From the (Former) Editor’s Desk

Technical Communicators of Florida and Beyond,

Long time, no see! It’s been about a year since the last time I had a hand in the publication process of Memo to Members.

I’m just stopping by today to help out with this month’s edition and drop a little shameless self-promotion while I’m at it. In addition to a fantastic recap of our March Employment Panel by STC Student Writer Shawn Menard and some promo materials from our recent chapter meeting, I’m here to hype up a chapter-sponsored workshop this Saturday!

Said workshop is titled Visualizing your Career in Tech Comm, and is totally free to attend either in-person at the University of Central Florida or online from the comfort of home. Yours truly will be co-running the event alongside our chapter’s president Bethany Aguad (hence the shameless self-promo). I share more details about this workshop in the article below.

Onward and Upward,

Nick Ducharme
Vice President
vicepresident@stc-orlando.org

Chapter Workshop This Saturday

Workshop: Visualizing Your Career in Tech Comm

Nick Ducharme

By: Nick Ducharme
Vice President
Florida Chapter, STC

Friends,

One of my goals as VP this year was to help bring about at least one Saturday workshop with both virtual and in-person attendance options. The results of our summer 2018 survey have driven several of our initiatives this year, and a lot of you demonstrated a particular interest in workshops. Some of you have also stated that a long Saturday workshop can offer a compelling incentive for people from outside the Central Florida area (people we normally do not get to network with in-person) to drive out our way. More bang for your buck in a single visit when compared to an hour-long chapter meeting on a weeknight. And we agree! It makes perfect sense.

So here it is: a workshop titled Visualizing Your Career in Tech Comm! Please join us this Saturday, April 27th from 9 am to 12:30 pm EST.

This workshop session, hosted by the University of Central Florida, is free for both members and nonmembers to attend either in-person or online. It is designed not only for newcomers to the technical communication field, but also established tech comm professionals thinking about that next big career step. We will be covering:

  • Career Paths in Technical Communication
  • Résumé Checklist and Peer Review
  • Job Search and Placement Strategies (including examples of real tech comm job postings in Florida right now)
  • And more!

Those who attend in-person will also have access to water, coffee, and donuts on us. And for those so inclined, we will be having a social after the workshop at Bahama Breeze in nearby Waterford Lakes.

Please click here to RSVP for this workshop.

Please click here fill out the Tech Comm Career Interest Assessment, which will be driving part of the workshop discussion, and also upload your résumé when prompted if you would like to take part in the optional Résumé Peer Review.

Please click here to RVSP for the Bahama Breeze meetup after the workshop if you are interested in further in-person networking. (There will be separate checks for this lunch, but no other cost.)

 

Thank You,
Nick

March Meeting Recap

Shawn Menard

By: Shawn Menard
STC Student Writer
Florida Chapter, STC

To those who were unable to attend the meeting on the 19th of March, our STC chapter hosted its Annual Employment Panel at Perkins Restaurant and Bakery. The atmosphere was lively with attendees engaging in intense mastication and conversation before the scheduled beginning of the meeting.

The meeting followed a question and answer format with online and in-person members contributing technical communication employment questions and concerns to the eager and knowledgeable panelists. The panel consisted of professionals who interact daily with Technical Communicators: Scott Dorsett, Jeff Wayman, Stephanie Young, and Andre Evans. You can read their bios on the chapter website: Meet the Panelists.

The purpose of the Q & A session was to dispense advice regarding how to present yourself through your resume and subsequent interview. There were various responses from each panelist, reflecting their experiences, but my main takeaway from the employment panel was to be yourself during an interview. Never lie about your abilities and accomplishments. However, you must be able to sell yourself. To do so, learn how to have a good conversation. Interviewing is storytelling, and you must be able to tell a good story.

When it comes to your experiences and skills, you must be able to speak clearly with confidence about your role. When asked about your work, you should be able to articulate how you did you do something and why you did it that way. To demonstrate your visionary skills, be prepared to respond to hypothetical situations and describe your solutions. They are looking for applicants who can consume content, form an opinion, and clearly explain it.

Outside of the actual interview, there is more work to be done. Research the company you are applying for, understand the role you are applying for, and become familiar with tools the role requires. You should have familiarity with similar technology required for the role you are applying for, but you can also be adaptable. Do not worry; they will give you time to learn the tools.

When it came to the actual resume, the quickest way to get rejected is to have a single misspelling. I found this bit of advice fully understandable as we are writers and it is our role to clearly and effectively communicate. Errors lead to miscommunication, which is a waste of time, energy, and money.

The last message was one of comfort and reassurance: Your path will be long and winding. Have the courage to step outside your comfort zone and take chances.

Hype Materials from the April Chapter Meeting

FORMER EDITOR’S NOTE: You might notice this promo is being posted after its subject meeting has already occurred. Feel free to skip it! This article is mostly for archival purposes. 🙂

STC Florida Chapter Open Forum on Technical Communication

Nick Ducharme

By: Nick Ducharme
Vice President
Florida Chapter, STC

Friends,

Sometimes in technical communication, as in life, less is more. I will be following that philosophy with this description of the April chapter meeting.

Simply put, this month’s topic…is up to you!

On Thursday, April 18th from 7:00 to 8:30 pm EST, we will host our first fully online chapter meeting. We call it the STC Florida Chapter Open Forum on Technical Communication. The goal is networking. The goal is also to facilitate discussions about whatever tech comm topics and questions are on your mind. Please seize this golden opportunity to shape the discussions we will be having.

We need your input. Please share your topic ideas and questions here!

Also, please RSVP here!

Upcoming STC Webinars

We hope you enjoyed this edition of Memo to Members. Meanwhile, here are some webinars you can consider attending over the next month or so…


Nurturing Future STEM Communicators in the Healthcare Field

Wednesday, 21 March 2018

Creating, mentoring and nurturing future STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) communication enthusiasts, to interpret and decipher mind, body and soul of medical science and healthcare, among general, wider audiences. The new generation of STEM communicators will simplify complex and technical medical information in a simple and effective way, to patients and their family members, to reap benefits of vast healthcare knowledge!


TechComm Fundamentals Bootcamp Asynchronous

Monday, 26 March 2018 – Monday, 7 May 2018

This is an Asynchronous (self-paced) course. Attendees will be able to complete the course at their own paced and complete deadlines without meeting for live sessions every week. Technical communication is an exciting and challenging career that offers unlimited opportunity for professional development. But to succeed, it’s not enough to learn a desktop publishing or Help authoring tool—you need to master the analysis process. This is a thinking person’s dream career! TechComm Fundamentals Bootcamp is the fastest, most efficient way to jump-start your career in technical communication.ÊIt covers key theory that you can immediately apply to your work. It also gives you the skills you need to continue to learn and grow. Each element of theory is presented with hands-on exercises, real-world examples, and plenty of discussion. The course is sure to leave you feeling enthusiastic and well prepared to get started in the field


Improving Content Quality by Using Automated Tools

Wednesday, 28 March 2018

This session is designed to empower content development teams to run automated tests and improve the quality of their deliverables. With a bit of code, anyone can build tools that identify common content nits. Learning objectives: – Discover that common tasks can be automated – Describe tooling that can be used to develop automation – Apply the outlined methodology to make automation goals achievable – Collect code examples that can be built upon – Find education and support

Telemedicine: Implementation and Implications for TC

Wednesday, 4 April 2018

Telemedicine is a new, modern medical system integrating medical facilities, physicians, patients, communications, and technology. Albeit many benefits to telemedicine, there are several barriers to implementation and patient and consumer uptake. Technical communicators’ consideration for usability, audience, context, and affect in their creation and delivery of health and medical communications enables them to offer significant contributions to the e-health field, both in scholarly research and developing more effective communications that can impact global health and medical care.

Proposal Writing in Context

Thursday, 5 April 2018 – Thursday, 10 May 2018

Proposal writing can be lucrative and fun work, but there are many different types of proposals and many different recommendations for writing them, so it can be difficult to know where to start. This course introduces professional writers to different types of funded proposals and explains different methods for writing proposals well. From analysis to writing to editing, this course explains some fundamental concepts that apply to most funded proposal types, so you can understand the context for how proposals operate and how writers write them.

Nine Writers, Nine Agile Teams, One Voice

Wednesday, 11 April 2018

Nine writers on nine Agile teams, plus API docs, internal and developer documentation, tutorial videos, and maintenance? It sounds like a recipe for disaster, but it’s day-to-day life for cPanel’s 10-person documentation department. This session will outline how we use specialized workflows, a peer review process, and a writer-as-developer mindset to produce quality documentation without stepping on each other’s toes or drowning in the waterfall.

Introduction to Science Writing

Wednesday, 11 April 2018 – Wednesday, 16 May 2018

This is an Asynchronous online course and there is no time range. All attendees must complete this course within the 6-week timeframe. The focus of this class will be writing material that popularizes or presents scientific information to general audiences. This is important for those who are exploring science writing as a career or for those of you who are exploring content marketing, public relations or writing for general audiences. The writing strengths that are demanded in this area – maintaining reader interest and providing understanding of very complex subject matter – will carry over into all of our writing efforts and in the professional setting beyond this class

Using Web Analytics to Improve Content Effectiveness

Wednesday, 18 April 2018

New delivery channels mean new tools to make our jobs easier. Web Analytics is one of those tools. When we deliver content online, Web Analytics can become the voice of our user for any content delivered in a browser or app. By analyzing analytics data, we can tell what people are looking for; what they are staying and reading; and when they are thrashing around in our content, unable to find the answers that they need.

Four Ways to Make Your Copywriting Persuasive

Wednesday, 25 April 2018

This webinar will address how to motivate readers and how to bust myths that lead to the creation of clichéd and tired content. Attendees will gain awareness of why used-car sales pitches do not get results in our modern world. Main points covered will focus on how to cut meaningless phrases, how to use numbers to show readers specifics, how to get to the point, and, finally, the importance of focusing on value.

Please take advantage of these great webinars. 🙂

From the Editor’s Desk

nick2016

Nick Ducharme

Technical Communicators of Florida and Beyond,

On this, my three-year anniversary as your Memo to Members editor, I would like to you all to know that it has been an honor to serve in this role. I mentioned back in December’s edition that I have decided to pass on this honor to a worthy successor so that I may explore other roles within the chapter. My successor and I have already initiated the knowledge transfer process, which will continue up to just before the May 20-23 STC Technical Communication Summit in Orlando. I will then hand over the reins once and for all. In fact, this edition of MtM was co-edited by my Newsletter Apprentice—a title that will soon be outdated, as she is rapidly mastering the craft.

So, without any further delay, I am pleased to introduce your new Memo to Members editor for mid-2018 and on. Please give it up for…

Emily Wells!

Emily Wells, Newsletter Apprentice for STC (Orlando Central) Florida!

Emily, a recent University of Central Florida (UCF) graduate, has been very active in bridging the gap between our STC chapter and the Future Technical Communicators (FTC) club of UCF. In fact, she served as student co-manager (with STC Fellow Dan Voss) in coordinating our internationally recognized  student mentoring program—which partners established technical writers with FTC students—through the 2016–2017 academic year and the first semester of the 2017–2018 year before transitioning that position to Misty Arner to take on her Newsletter Apprenticeship.

With her uproarious wit and proven dedication, I have no doubt that Emily will soon do great things as Communications Manager and Newsletter Editor for our chapter.

 

 

Holy segues, dear communicators! Speaking of FTC and UCF…

It’s time for our annual FTC/STC joint meeting at UCF!

FTC at UCF and the Orlando Central Florida (OCF) Chapter of the Society for Technical Communication (STC) will be hosting a mini-conference on technical communication on Tuesday, February 13 in the UCF Student Union 316A from 6:30-8:30 p.m. This year’s mini-conference will employ a rotational method of lectures called a progression. The meeting comprises three 25-minute miniature seminars at venues (aka, tables), each festooned with a balloon color-coded for the presenter’s subject.

Admission is free, and anyone interested in technical communication is invited.

The traditional multi-hued balloons will flutter above the six progression tables (a.k.a., venues) as the annual FTC/STC meeting comes to the Student Union Building at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, February 13, at UCF. The program is entitled “Reach the Summit—at the Conference and in Your Career.”

The focus of the February 13 meeting at UCF is on the upcoming 65th annual STC international conference coming to Orlando May 20-23 (Summit 2018) and on the diverse career paths available within the technical communication field.

Offering a wealth of knowledge conveyed in a carnival-like package, this informative and festive event combines professional growth. Admission is free—and it comes with catered refreshments from Chik-fil-A!

Like the “Pick a Path” career-oriented meeting at UCF last year and the content-oriented “Mining for Knowledge” meeting the year before, the February 13 meeting is in a progression format. Three rotations of six topics hosted at color-coded venues give attendees the opportunity to explore the upcoming Summit and take a look at career options within technical communication.

Please click here to RSVP.

We offer more articles about this landmark event in this edition of MtM; just look for the FTC/STC banner as shown above!

Also in this edition:

  • A word from our President, whom one might say is over the moon about the recent rocket launch!
  • A word from our Secretary, with a recap of our blockbuster MadCap Flare presentation from January!
  • A word from our Treasurer, with a public service announcement about the great opportunity for student volunteerism at the Summit!

Read on!

Nick Ducharme
Editor, Memo To Members
newsletter@stc-orlando.org

 

The President’s Corner

Alex Garcia

Alex Garcia

By: Alex Garcia
President
(Orlando Central) Florida Chapter, STC

president@stc-orlando.org

Article written 6 February 2018

 

 

 

“There’s a starman waiting in the sky
He’d like to come and meet us
But he thinks he’d blow our minds
There’s a starman waiting in the sky
He’s told us not to blow it
Cause he knows it’s all worthwhile”

Starman” by David Bowie

 

Dear members and friends, you’ll have to indulge my geekiness this month in President’s Corner. Today, my husband and I ventured out to Titusville, FL to witness the test launch of a new super-rocket: the SpaceX Falcon Heavy. This spacecraft, a three stage rocket with three boosters, had as much thrust as the Saturn V rocket that took us to the moon in the 1970s. Meaning, it was the largest rocket launched in my lifetime. As a degreed rocket scientist, this launch was monumental for me.

The payload? A 2008 candy apple red Tesla Roadster convertible, because WHY NOT? The passenger? A mannequin named Starman. The course? A perpetual, heliocentric, elliptical Hohmann transfer orbit. From our friends at Bill Nye the Science Guy’s The Planetary Society, here is a little more about Starman’s projected trajectory:

A Hohmann transfer orbit can take a spacecraft from Earth to Mars. The orbit is an elliptical one, where the periapsis (nearest point) is at Earth’s distance from the Sun and the apoapsis (farthest point) is at Mars’ distance from the Sun. The transfer orbit has to be timed so that when the spacecraft departs Earth, it will arrive at its orbit apoapsis when Mars is at the same position in its orbit. Earth and Mars align properly for a Hohmann transfer once every 26 months.

 

The Hohmann Transfer Orbit. SpaceX Launched its Falcon Heavy,
the world’s most powerful rocket, from historic Launch Pad 39A at Kennedy Space Center on February 6, 2018.

 

We need to understand all of the achievements that took place within the first six hours of today’s mission:

  1. Two previously-flown Falcon 9 first-stage boosters lifted a center core, and then landed, simultaneously at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.
  2. An unproven two-stage center core carried a fairing and payload to Earth escape velocity. It attempted a water landing, but did not survive.
  3. An unproven fairing third stage deployed a payload, sending it off into the Hohmann Transfer Orbit.
  4. The payload survived the radiation of Earth’s Van Allen belt.

This flight was a proving ground for the technologies that will take humans back to space, past low-Earth orbit. I honestly cannot wait for the achievements to continue.

So, my fellow technical communicators, embrace your geekiness, and embrace the TECHNICAL part of our profession. Become the subject matter experts in whatever you are documenting. If it’s hardware: tear it apart and rebuild it. If it’s software: try to break it.

UPDATE 10:00 PM 2/6/18: The rocket’s second stage burned too long, meaning Starman and the Tesla overshot the Hohmann Transfer Orbit. They have entered a heliocentric orbit that will take them past Mars and into the Asteroid Belt. Such is life in orbital dynamics. Elon Musk’s Twitter update read:

Here is Elon Musk’s last picture of Starman before his car’s 24 hour batteries expired. Godspeed, Starman!

 

 

If You Missed the Last Meeting

Crystal Brezina

By: Crystal Brezina
Secretary
Orlando Central Florida Chapter, STC
secretary@stc-orlando.org

On Thursday, January 18, the Orlando Central Florida chapter of STC convened at Riptide Software in Oviedo for their monthly meeting.

Bethany Agaud and Darci Kingry from Fiserv presented the content management platform MadCap Flare, a topic-based technical documentation tool. Bethany and Darci gave an overview describing how MadCap Flare works and how they use the tool at Fiserv for technical communication. Bethany and Darci showed their combined knowledge of MadCap Flare to present MadCap Flare for inexperienced users and to provide tips for improving your Madcap Flare skills. After, Bethany and Darci facilitated a question and answer section to discuss the tool with experienced users.

This Month’s Meeting

Dan Voss

Don’t Miss the February 13 Meeting at UCF!

Annual FTC/STC Meeting Previews STC Summit as Our Young Leaders Take the International Stage

By: Dan Voss
Education Committee Member
Orlando Central Florida Chapter, STC
education@stc-orlando.org

The traditional multi-hued balloons will flutter above the six progression tables (a.k.a., venues) as the annual Future Technical Communicators (FTC)/STC meeting comes to UCF from 6:30 to 8:55 p.m. on Tuesday, February 13, in the Student Union, Room 316A. The program is titled Reach the Summit: at the Conference and in Your Career.

The twin focus of the February 13 meeting is on the upcoming 65th annual STC technical communication conference coming to Orlando May 20–23 (hereinafter referred to as Summit 2018) and on the diverse career paths available within the technical communication field.

Offering a wealth of knowledge conveyed in an informative and festive package, this event is a “don’t miss”—not only for UCF students, but also for professionals in the Orlando Central Florida (OCF) Chapter. Admission is free. And it comes with catered refreshments from Chik-fil-A!

Like the career-oriented Pick a Path meeting at UCF last year and the content-oriented Mining for Knowledge meeting the year before, the February 13 meeting is in a progression format. Three rotations of six topics hosted at color-coded venues give attendees the opportunity to explore the upcoming Summit 2018 and take a look at career options within technical communication.

Here’s What’s in Store for February 13

The matrix of progression rotations and venue topics for the February 13 meeting also serves as the program for the event.

The program features OCF Chapter member Dawn Claessen (Blue Venue) previewing her Summit 2018 presentation as well as taking a look at STC’s Special Interest Groups (SIGs), veteran conference speakers W.C. Wiese (Green Venue) and Dan Voss (Red Venue) with distillations of recent presentations that include a wealth of career tips, early-career professionals Bethany Aguad and Nick Ducharme (Gold Venue) with pointers on how to “jump-start” your career, and OCF Immediate Past President Debra Johnson (Burgundy Venue) with practical tips for attending the Summit and valuable advice for students on networking with professionals—at the Summit, within STC, and in the workplace.

That accounts for five of the six venues.

At the 6th table, the “Royal” Purple Venue, four of the OCF Chapter’s young Rising Stars—President Alex Garcia, Secretary Crystal Brezina, Treasurer Bethany Aguad, and Communications Manager/Newsletter Editor Nick Ducharme—preview the two presentations they are making at the Summit. Both presentations support the Summit theme: Communicating the Future.

Their first, scheduled for Leadership Day on Sunday, May 20, is titled “Forging the Future: Tips and Tools for (Re)Building Your STC Community.”

Their second—an Education Session slated 3:45–4:45 on Monday—is titled “Fueling Your Future: STC Experience Builds Professional Leadership Skills.” It shows how taking advantage of leadership opportunities as young professionals within an STC community translates directly into growth to assume leadership positions on the job.

Rising Stars in the International Spotlight

The selection process for Summit presentations is extremely competitive. For four early-career professionals to be presenting not once, but twice, at the international conference may well be unprecedented in the history of the Society.

If you want to see why, drop by the Purple Venue to see our Rising Stars in action.

In essence, as a “smorgasbord” of tasty tech comm topics, the February 13 event at UCF is a “mini-conference.” At the annual STC Summit, attendees derive maximum benefit from the experience by studying the conference program in advance and identifying which sessions are of greatest interest to them.

Similarly, attendees on February 13 can target any three of the six topics in the program matrix they feel to be most beneficial for them, both in planning to attend Summit 2018 and—in the case of student members—charting their course within our profession.

The last time the STC international conference came to town was back in Y2K, when it was jointly hosted by the Orlando and Suncoast chapters. The OCF Chapter, which recently merged with the Suncoast Chapter to form the nucleus of an evolving statewide STC community, is serving as STC’s host chapter for Summit 2018 at the Hyatt Regency on International Drive.

The twin sponsors of the February 13 event, the OCF Chapter and the Future Technical Communicators (FTC) organization at UCF, are also working together as Florida hosts for Summit 2018.

 

An Amazing Opportunity for Students

Student STC members from UCF join an 18-student volunteer corps that provides administrative support at the conference in return for free registration—a $200 value. In addition to gaining a wealth of technical knowledge from leaders in the technical communication field, the  volunteers also have an exceptional opportunity to network with professional practitioners from all over the world.

Normally, attending the international STC conference as a student would cost several times the $200 student registration fee when you add the cost of travel, lodging, and incidentals. The last time UCF students had this opportunity was in 2000. It will likely be a long time before the international conference comes to Orlando again, if ever.

In addition to providing student volunteers from UCF, as the Summit 2018 host chapter, OCF is staffing a table in the registration area. Debra Johnson is serving on the Society’s 65th Anniversary Committee. FTC members and published STC authors within the chapter are writing a sterling series of articles in STC’s monthly Intercom magazine, offering Summit attendees suggestions about things to do besides the “main event” while they are visiting Central Florida.

Jack’s Coming Back!

OCF is well represented on the Summit 2018 program. In addition to Dawn Claessen and our Rising Stars team mentioned above, we’ll be represented by marquee Summit speaker and author Jack Molisani, an OCF member from Jacksonville, who is making two conference presentations here in May. Jack is an exceptionally dynamic speaker who presented career-oriented tips from his 2014 and 2015 STC international conference presentations at Orlando Chapter meetings in August 2014 and August 2015—Washlines XIX and Washlines XX, respectively. These were the last two editions of a 20-year series of festive panel- and progression-style August meetings at which chapter members shared information gathered from the previous spring’s international STC conference.

The 2016 “Pick a Path” and 2017 “Mining for Knowledge” FTC/STC chapter meetings at UCF picked up on the colorful Washlines tradition, balloons and all—and the February 13 meeting “Reach the Summit” carries it on.

The OCF chapter is pleased to announce that Jack will be back in Orlando before his Summit 2018 appearance in May. He’ll be presenting at our chapter employment meeting on March 22. That’s another “don’t miss.”

All in all, the February 13 meeting, the March 22 meeting, and Summit 2018 on May 20–23 are exceptional opportunities for professional growth, networking, and plain old fun.

Don’t miss out! Mark your calendars for all three!

 

Preparing for Their Debut on the International Stage. OCF Rising Stars (Bethany Aguad, Alex Garcia, Crystal Brezina, and Nick Ducharme) and their Session Coaches (STC Fellows W.C. Wiese, Karen Lane, Mike Murray, and Dan Voss) consumed nearly two dozen donuts—22 to be exact—in a marathon session at the Orlando Public Library on Super Bowl Eve, storyboarding their two presentations for the STC Summit 2018, coming to Orlando in May. For a preview of their outstanding presentations, be sure to catch the Purple Venue at the February 13 FTC/STC meeting at UCF!