. I made contacts and friends.
At one of the early meetings I attended, I met a recruiter and a blogger. I mustered my courage to speak to both of them after the meeting and received some advice and a few contacts that would, ultimately, lead to my dream job at Facebook. Though not for about 18 months.
The advice was to find an open source project and start contributing. This was really key for me, since I had no professional technical writing experience. My work on an Apache open source project lead to my becoming a “committer”, which gave my resume some much-needed gravitas. Not only that, but I produced several items for my portfolio that I could link to from my website.
The contacts were less immediately helpful, as often happens with networking. There was a brief flurry of possibility, but then my contact changed jobs and that was that. Until I received an email over a year later that quickly lead to an interview, and a job offer.
Here are some of the benefits I received, in addition to making the contacts that lead to my current position at Facebook. EBSTC
- Steered me toward Lynda.com as a means of improving my technical skills
- Introduced me to TC Camp, which is just an awesome technical writing experience
- Provided presentations on technical writing topics at the monthly dinner meetings
- Provided exposure to other tech writer’s websites, which helped me decide what I wanted to have on my professional website
- Provided friends and encouragement
It is not an exaggeration to say that, without the STC—specifically the East Bay Chapter—I would not have the job and career I now enjoy.