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