If You Missed the Last Meeting

Crystal Brezina

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

On Thursday, October 19th, the Orlando Central Florida chapter of STC convened at IHOP on University Boulevard for their monthly meeting.

Debra Johnson presented the technology media platform BrightTALK, a free site that provides educational videos on webinars for business professionals. Debra described how BrightTALK works and how it can work for technical communicators, from subscribing to speakers who present on a specific field, to allowing users to ask questions that the speaker is able to see and answer live. Debra introduced BrightTALK to the chapter with The Content Wrangler Presents: Using Text, Images & Video in Technical Communication. It was a presentation in which Ferry Vermeulen, managing director of Instrktiv, led the audience through the appropriate times to use text, images, and video in technical documentation.

This webinar is available for anyone and can be accessed on BrightTALK at the link below:
https://www.brighttalk.com/webcast/9273/268667

Immediate Past President Debra Johnson is shown here presenting to the chapter about BrightTALK.

The View from Campus

FTC Lays Plans for an Exciting Year of Expanded Educational Opportunities

Andy Romero

By: Andy Romero
FTC President

Greetings Technical Communicators:

My name is Andy Romero, and I am the new president of the Future Technical Communicators (FTC) club at the University of Central Florida. I am a junior majoring in English and specializing in Technical Communication. In addition, I am a College Work Experience Program (CWEP) student employed part-time at Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control as a technical writer.

The other FTC officers this year are Nicole Garcia, vice president; Nicholas Mina, treasurer; Carolynn Torres, secretary; and Emily Wells, student co-manager of the FTC and STC student mentoring program. (For details on this highly successful 15-year program, see Emily’s article in this edition of MtM.)

The FTC leadership team’s focus this year is to provide technical communication students with opportunities to polish their skills and to increase their career opportunities within the profession. The student mentoring program and the traditional FTC/STC meeting at UCF in January remain key elements in this initiative, but the leadership team has added a third element this year—a new educational program to be implemented at regular FTC meetings.

The new educational program introduces students to modern technical communication technologies, strategies, experiences, and career opportunities within the field. We kicked off this initiative on October 20 by bringing in two professional technical writers from Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control, Steffi Leung and Nick Ducharme, who graciously volunteered to talk to information technology and technical communication students about their day-to-day activities as technical writers and to let them know what to expect when working for a major company within the defense industry.

The information and tips Steffi and Nick provided ranged from how to land your first interview to software applications that can help you get ahead of the game as a technical communicator. The IT students and FTC members gained insight into professional career development. They plied the presenters with questions ranging from recommendations on style sheets to various types of technical communication positions. The students also shared their personal working experiences and how they learned to become better technical communicators. We thank Steffi and

Nick again for being our special guests and taking part in this insightful meet-up.

Throughout the 2017-2018 academic year, we plan to continue to host professional technical communicators ranging from programmers to document designers, to discuss career opportunities and provide insight into the various spheres of technical communication.

Also on our agenda this year is to offer FTC members (including student mentees) the opportunity to publish unique and informative pieces on designated technical communication topics in Memo to Members, as well as to become more involved in the Orlando Central Florida STC community. Furthermore, we plan to offer workshops to show students how to create a LinkedIn account and develop an online portfolio that showcases their skills, academic credentials, co-curricular activities, and leadership experience to potential employers.

On the recreational side, we are laying plans for a bowling night and other social activities outside the university. Our goal this year is to concentrate on increasing professional career exposure, establishing connections, and, of course, having fun in the process.

This year, members of FTC are reaching out to each other and creating new friendships. The purpose of our new initiatives is not only to help students become more knowledgeable about—and better prepared for—the diverse career opportunities within technical communication, but also to make connections within the UCF Technical Communication community, within FTC, and within STC.

I am eager to continue as president of FTC. Our leadership team has great expectations for the future growth of our organization, and we are committed to make our vision a reality.

2017-2018 Mentoring Program off to a Rousing Start: Year 15 of an STC Benchmark Program

By: Emily Wells
Staff Writer,
Memo to Members
Co-Manager, Student Mentoring Program

It’s that time of the year again. The weather’s getting cooler, decorations are going up, and the student mentoring program between the Orlando Central Florida (OCF) Chapter of STC  and the Future Technical Communicators (FTC) organization at the University of Central Florida has kicked off for the 15th year in a row!

 

During the 2017-2018 academic year, 12 UCF students will benefit from the experience and coaching of 10 professionals from the OCF Chapter (see box).

Achieving this major milestone and 15 years of success would not have been possible without the support of FTC faculty advisor Dr. J.D. Applen, a legacy of outstanding FTC presidents, an experienced cadre of OCF Chapter members who have volunteered as mentors year after year, and new mentors who have joined the program over the past 3 years.

Last year alone we had a record-breaking 16 pairings, which led to a number of achievements, including numerous articles for MtM and Intercom, engaging portfolios pieces, and jobs for two of our mentees. This just goes to show how true “FTC and STC – Better Together” is. This slogan perfectly describes the mentoring program, since when we work together, we achieve so much. For more on the history of the mentoring program, see this article written by Terra Jarvis for the December 2013 edition of Memo to Members.

On top of the achievements of 137 mentor/mentee pairs over its 15-year history, the mentoring program has been a model for other STC communities internationally. Former mentee Bethany Aguad and her mentor Dan Voss conducted workshops on student mentoring programs at Leadership Day at the 59th and 60th STC International Summit conferences in 2012 and 2013 and at the 40th annual conference of the Council for Programs in Technical and Scientific Communication in 2012. In 2013, they submitted a paper, “STC Student Mentoring Programs: Invest in the Future,” for the 15th India STC Conference that was published in Indus, the India Chapter newsletter.

In addition, Bethany and Rachel Houghton of the Willamette Valley STC Chapter co-presented on student mentoring at the International Conference of Sigma Tau Delta in 2013.

Although the mentoring program was unable to start on time this year due to a certain “Irma-geddon,” the program co-managers Dan Voss and myself were undaunted. We worked long hours to schedule an FTC interest meeting, to line up mentors and mentees, and to analyze their applications to ensure optimum pairings of mentors and mentees based on multiple criteria. Our foremost priority was to match mentors’ areas of expertise with mentees’ areas of interest.

All of the hard work paid off, as we had 12 pairings this year, including 2 repeat pairings from last year. We also had two successful group kickoff meetings, along with two 1-on-1 “mini-kickoffs” between mentors and mentees who could not both make either one of the kickoff meetings. And for a third consecutive year, all mentors and mentees made the meetings.

Now that the pairings have met and started planning, we look forward to another successful year in the mentoring program. In fact, here are some of the activities being planned already. The photos were taken at the two kick-off meetings at the IHOP on University Boulevard.

OCF Immediate Past President Debra Johnson (left) plans to give her mentee Carolynn Torres some hands-on experience to prepare her for the business world. Photo by Emily Wells.

Eve Brinson will benefit from mentor David Coe’s coding expertise to write an operator manual in XML per military standards. Photo by W.C. Wiese.

Mentor Rachael Swertfeger (left) plans on helping her mentee Morgan Rickey create a portfolio and write an article for Memo to Members. Photo by W.C. Wiese.

The writer (left) and FTC President Andi Romero discuss job placement with their mentor, Dan Voss. Dan and I will focus on job placement this fall, and Andi and Dan plan to co-author an article for STC’s intercom in the spring. Photo by W.C. Wiese.

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Student Volunteerism: The Future of STC

By:

Bethany Aguad

Professional, Academic SIG Member
Treasurer, STC Orlando Central Florida Chapter
STC Scholarship Committee Member 

& 

Alexandra Engrand

Student, Academic SIG Member
Mentee, STC Orlando Central Florida Chapter

 

Editor’s Note: A special version of this article has also been submitted to the STC international publication, Intercom, for publication!

 

Here in the Orlando Central Florida (OCF) Chapter, we connect with the theme for the 2018 Summit: Communicate the Future. As STC celebrates a glowing 65-year past and takes a peek at the future of the profession, our chapter looks to one of our greatest resources and strengths: student volunteerism. By volunteering for STC, students grow into valuable members of Society. They also make connections, develop key technical communication competencies, and become more employable upon graduation. By engaging these talented students, STC gains future leaders who will ensure the Society innovates, grows, and thrives over the coming years. The award-winning OCF Chapter owes much of its success to a continuous pipeline of young talent from the nearby University of Central Florida (UCF).

UCF has an active English – Technical Communication program. It is through its professors, such as Dr. Applen and Dr. Jones, that students are introduced to internship and job opportunities. It is often that they learn of such opportunities from former students or colleagues, some of whom are active members of the STC, and pass them on to their students. In addition, Dr. Applen, a professor in the Department of English – Technical Communication at UCF, is the faculty advisor for UCF’s Future Technical Communicators (FTC) club. He supervises meetings and helps advertise FTC to his students, many of whom are in technical fields like tech comm and IT.

Because of the partnership between FTC and STC, STC’s number of students present at monthly meetings has increased. At these meetings, students are able to meet and mingle with other professional technical writers and communicators in the Orlando area. This presents future internship and job opportunities, as well as learning experiences. STC’s monthly meetings normally consist of a guest speaker presenting on a topic they are knowledgeable on. For example, a previous presenter spoke about what they learned from Facebook as a business. This presentation covered how to best help clients and determine what they actually need, as well as tips on what to include in resumes.  Another meeting hosted an employment panel where attendees could ask questions about the application, interview, and general hiring process. Students were welcome to attend and were able to gain new insights and knowledge about the world of technical communication through these meetings.

Here in Orlando, we recognize that much of our success is the product of this long partnership between chapter and university through our successful student mentoring program (Figure 1). Every year, the Orlando Central Florida Chapter of STC, in conjunction with UCF, pairs veterans from the front lines of the industry with talented technical communication students. The mentoring program enables skilled mentors to help, support, guide, and give advice and assistance where needed for their mentees. Now in its 15th year, the mentoring program continues to pursue its primary goal: to bridge the gap between industry and academe.

Over the decades, many of our student mentees have gone on to assume leadership positions within the chapter. Several veteran community leaders who have retired or are approaching retirement are in the process of handing the reins of chapter leadership over to the next generation of technical communicators. We believe that these rising stars hold the future of the community—and, on a larger scale, the Society—in their hands.

As we look to the future, what could be more appropriate than to engage with talented young STC leaders who will help forge that future? If you know a talented student, encourage them to attend the 2018 STC summit in Orlando so they can learn and be engaged. If you are a student, this is your chance to meet with experienced professionals in the Society, in addition to other talented students at the premier conference for technical communication education and networking. At the 2018 Summit, the experience and advice from tech comm professionals will synergize with the fresh ideas and enthusiasm of our students to benefit not only STC communities, but also the Society as a whole.

Figure 1: Mentees and mentors meet for the first time at one of our annual program kick-offs.

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From the Editor’s Desk

nick2016

Nick Ducharme

Technical Communicators of Florida and Beyond,

Trick or Treat, you say? This month, we’ve definitely got a treat in store for you.

Ready? Here goes:

Our updated chapter website has officially launched! Check it out at https://stc-orlando.org/ and marvel at the user-friendly, modern aesthetic! We also welcome feedback on the site; please feel free to email feedback to myself or to any/all of the chapter officers that are listed on the home page. Help us to help you, dear readers. 🙂

We also have a two-in-one chapter meeting coming up this Thursday, 10/19, presented by our very own Immediate Past President, Debra Johnson! Please click here to RSVP.

 

Here’s a summary of the event in case you missed our email:

Using BrightTalk to Enhance Your Training

Thursday, October 19, 2017 from 6:30 PM to 8:30 PM

Schedule:
6:30 – 7:00 Networking and Dinner
7:00 – Program

Join us Oct 19, 2017 at 6:30 PM at IHOP as our Immediate Past President, Debra Johnson, walks us through a rich resource she uses to help her Tech Comm team learn new skills: BrightTalk.com and the BrightTalk app.

BrightTALK, a source of learning, is a place where people can hear directly from those who know the subject matter best. BrightTALK is SaaS company that specializes in hosting information via webinars and videos for professionals to share.

Then, as a group, we will sample one of the hundreds of Tech Comm webinars available on BrightTalk.com: The Content Wrangler Presents: Using Text, Images and Video in Technical Communication with Ferry Vermeulen (Managing Director, INSTRKTIV).

The Company you may want to work for is trying to give its audience the best product experience in the world.  As a technical writer, you want to contribute to that effort by creating awesome content for that product.  There are many great tools out there that can help you to achieve this. These tools include text editors, and graphic and video tools. But how do you decide when to use text, images, or video for your product assistance? Join us to hear a one-hour recorded presentation designed to help guide you make the best choices. Presented by Scott Abel, The Content Wrangler, and special guest presenter, Ferry Vermeulen of INSTRKTIV

 

There are also photos from last month’s networking meeting down below. Check ’em out!

All the best,

Nick Ducharme
Manager, Communications Committee
newsletter@stc-orlando.org

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If You Missed September’s Meeting

By: Yours Truly

In my Editor’s Desk article above, I mentioned our updated Website. The updated home page reminds us that we live by three pillars here in STC (Orlando Central) Florida when it comes to our programs:

  • promote best practices
  • facilitate networking
  • provide educational resources, both within our group and in the wider worlds of business and education

Most of our meetings, from my experience, center around the first and third bullets by placing the focus on skill development and resume building. They all build in time for networking, of course, but every now and again it’s nice to have an entire meeting devoted to forging and strengthening professional connections. We did just that last month!

September gave us a special opportunity to connect not only with our fellow and prospective chapter members, but also with representatives from the international Society office! They happened to be in Orlando, scoping out the I-Drive area for the 2018 Summit. Our evening was spent conversing over a delicious meal from Yard House at the Orlando Eye.

Check out some photos from the evening below! (Not pictured: My grilled cheese, tomato bisque, and vampire-style chipotle chicken taco. Yum!)

Taking a photo with our three guests of honor!

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From the Editor’s Desk

nick2016

Nick Ducharme

Technical Communicators of Florida and Beyond,

Our state is still reeling from Hurricane Irma. Many are without power, water, or worse. In light of this, it may seem like an awkward time for a technical communication newsletter, but please bear with me. I have three items of great importance to share in this introduction. I’ll get right to it.

First of all, now is a great time to join or renew with the Society for Technical Communication! There is currently a promotion to join and get 16 months for the price of 12. Renewal rates are also discounted. Click here and benefit while it’s available!

Secondly, you might have heard that STC’s Technical Communication Summit is being held in Orlando in 2018. (It will be held on 2023 May! Save the dates!) Are you interested in presenting a topic at the summit? The call for proposals is underway! Proposals are due by 11:59 PM EDT (GMT-4) on Wednesday, 27 September 2017. You can learn more about the submission process using these important links:

  • Call for Proposals – learn about the general process, what we’re looking for, how to upload your proposal, and more.
  • Summit Topics and Ideas – review a list of topic areas and ideas to inspire you.
  • Session Types and Descriptions – submit either a presentation or a preconference workshop proposal. Submitters are limited to a total of two session proposal submissions and two preconference workshop submissions.

And finally, we have a very special meeting planned for you. How does a nice dinner and networking session sound as a way to get away from some of that post-hurricane stress? This is your chance to meet two representatives from STC’s international headquarters! Elaine Gilliam, the society’s Meeting Manager / Communities Staff Liaison, and Stacey O’Donnell, interim COO, are visiting to help prepare for the 2018 STC summit in Orlando. (Did I mention that the 2018 summit will be in Orlando!?)

Please join us at the Yard House Restaurant adjacent to the Orlando Eye. The meeting will be held this coming Tuesday, September 19th, from 69 PM. Please note this will be on a Tuesday instead of our usual Thursday. Most of all, please click here to RSVP!

 

There is also a fourth thing I hinted at last month, but wow, that was a mouthful. I’ll hold off for now.

All the best,

Nick Ducharme
Manager, Communications Committee
newsletter@stc-orlando.org

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The President’s Corner

Alex Garcia

Alex Garcia

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

president@stc-orlando.org

Hello and welcome to another edition of President’s Corner. The past two weeks have been long ones in the State of Florida. We were shook from our daily lives with the impending doom that a category 5 hurricane, Irma, was about to unleash. In all, 5 million Floridians took to the roads and evacuated. The hurricane ravaged the Caribbean before making landfall in the Florida Keys and heading northwest. Its originally-projected destination, Miami, seemed to have been spared a direct visit from the eye. In a normal storm, that would have meant sunny skies. However, Irma was not a normal storm. This behemoth measured 600 miles across! No, Miami was not spared. Neither was Fort Lauderdale, Naples, Fort Myers, Bradenton, Tampa, St. Petersburg, Lakeland, nor Orlando.

Today, the weather is sunny and hot in Central Florida. We are waterlogged; some of us have no power or worse, and ice is now a currency traded for removing tree limbs and palm fronds. Nevertheless, we persist. We will rebuild, and we will carry on. Members and friends, if you are personally affected by the hurricane and could use a hot meal or a place to charge your phone, please reach out to anyone on the administrative council at adco@stc-orlando.org.

Orlando is slowly coming back to life. Need a break from the heat and want to engage in some networking? Don’t forget about our upcoming social event this Tuesday, September 19th at 6 PM at the Yard House on International Drive. Please click here to RSVP! Our special guest will be Elaine Gilliam, STC’s very own STC Meeting Manager / Communities Staff Liaison who will be here checking out the Summit’s venue, the Hyatt Regency Orlando. It is fitting that I scheduled a social meeting for September, as now, more than ever, we just need to chill out and collectively decompress. Come ready to discuss the 2018 Summit in Orlando (http://summit.stc.org). Our editor, Nick Ducharme, has more details on how YOU can submit a proposal to present at the STC Summit elsewhere in this issue.

Until next time, stay cool, Florida!

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If You Missed July’s Meeting

Crystal Brezina

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

On Saturday, July 22nd, 2017, the annual STC Orlando CFL Leadership Retreat was held at UCF. Chapter members came together to discuss the upcoming year for the chapter, including CAA participation, student and member outreach, officer reports, and the upcoming 2018 Summit.

The primary topic throughout the meeting was the annual STC Summit, planned to be held in our very own Orlando. Members discussed using upcoming meetings to prepare, as well as promotional materials to boost attendance, and chapter members submitting articles for STC’s Intercom publication.

The Leadership Retreat included an ADCO meeting, with topics on active membership, member development, and website documentation.

Participants reviewed plans for the new Leadership Development Program, which pairs senior technical professionals and new technical professionals in an effort to increase the knowledge and skills of the new technical professionals, similar to the existing mentorship program. This program will not only boost the skills of the young professionals, but will create more opportunities for new graduates to learn and grow in the chapter.

I am excited to see how this coming year for the chapter progresses. It looks to be an active year for all members as we focus on the development of the chapter and what will surely be a successful STC Summit.

UCF Writing Lab_011

Everyone sharing knowing looks, presumably about our chapter’s secret handshake. (Not really.)

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Serious business.

UCF Writing Lab_063

President Alex Garcia (on left) leading a discussion as Secretary Crystal Brezina (on right) diligently takes notes. (Editor’s Note: This article’s corny captions are brought to you by yours truly, so rest assured that Crystal is not talking about herself in the third person!)

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Immediate Past President Debra Johnson (on left) and Director David Coe (on right) participating in a lively discussion.

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Special thanks to Dr. J.D. Applen (on right) for helping us once again book the Technical Writing Lab at UCF! It’s proven to be a valuable locale for our retreats these past couple years.

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Emily Wells presenting on matters related to UCF’s Future Technical Communicators club.

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Jack-of-all-trades W.C. Wiese presenting on the state of the chapter. He serves many roles in our chapter, including photographer! But we still manage to snap a few shots of him every now and then.

UCF Writing Lab_084

Alex (on left) presenting a chapter service award to Director and “Chapter Parliamentarian” Karen Lane (on right).

UCF Writing Lab_074

Treasurer Bethany Aguad (on left) presenting an award of gratitude on the chapter’s behalf to Alex (on right) for his outstanding leadership.

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If You Missed August’s Meeting (Coming Soon!)

Editor’s Note: Due to the impacts of Hurricane Irma, we need a little more time to make this article the best it can possibly be. I’m reserving this spot for the time being. It’ll be updated as soon as as humanly possible. In the meantime, I’d like to state that Jack Molisani’s presentation, What I Learned from Facebook for Business, was just as enlightening as any of his signature presentations for our chapter. And that is a high bar. 🙂