Thinking Back on My Student Article Writing Competition Experience, One Year Later

By Ruth-Anne Klassen, Student Liaison

As we coordinate this year’s IDL Student Article Writing Competition (SAWC), I am reflecting on my experience entering a piece in the 2022 competition. The process of presenting my topic and submitting an article seemed insignificant to me. However, the experience seemed more impressive when my article continued for publishing in STC’s newsletter. I hope to encourage potential contestants in the competition, and other new technical communicators, to expose their work to new audiences.


It started when I wrote an article based on the First Fridays @ 5 session I hosted in November 2021. First Fridays are one of IDL’s opportunities for students to build skills, and I gave a presentation on working with different generations in the workforce. Afterward, I wrote an article summarizing the presentation and discussion that followed. Our SAWC Coordinator at the time, Melissa, encouraged me to enter the article in the Competition, as well as submit the article for consideration in Intercom

After the revision process with a member of IDL and the editor of Intercom, events worked in my favor. I was one of two award-winners for SAWC. My work received a mention and preview link in the Q1 2022 issue of IDeaL. Later that year, the article appeared in the November/December 2022 issue of Intercom. So, in the span of a year, I went from giving a presentation for my Special Interest Group to being published in the newsletter of STC! Now, instead of just my SIG knowing about it, members of my local chapter reached to congratulate me.

We cannot predict how or if our efforts today will lead to greater achievements, and we can only focus our energy on so many things at a time. Still, knowing what I know now, I hope to do the following things when working on an article for publication:

  • See the good in my writing, or the potential for it to be better. I did not think my article was anything special. Highlighting the good in the article might have helped me to accentuate the great elements of the article.
  • Think about my audience, and what they want or need to hear. This is practical advice for technical writers, and I would have benefitted from considering the audience of technical writers and other professionals that I was targeting.
  • Embrace feedback without blowing it out of proportion. Especially while revising the article for Intercom, I falsely interpreted feedback as criticism about the piece in general. But feedback and correction are how we learn, and soon I learned how to improve my article. 

After entering a piece in the SAWC, I think that the competition has great potential to help students and other new technical writers develop their skills. I hope that others try entering a piece in the competition and see where the experience takes them.