By Marcia Shannon, Membership Manager
Our SIG continued to welcome new and returning members throughout second quarter. I spent a bit of time analyzing the membership roster because I was curious about who joins IDL. About half the members have been STC members for fewer than ten years, an indication of growing interest in the SIG among newer tech comm professionals and students. Students and new tech comm professionals are 14% and 9% of our membership. There are several ways to segment our SIG population, but these figures interested me the most. They represent a group of TC practitioners and students who participate in growing the profession and themselves. Thanks for being here.
I had an unexpected adventure this Spring, planting a different kind of seed. I was invited talk about technical communication at an elementary school Career Day. Having never raised children, this was an unfamiliar point of view, but a welcome challenge to share how an early love of words and reading led me to a most satisfying career.
The audience consisted of third through sixth graders, in three groups. The school provided a set of questions so I had a framework to figure out what to share.
- What is a typical day like for you?
- Describe the career path (education/training) and salary range.
- What do you like most about your job?
- What do you like least about your job?
After so many years of adult to adult conversations, crafting answers for youngsters was a mind-bending experience, way out of my comfort zone. I tied my descriptions to our local economy and university, giving examples of familiar companies where technical writers and editors work. The teachers were delighted when I described how often technical writer job postings require “impeccable grammar.” They also approved when I described how teachers use instructional design to plan their lessons.
Presenters had ten minutes to address these questions and five minutes for questions from the students. The kids asked good questions: How do you become a writer? How can you become a good writer? Do game companies need technical writers? Is a college education required? They were curious about where to get jobs and relieved that remote work is becoming more popular for large and small companies.
The best part of this experience was the opportunity to introduce technical communication to children who are several years from high school graduation. I hope that I awakened an interest in some nascent writers to explore technical communication careers.