First Fridays at 5: Student Liaison Report

By Ruth-Anne Klassen

Our IDL Student Liaisons enjoyed working on the First Fridays at 5 program in 2021. First Fridays @ 5 offered students a chance to practise presenting and hosting a meeting. Those who challenged themselves to take on this opportunity met a friendly audience and learned from a supportive community.

At May’s meeting, Megan and Anita talked about the benefits of joining the IDL SIG as student members. Student members have access to career-building resources like free webinars, competitions, and volunteer opportunities. Along with joining the conversation on Slack, students can participate in the IDL community to learn from other technical communicators. 

For the June virtual gathering, Anita shared her experience converting her in-person quilting guild to a digital group. She described how she engaged people who were not previously familiar with online formats, hosted a flipped classroom (in which participants review material before class and work on assignments during class time), and created effective quilting manuals for the class.

July’s First Friday was a time to network, often drawing from Zoom virtual backgrounds to give inspiration for the conversation. We talked about past experiences with science museums and hobbies and looked forward to future STC events.

Anita hosted the August meeting with a presentation about how to use Slack effectively. She addressed topics like how to create or edit a profile, how to manage notifications, how to manage availability status, and how to send a message to a channel or individual.

In September, Ruth-Anne led us in showing parts of our lives in Zoom Virtual Backgrounds. We witnessed travel pictures, admired pets or family members, and got to know both new and familiar attendees better.

Kristie talked in the October meeting about the need for precise communication in technical writing and in life. Based on her experience as a patient in the healthcare system, she spoke about how words like “treatment” can have ambiguous meanings, so it is important to choose words wisely.

Ruth-Anne led November’s meeting with insight and ideas about working in a multi-generational workplace. Diverse age groups contribute to the workforce, and this diversity presents the possibility for conflict, but also for respect and collaboration. In the conversation that followed, we discussed how we respect people, such as by using their preferred name and being aware of our unconscious biases.

At the December get-together we told personal and professional stories, ranging from funny to embarrassing. Some stories involved mistaken 911 calls and the struggle of finding the right winter boot size. Folks also exchanged stories of faulty tech comm translations to other languages and unpleasant clients.

This past year, students have enjoyed improving their skills and learning from other members as they work to become better technical communicators. Next year, we are welcoming anyone interested to present at First Fridays @ 5 meetups. If you would like to get involved in this way, contact to discuss further. 


Ruth-Anne Klassen

Student Liaison, IDL SIG

Virtual Open House 2021

The Annual IDL SIG Virtual Open House, Nov. 12, 7-8 PM ET


We had a blast at the 9th Annual Virtual Open House. Check it out and connect with us.

Video on YouTube

Slides as pdf on our website

Want to learn more about the IDL SIG and meet some of our members?
If you said yes, join us Friday, November 12, from 7-8pm Eastern Time for our ninth annual Virtual Open House! You’ll get to learn more about the services we offer, as well as meet some of our volunteers.
Plus, we will have a door prize drawing for one $25 Amazon gift card. You must be present to win.
Register here for FREE!!:

Announcing the Tech Comm Nightmares Before Christmas Contest!

image © Disney, Touchstone Pictures

By Mellissa Ruryk

Cue the spooky music…

STC’s 2020 Most Improved Community—Instructional Design & Learning SIG—is holding a fun social event and contest open to all STC members.

Contest details

To enter the contest, write a short (500 word) description of your worst nightmare connected to your work as a technical communicator, that actually happened to you. Names can be changed to protect the guilty!

Were you teaching a class with your fly open? Burst a button on your blouse revealing your bra? Wardrobe malfunctions aside, how about missing a typo in the company name on the front page of the new brochure, printed on the most expensive paper ever?  How about printing 100s of a new SOP with the approving VP’s name misspelled?

Practitioners, bring us your worst technical communication disasters. Your pain can be your gain! STC student members will judge the entries and award 3 prizes. 

Send your contest entries to before November 30, 2021.


Judging criteria will be along the lines of:

  • How many people saw the mistake?
  • What was the dollar cost and/or number of hours to recover from the nightmare?
  • How long did you work on the project without clueing into the nightmare?

Announcing the Winners

On Fri, December 3, 2021, from 5:00 PM – 6:00 PM EST at the IDL’s First Fridays @ Five Zoom social, we’ll announce the winners and ask the authors to read their entry to us. All entries will also be published in the Q4 issue of our award-winning IDeaL newsletter (publication date: December 31, 2021).

Free Registration for all!

Please register for the event so we can stay in touch with you and send you friendly reminders.

Register to attend even if you are not submitting a nightmare. We need an audience!

It’s free to attend for all:

  • Students
  • academics
  • practitioners
  • STC members
  • STC non-members
  • job seekers
  • volunteers
  • future volunteers
  • curious explorers


The IDL SIG has a couple of corporate sponsors who are generously underwriting the prizes:

  • First prize is a $35 Amazon gift card, courtesy of TEK-Right Consulting Ltd.
  • Second prize is a $25 Amazon gift card, courtesy of Imperial Productions
  • Third prize is a $15 Amazon gift card, also courtesy of Imperial Productions

And, yes: if you’ve messed up more than once—go ahead and submit more than one NIGHTMARE!

Featured Article: 2021 Leadership Program: The STC Superheroes Journey (May 19, 2021)

Mellissa Ruryk

I went to the virtual Leadership event on May 19, 2021, and had an informative, fun time.  “Leadership Day” is usually held in person at the Summit, so it was great to see more people (than just those registered for the Summit) attend. Ann Marie Queeney ran the show and announced the Community Achievement Award winners, the Pacesetter winners , and Distinguished Service award winners. Our IDL SIG won a bronze CAA award and Lori Meyers received a Distinguished SIG Service award for all her valuable volunteer input.

There were 4 breakout sessions in the last half hour of the event, and I chose to attend the one on Student Outreach, run by John Clement. His information centered on student chapters at universities, which was not the info I was looking for or expected. However, he made some good points:

  • In order to increase attendance at your community education events, ask what your members want to learn about (rather than relying on thinking you know what they want).
  • Ask your members what topic in technical communication they can share on, help them learn presentation skills
  • Provide as many networking opportunities as possible, perhaps centering on career readiness, résumé writing, interview tips and techniques, etc.

Even though I’m a senior TW and have held many positions in the IDL and 2 geographic chapters, I still like to attend Leadership day because I can always learn more about how to volunteer more effectively.

Viqui Dill

Congratulations to the STC CAC team for organizing a great Leadership themed event, 2021 Leadership Program: The STC Superheroes Journey recognizing the superhero in all of us. Anne Marie Queenie and her team put together an informative and engaging session. We were encouraged to use the chat to interact with friends, old and new. Then there were the presentations celebrating accomplishments through the year. With so much going on, I barely had time to text with my STC pals as the show went on LOL. Seriously, the CAC caped champions showed us how it’s done!

Anita Matechuk

The CAC virtual leadership program was a great way to learn about STC. As a new member, exploring how to create a successful SIG and chapter has really helped me understand how STC can support me in my journey into a career in technical communication.

I started just taking the free webinars but soon registered to become an STC superhero. Seeing all the awards and the process involved in winning them showed me the possibilities for an active STC member. It was great listening to all the experienced STC members discussing what they probably considered common insights in this new and exciting world.

Jamye Sagan

For the second year in a row, the CAC hosted its leadership program virtually. In only two hours, we got to hear from STC leadership, recognize community award winners, and learn about clever initiatives from Pacesetter Award-winning communities. Our program ended with a choice of breakout sessions; I co-hosted the CAA one. It’s always a treat to chat with my STC friends and meet new ones.