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 firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss further.
Student Liaison, IDL SIG