by Ruth-Anne Klassen
This past June, I worked as a Student Volunteer for the Society of Technical Communication Summit. It was my first time at the conference, and I learned a lot about STC’s programs and opportunities. Technical communicators come to Summit to improve in the areas of writing, technology, career and leadership, and wellness. Because the event was held virtually, attendees could join from anywhere in the world.
The conference offered both work-related and casual experiences. There were daily opportunities for networking with STC leadership as well as with other conference attendees. Some sessions offered a presenter, giving tips and tricks on using common software, or promoting a promising technology. Others addressed common frustrations that technical communicators experience—such as unresponsive SMEs—and some examined what diversity and inclusion looks like for professionals. The wide range of topics covered offered attendees many benefits for their careers. Along with professional development sessions, attendees also took in entertainment, such as a magician’s show. To appreciate work and achievements from the past year, the STC Honors Event recognized award and scholarship recipients, along with showcasing artistic talent from STC members and guest musician Rich Franklin.
While technical communication professionals learned about forwarding their craft and career, I garnered a rich experience from helping attendees and helping STC achieve their missions and goals. Live speaker sessions presented via Zoom gave attendees the feel of a live event, while SimuLive sessions in the Engagez platform allowed speakers and attendees to interact during pre-recorded presentations. In both types of sessions, I supported attendees by monitoring the chat feed for questions, either directed at the speakers or asking for technical support. If live presenters preferred, I would read questions and comments to them. I also checked the clock on live sessions, notifying speakers when they were almost out of time. For SimuLive sessions I ensured that the presenter’s PowerPoint presentation and any supporting documents were accessible to the audience.
Along with helping conference attendees, I represented the STC by reminding conference attendees about the feedback surveys, where they could tell the STC about what did or did not work in the sessions, and in the conference in general.
I also benefited from volunteering at the conference. As a big-time introvert, it was a great learning experience for me to interact with speakers and attendees. I met other student volunteers and other STC members that would be in my corner while I launch my career as a technical writer. The best part was learning that STC members are a passionate, knowledgeable group of people who are a blast to be around. In short, the STC Summit 2021 was a valuable and fulfilling event, and I would recommend that people join us at Summit 2022!