From the Editor’s Desk

Emily Wells

Technical Communicators of Florida and Beyond,

As we move further into Fall, we also move further into our chapter year. We’re planning some big events coming up, including engaging meetings with talented presenters and the kick-off of the 2018-19 student mentoring program. To learn more about the start of these events, continue on.

This month, Vice President Nick Ducharme introduces our second meeting of the year, a virtual presentation on how to work with remote teams. For more information and to RSVP, read Nick’s article or visit our Meetup page.

Finally, Andy Romero presents part 4 of our 4-part series reflecting on our chapter’s student mentoring program and where we go from here.

Well, that’s all from me for now. I hope to see you at the meeting!

Catch you on the flip side,

Emily Wells
Communications Chair
Editor, Memo To Members
newsletter@stc-orlando.org

Get Hyped for this Month’s Meeting!

Collaborating on Virtual Teams

Nick Ducharme

By: Nick Ducharme
Vice President
Florida Chapter, STC

Friends,

Before we get hyped for this month’s meeting, I would like to thank you all for the record-breaking online turnout for last month’s topic, Cognition, Design, and Usability: Understanding the Minds of Users. Your overwhelming engagement signals that we are fulfilling our mission of providing meetings that are both engaging and accessible. Nothing else could bring me greater joy as your Vice President. Thank you so much!

That said, this month should hopefully inspire similar virtual engagement, considering that virtual is what it’s all about! This month, please click here and RSVP to join us for Collaborating on Remote Teams, presented by Todd DeLuca. You can either join us virtually or in person.

I had the privilege of meeting Mr. DeLuca at the STC Summit in Orlando this year. There were so many interesting and fantastic professionals who made a showing that one would be hard-pressed to commit them all to memory. But Todd made such an impression that I couldn’t help but remember him. I believe you will feel the same after you experience this presentation. The official presentation description is below. Enjoy, and I hope you can join us!

Presenter Todd Deluca

 

Presentation Overview:

The definition and the makeup of workplace teams have changed significantly due to technology and the ubiquity of the internet. In fact, odds are good that you are part of a group or team with members that are not physically located in a local office. There may even be people you work with that you’ve never seen or met in person. Basically, if you use email, IM, online meetings, or discussion boards, you’re part of a virtual team.

How would you rate your virtual team experience? The dynamics of being part of a team in this new landscape are different and most organizations don’t manage or support virtual teams as effectively as they could. Often the tried-and-true methodologies from the past don’t meet the needs of a more distributed, diverse, and international workforce. There’s a lot of room for improvement. Don’t worry, that’s why we’re here and joining together virtually to share suggestions on making virtual teams work better.

Our speaker, Todd DeLuca (aka ‘TechCommTodd’) has been a virtual worker and manager for the past 8 years and understands both the issues and opportunities that virtual teams present. The rules of the road are different when you’re part of a virtual group or organization, which Todd will outline and discuss. He will also present virtual team challenges and offer ways to address them in order to change the experience from sometimes frustrating to mostly positive. Spoiler: You still have to work with people and have meetings (at least occasionally).

Join us for an honest look at virtual teams and come away with helpful ideas and useful suggestions on how to be a star member of your own virtual group. And don’t be surprised if some of the solutions center around communication.

The View From Campus

Part 4 of a 4-Part Series

FTC/STC Student Mentoring Program Kicks Off an Exciting Year and Lays Plans for Expanded Virtual Connectivity

Andy Romero

By: Andy Romero
FTC President and STC Student Member

Welcome back FTC students and members of STC. I am eager to shine some light on recent events that have taken place at the University of Central Florida. On Thursday, September 13, 2018, FTC held its first General Body meeting for the 2018 Fall semester. In attendance were various old and new faces that have joined the club and are excited to begin their involvement in the STC and FTC community. We were also accompanied by technical communication professor and FTC club sponsor Dr. J.D. Applen and Professor Carolyn Glasshoff.

Most importantly, elections were held in the General Body meeting, bringing in three new students as FTC officers for the Fall semester of 2018. Andy Romero was elected for her third term as president for the Fall semester. Joshua-Caleb (JC) Barton was elected as Vice President, and will later take on the role of president in the Spring semester of 2019. Amy Truong was elected as the new secretary and Alix Celeste will be serving as the FTC Treasurer. The new FTC officers have already begun brainstorming ways on how to enhance our online presence and expand further on student involvement within the community. Beginning this semester, we have already created new social media pages so students and members of STC can stay updated on our most recent events and news. Some of these social media pages include LinkedIn, Facebook, and KnightConnect.

As we begin the new year, we are enthusiastic to bring in a new group of students to join the STC-FTC student mentorship program and demonstrate the importance of learning outside of the classroom. We hope to see just as many students have a successful mentorship experience as last year and achieve our goal to “bridge the gap between industry and academia”. If you happen to be interested in becoming a future mentor or mentee of the FTC-STC mentoring program, please visit the STC chapter website for further information and application forms. Stand by for more details as we invite our program members to the mentoring kickoff via email. This brings us to an end of our four series newsletter column and a fresh start to a great new year with the FTC and STC community.

From the Editor’s Desk

Emily Wells

Technical Communicators of Florida and Beyond,

This is it…the beginning of the 2018-2019 STC Florida year! After a successful July Leadership Retreat, where your officers and Administrative Council came up with new ways to help you, our members, get the most out of STC and our chapter. We have some exciting plans in store, which two of our articles delve into this month. So without further ado…

This month’s President’s Corner introduces our new chapter president, Bethany Aguad, who provides a first glimpse at the exciting plans in place for the coming year.

Next, Vice President Nick Ducharme gets us hyped up for our first meeting of the year, a virtual presentation straight from this year’s STC Summit. For more information and to RSVP, read Nick’s article or visit our Meetup page.

Last but not least, Misty Arner presents part 3 of her 4-part series reflecting on another ground-breaking year for our chapter’s student mentoring program.

Well, that’s all from me for now. I hope to see you at the meeting!

Catch you on the flip side,

Emily Wells
Editor, Memo To Members
newsletter@stc-orlando.org

President’s Corner

Bethany Aguad

By: Bethany Aguad
President
Florida Chapter, STC

president@stc-orlando.org

Members and Friends of the STC Florida Chapter,

This is my first year as President of the Florida Chapter, and I am thrilled to step up to carry on the amazing accomplishments of Alex Garcia in his time serving you all. I am confident that with Alex’s continued support as immediate past president and our entire Administrative Council, we will deliver on the commitments we have made to our members.

 

I have worked closely with our chapter Vice President, Nick Ducharme, to focus our plans for the year on delivering value to our members as your Florida chapter. We used two questions to guide our brainstorming:

  • Does this benefit our members?
  • Is this worth doing?

We based all of our efforts on activities that let us answer those questions with a resounding, “Yes!” Based on that, we have made a commitment to deliver a robust, connected virtual experience for members across the state of Florida and educational chapter meetings that drive professional growth. I want to thank you all for providing responses to our STC Florida survey, which we used to drive our annual planning at the STC Florida Leadership Retreat in July. I will have a full walk through of those responses in my next President’s Corner.

For the 2018 chapter year, the Florida Chapter will provide an outlet for networking, fellowship, and sharing of information among passionate technical communicators throughout the state of Florida. Nick Ducharme has worked to put together a list of programs for the year to:

  • Provide educational resources
  • Promote best practices
  • Facilitate networking

We also want to focus on supporting our volunteers this year, especially following the Summit. I know many of you dedicated significant time and energy to making Summit attendees feel welcome in our state, and I am grateful for your efforts. This year, we want to encourage volunteers at all responsibility levels from directors, to committee chairs, to smaller tasks. We are all in this together, and through supporting each other, we will make 2018 a great year for STC Florida!  

Get Hyped for This Month’s Meeting!

Cognition, Design, and Usability: Understanding the Minds of Users

Nick Ducharme

By: Nick Ducharme
Vice President
Florida Chapter, STC

I’ve returned, dear friends! Even though my days as editor are now over, it’s my honor to reignite a Vice-Presidential column in Memo to Members. The mission is simple: to share my excitement about each month’s upcoming chapter meeting.

Last chapter year, the monumental STC Summit in Orlando was at the center of our efforts. Now, we’ve shifted our focus to the chapter year ahead. Now, we’re getting back to basics and revisiting our prime directive, which is to provide value to you!

Our new chapter calendar is at the heart of this goal, and we’ve populated it through June 2019 thanks to your help. (Our plans through this December are available for viewing right now.) The overwhelming response to this summer’s chapter survey was beyond even our most optimistic expectations. We are planning our chapter year around the highest-ranked topic categories from the survey, and are also doubling down on making our meetings virtual-friendly. We pledge to deliver relevant meeting topics that not only entertain tech comm practitioners across Florida (and beyond), but also enrich their skillsets and careers. There may even be some tool-centric workshops later this year; stay tuned.

For now, though, let’s focus on August. The people have spoken. Instead of a Washlines-style progression like originally intended, this Thursday’s meeting is taking two categories that received a lot of votes in the survey: UI/UX Design and Document Design. Kirk St.Amant is bringing us a live webinar called Cognition, Design, and Usability: Understanding the Minds of Users. (Click here to RSVP!)

Presenter Kirk St.Amant

Kirk St.Amant was a presenter at the Summit, and our chapter President Bethany Aguad was an attendee at his learning session. She found it quite enthralling. After reading the presentation’s synopsis, I can see why; Kirk entertains through a psychological lens (a personal favorite of mine) and enriches by providing a concrete methodology that attendees can immediately begin applying to their own designs. The official presentation description is below. Enjoy, and I hope you can join us!

Presentation Title:
Cognition, Design, and Usability: Understanding the Minds of Users

Presenter Overview:
Kirk St.Amant
Louisiana Tech University and University of Limerick
Email: kirk.stamant@gmail.com

Presentation Overview:
Why are some items easier to use than others?  Why can we use certain technologies reflexively, but stumble with others?  And how can we look at a new product and inherently seem to know how it works?  These situations are all a matter of cognition – how the brain identifies, processes, and responds to information.  By understanding certain cognitive workings, technical communicators can create materials to meet an audience’s expectations of usable designs.

In this session, Kirk explains key cognitive factors affecting usability and usable design.  In examining these ideas, Kirk will discuss how technical communicators can use such cognitive factors to guide product design and development practices.  Kirk will also provide strategies for applying these cognitive factors to create more usable materials for different audiences.  The objective is to provide attendees with a cognitive-based method they can use when researching audience expectations to design usable products.

Presenter Bio:
Kirk St.Amant is a Professor and the Eunice C. Williamson Endowed Chair in Technical Communication at Louisiana Tech University (USA) and an Adjunct Professor of International Health and Medical Communication with the University of Limerick (Ireland).  Kirk is also the Director of the Health and Medical Communication Center and the Director of the Usability Research Center at Louisiana Tech University and is on the steering committee for Louisiana Tech’s Visual Integration of Science Through Art (VISTA) program.  His main research interests are in international communication with a focus on globalization and the design of online education and on designing health and medical communication for international audiences.

The View From Campus

Part 3 of a 4-Part Series

FTC/STC Student Mentoring Program Wraps Up Exciting Year
And Lays Plans for Expanded Virtual Connectivity Next Year

Misty Arner

By: Misty Arner
Co-Manager, STC-FTC Student Mentoring Program
Student Member, STC Florida Chapter

Introduction

We are getting closer to a start of another exciting year! This article presents another success story from our STC-FTC student mentorship program. As we wrap up the STC 2017-2018 chapter year, STC Fellow and returning Chapter Treasurer W.C. Wiese and FTC Treasurer Nick Mina tell their insightful success story of the program in an interview for this edition of MtM.

Research has demonstrated that engaging yourself in activities outside of work and the classroom allows you to learn more about yourself and your goals in life. Nick’s and W.C.’s story shows that volunteering your time increases your self-esteem, self-discipline, and ensures a healthy balance between study, work, and social life. Nick was introduced to like-minded people who helped him find the confidence he needed to succeed in landing a job in the technical communication field. W.C., recently retired from a 40+ year career with Lockheed Martin, was able to stay in touch with communicators and share his experience and passion for the field with future communicators like Nick.

I hope this article encourages both tech comm students and professional technical communicators to become active members in the Florida Chapter of the Society for Technical Communication (STC) as well as encourage UCF tech comm students (both undergraduate and graduate) to join Future Technical Communicators (FTC) and to participate as mentees in the STC-FTC student mentorship program.


Part 3: Chat with Mentor W.C Wiese and Mentee Nick Mina

Monthly meetings near UCF were the key to the highly successful mentoring relationship between FTC Treasurer Nick Mina and veteran aerospace technical communicator and STC Fellow W.C., Wiese.

What do you believe was the single most beneficial aspect of your mentoring partnership?

Nick:  I’ve felt highly motivated throughout the partnership, because I knew that I was being held accountable for the goals I was setting. Having someone ask me about my progress each month made sure that I followed through on certain goals.

W.C:  Since retiring, I’m coping with not being in daily contact with the work I’ve done for over 40 years. It’s not that I’m dealing with withdrawal or want to return to work, but working with Nick reminds me of the opportunities I was given because he approaches his future career with such energy and enthusiasm.

Sharing these experiences helps me stay in touch with the value we bring to our employers as technical communicators.

Does any particular activity or project in your mentoring partnership stand out as the most successful? Explain.

Nick:  I’ve met with my mentor once a month since the partnership began, and these meetings have certainly been the most helpful aspect for me. Not only am I able to ask questions, but I’m also given personalized advice about my future and career goals.

W.C.:  Nick’s in an especially good position, since he’s a junior. Many of the mentees I’ve worked with in past years have been graduating seniors who I was surprised to learn had not thought very much about getting a job. Forgive me for simplifying it, but wasn’t that why they were going to college? Several kicked the can down the road by becoming graduate students, which I don’t find beneficial in a field as applied as ours.

So, the difference in working with Nick is delightful. Instead of trying to identify employment strengths from the random projects and scraps of past experience, Nick can focus on gathering employment discriminators and conscientiously construct his resume and portfolio for another year. We are concentrating on how to beat the usual requirement for 5 years of experience by generating applicable experience while he’s still a student at UCF. His selection for college work experience at Lockheed Martin is a real plus in this area.

What is the most important thing you believe a mentee/mentor can do to derive maximum benefit from a mentoring partnership?

Nick:  I think it’s important to just be honest with your mentor about your goals from the get go. There are so many paths you can take in this field, so make sure that your mentor knows which one you want to take so that he or she can give you appropriate advice.

W.C.:  Obviously, the mentee must want the collaboration. For my part, I want to reward Nick’s commitment by making it as convenient as possible to meet. We get together near UCF between classes one Thursday a month.

I’m not big on adding project assignments, since he has professors who already do that. Instead, I want to convey the things I wish I’d known earlier in my career that proved most helpful. The head start stuff…

Did you face any particular challenges in ensuring a successful mentoring partnership? If so, what were they, and how did you overcome them?

Nick:  Balancing a job and school can get a little overwhelming, so sometimes I wouldn’t have time to respond to an email for a few days, but my mentor was very flexible and trusted that I would get back to him. We’ve met every month since the partnership began, which has helped us stay on the same page throughout the entire process.

W.C.:  Sometimes a mentee isn’t as interested in a communication career as his peers are. This shows up in an unwillingness to repair flaws in a resume, a lack of enthusiasm for interviewing, and little response to job preparation suggestions.

A mentor can only do so much. I can’t say I have a method to overcome these problems. At that point, you hope for the best. A patient recruiter maybe…

Do you have any suggestions on how the mentoring program might be improved?

Nick:  I’ve had such a positive experience with my mentor, so I wouldn’t recommend any changes on my behalf. For partnerships that haven’t been as successful, I would recommend communication, whether it’s over the phone or in person, frequently throughout the entire process.

W.C.:  I’m very proud that the program Dan Voss and Bonnie Spivey started 15 years ago has proved so durable and provided so many benefits to our chapter. It is a credit to the STC Florida Chapter that so many professionals in a volunteer organization have wanted to spend the time to ensure future communicators are ready for outstanding careers and become the best professional representatives they can be.

I have the sense that the mentorships we offer have been more of a push from us in STC and lack pull with endorsement from the English Department at UCF. We’re limited by the amount of volunteer energy we can provide, but it would be good (and motivating) to know how much of a difference we make—do our mentees have a higher rate of employment than those who graduate and aren’t in the mentorship program? Do graduate communicators acclimate more easily and advance more rapidly? We have some sense of this from the former students that have become standout members of the chapter, but wouldn’t it be great for UCF to track alumni results?

Access to our employment manager is a benefit associated with the mentorship program although, again, this is a volunteer service we provide. Our efforts to gain employment for UCF students could be strengthened if UCF’s placement service worked with the Florida STC Chapter to coordinate interview preparation and job openings.

I understand that Nick interviewed for and received a student intern position at Lockheed Martin’s RMS operation on Lake Underhill Road.  Did W.C.’s long career at Lockheed Martin play a role in preparing for that interview? If so, how?

Nick:  When I found out that I’d be interviewing at Lockheed Martin, I emailed W.C. to tell him the exciting news and to ask him for some advice. He told me to capitalize on my passion for writing and my involvement in technical communication groups like FTC and STC. Having someone who knows the company so well was vital in preparing for the interview.

What type of media work has Nick done in support of his brother-in-law’s business? And what business is that? What was W.C.’s role in that effort?

Nick:  In our first meeting, W.C. urged me to volunteer my skills for my brother’s deck and dock company. I made business cards and other documents, and since then, I’ve even done work for a friend’s bakery. Because W.C. was there to hold me accountable, I felt motivated to get these projects done so that they could be put into my portfolio.


That concludes our 2017-2018 end-of-the-year interviews demonstrating our success with the STC/FTC student mentoring program.

Most of college learning happens outside the classroom. We hope to see students at our September FTC kick-off meeting. We also encourage students to join FTC, become a student member of the Florida STC Chapter, and consider applying for the outstanding STC/FTC student mentoring program.

Stand by for next month’s newsletter for details about becoming part of our mentorship program.

Watch for Part 4 of this series in the September edition of Memo to Members!

From the Editor’s Desk

Emily Wells

Technical Communicators of Florida and Beyond,

This is it…my first solo editor effort! I’ve been looking forward to my time as editor and communications chair, though not without some trepidation. After all, with great power…

You see, my stepping into the editor’s chair is only the beginning. Your incoming officers and I are thinking of new ways to help you, our members, get the most out of STC and our chapter. And let me just say, we’ve got some awesome ideas that we’ll discuss at our leadership retreat in July (so keep an eye out for the August Memo to Members for more details).

But before we start planning ahead and gearing up for our July leadership retreat, let’s take a minute to step back and celebrate all that we have accomplished this past year. First, after months of preparations, the Summit has come and past. As a chief planner of two Summit events (Pub Crawl and Diner Meetup), I’m ecstatic at the huge success.

For more on the Summit, see this month’s President’s Corner, where Alex Garcia reflects not only on this success but also his time as President.

Florida Chapter members sending their greetings from the Summit.

Dan Voss also reflects on the Summit by sharing about a Florida Chapter tradition, “Washlines,” providing a how-to guide for others as well as some exciting news about coming attractions. More on this in the article below.

Last but not least, Misty Arner presents part 2 of a 4-part series reflecting on another ground-breaking year for our chapter’s student mentoring program.

With these and all our other accomplishments, our chapter has a lot to celebrate. Which brings me to our annual end of the year celebration and awards ceremony this Thursday, June 14. This event is a fun get-together that allows us to reflect and celebrate as a chapter (not to mention one of the best networking opportunities all year). For more information and to RSVP, visit our Meetup page.

I hope to see you at the celebration!

Catch you on the flip side,

Emily Wells
Editor, Memo To Members
newsletter@stc-orlando.org

President’s Corner

Alex Garcia

By: Alex Garcia
President
Florida Chapter, STC

president@stc-orlando.org

Members and Friends of the Florida Chapter STC,

Writer’s note: I write this column on a plane at the tail end of a very long, but very satisfying three weeks: The 2018 STC Summit, a customer meeting in Washington DC, and a very special invitation to the Lockheed Martin Headquarters Conference Center in Bethesda, MD for the Lockheed Martin Pride LGBT Professional Network leadership forum to interface with corporate level Vice Presidents and managers from around the company. Needless to say, I think I am all extroverted out. But, I will look back on these three weeks with fondness. I’ve met some wonderful people, whose contacts are sure to help my career at STC, at Lockheed Martin, and beyond. 

It’s been two years since I took office as President of your Central Florida Chapter STC. The Chapter has seen great change during this time. Most importantly: we are now the Florida Chapter STC. When I took office, we had just started merging with the Suncoast Chapter STC. That July, I walked into the annual leadership retreat with the idea for a statewide chapter model where we maintain the centralized administrative council in Orlando and broadcast our meetings statewide. I envisioned geographically-based local interest groups (LIGs). So far, the Suncoast LIG has started gaining steam. While we have struggled with our virtual meeting technology, it is something that my successor, Bethany Aguad, has pledged to perfect.

Another one of my pressing visions when I took office was the 2018 STC Summit. As host chapter, we would need to show our visitors a warm welcome by setting up at least one evening event and staging a hospitality table. Well, I can honestly say that the Summit was a HUGE success! We hosted TWO evening events (a Pub Crawl on Monday evening and a Diner Crawl on Tuesday evening). Let me tell you about the impressive logistical exercise the Diner Crawl was. 11 restaurants with between 10 and 15 people at each restaurant! Special shout out to Emily Wells, Debra Johnson, and last-minute concierge Tisa Newcombe for a very successful diner crawl.

President Alex Garcia, Vice President Elect Nick Ducharme, STC Immediate Past President Alyssa Fox, and former chapter Vice President Sarah Baca enjoy dinner with Summit attendees at Tapa Toro.

The Summit itself was a humbling experience. Your Florida Chapter STC’s Summit committee received so many words of gratitude for the way we hosted the event. STC Meeting Coordinator Elaine Gilliam even jokingly invited your Chapter to host next year’s Summit in Denver, CO. And I was identified as a rising leader in the Society when I was invited to join the 2018-2019 Community Affairs Committee (CAC) by STC Director Jessie Mallory. I have no doubt that running your Florida Chapter for the past two years has prepared me to help other Chapters and SIGs achieve the same level of excellence. But don’t worry, I am still going to serve on your Chapter’s AdCo as Immediate Past President. I will be here for whatever Bethany and Nick need as we realize your Chapter’s full potential.

YOUR CHAPTER IS IN GOOD HANDS!

I close this, my last column, with my favorite quote from the dearly-departed Anthony Bourdain, who I always called my spirit animal. It is actually the last quote from the last episode of his Travel Channel series No Reservations:

“If I’m an advocate for anything, it’s to move. As far as you can, as much as you can. Across the ocean, or simply across the river. The extent to which you can walk in someone else’s shoes or at least eat their food, it’s a plus for everybody. Open your mind, get up off the couch, move.” Anthony Bourdain