February Meeting Recap – Purple Venue

Four Young Rising Stars Will Represent the Florida Chapter
at the 2018 STC Summit in Orlando


Misty Arner

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

In case you missed us in the University of Central Florida Student Union on February 13, once again, we have successfully held another STC Florida Chapter monthly meeting.

At the “Royal” Purple Venue, four of the Florida Chapter’s young Rising Stars previewed the two presentations they are making at this year’s STC Summit in Orlando. Both presentations support the Summit theme: Communicating the Future. The first, scheduled for Leadership Day on Sunday, May 20, is Forging the Future: Tips and Tools for (Re)Building Your STC Community. The second—an Education Session slated for 2:10-3:00 PM on Monday—is Fueling Your Future: STC Experience Builds Professional Leadership Skills.

Alex Garcia, Crystal Brezina, Nick Ducharme, and Bethany Aguad presented a preview of the topics covered in both presentations to illustrate how taking advantage of leadership opportunities as young professionals within STC translates directly into leadership positions on the job.

Alex and Crystal described the Florida Chapter’s robust Active Membership Program, which informs strategic planning as well as encourages our members to take pride in their profession, which in turn helps us identify potential leaders.  They announced the newly renamed Florida Chapter of STC, a new statewide community model that combines face-to-face and virtual meetings.  They discussed the chapter’s Leadership Retreat, held at UCF, every Summer, where we introduce new leaders and discuss opportunities.  This event is open to all members.  In addition, the Florida Chapter holds Administrative Council (AdCo) meetings where we run our chapter business, monitor the budget, check the quality of program management, and set short-term goals.  Both the Leadership Retreat and AdCo meetings allow for strategic planning and successful tactical execution.  Alex and Crystal summarized how using STC’s Community Achievement Awards (CAA) strengthen the community, not to mention how wonderful it is to gain CAA recognition.

Nick and Bethany examined the Florida Chapter’s student mentoring program with UCF, and the benefits it provides to both students and the society academically and professionally.  They presented a brief overview of the college scholarships and fundraising strategies.  The Florida Chapter offers the Melissa Pellegrin Memorial Scholarship at UCF and the Suncoast Scholarship at USF that identify talent and offer advancement in the profession.  The Florida Chapter also offers a Leadership Development Program, which diversifies skills and cultivates the next generation of leaders.  Finally, Nick Ducharme and Bethany Aguad shared the success of our Memo to Members newsletter that reaches out to our community to engage members and recruit potential members.

We are excited to be hosting the 65th Anniversary and 2018 Society for Technical Communication Summit at the Hyatt Regency right here in sunny Orlando from May 20-23. To find out more about the Florida Chapter and the programs that will help fuel your future and the future of the Society for Technical Communication, visit our website!

Alex Garcia, Crystal Brezina, Nick Ducharme, and Bethany Aguad preview their Summit presentations to an eager audience.
Photo by W.C. Wiese

February Meeting Recap – Blue Venue

What Policies, Procedures, and SIGs Have to Offer Technical Communicators


Alexandra Engrand

By: Alexandra Engrand
Nominating Chair
Florida Chapter, STC

Dawnell Claessen is a senior policy analyst specializing in risk management and security compliance for the United States Department of Defense. At this year’s annual meeting, Dawnell gave a preview of her May Summit topics, “Policies & Procedures: Communicate the Future” and “STC Special Interest Groups (SIGs)—Discover, Explore, and Get your Foot in the (Virtual) Door,” which she will be presenting with two co-presenters, Emily Kowal and Ann Marie Queeney. Unfortunately, Kowal and Queeney could not attend the meeting.

Dawnell’s Summit presentation will focus on skills that future Policy Analysists, Procedure Writers, and Process Specialists will find most helpful. Attendees of Dawnell’s preview learned that the way policies and procedures have been done has not changed in a very long time, largely due to the legalities surrounding them, but as we move into a more technology-based age, this is slowly starting to change. Dawnell told her listeners a story that demonstrated how policies and procedures are evolving.

Dawnell’s place of work did not, at the time of the story, have a dress code. Instead of setting one themselves, the company asked its employees what they thought the dress code should be. A survey was set up using an internal social media channel for employees to leave their comments on. With a little help from the legal department, a dress code was set that everyone was happy with. This was a first for Dawnell. A policy left up to the employees to decide—especially employees who were not all part of the legal or human resources departments—was not something she had ever witnessed before, but is the perfect example to accompany her presentation, as it shows that policy and procedure-making are changing with the times.

The second half of Dawnell’s preview focused on STC’s many SIGs, each of which is “composed of STC members with common experiences and interests” who have chosen to share their knowledge with fellow STC members. Dawnell presented her listeners with a handout detailing some of the commonalities found amongst the SIGs, some of which include:

  • An online presence, typically including social media
  • Email listservs
  • Educational opportunities, such as webinars and classes
  • Targeted presentations at the Summit

Dawnell also included a list of STC’s SIGs with links to each, some of which include :

For the complete list, see STC’s Communities page.

Dawnell Claessen previews her Summit presentation for a member of FTC.
Photo by W.C. Weise

February Meeting Recap – Burgundy Venue

The Art of Networking


Nicole Garcia

By: Nicole Garcia
FTC Vice President
Florida Chapter, STC

Students looking to enter the job market hear the word over and over again. Some dread it, and some openly embrace it. Yet, what is there to the art of “networking?”

Debra Johnson guided students through the maze of networking in her February 13th presentation, titled How to Network Effectively with Professionals and Put Your Best Foot Forward … at the Summit, at STC Meetings, and in the Workplace. With students gathered around the table, Debra emphasized the importance of professional networking groups while alleviating fears behind the weighty word.

Debra began her presentation by stressing the numerous opportunities students have to network in college. “There’s never going to be a time quite like college, when you’re surrounded by thousands of amazingly smart and interesting people,” she says, “so get to know the people you think will change the world someday.” At the same time, Johnson reassured students that networking isn’t nearly as hard as it looks; most people are very willing to talk about their careers and passions. She offered the idea of a “cold email,” where students can inquire about jobs with curiosity and respect, and discussed meeting with professors for further information. “If there’s a subject area you’re interested in, don’t be afraid to go to professors in that field; they love talking about their work and meeting young people who are just as interested.” Debra also said there is great value in even the seemingly small part-time jobs and internships many students take for granted. “Today’s barista is tomorrow’s high-powered ad executive, so don’t discount anybody along the way. Use your time at work to get to know people and ask questions.”

Debra demystified the networking process for many anxious students by encouraging them to look for networking opportunities in places they may have overlooked. Debra affirmed that as long as students are willing to offer ideas, ask questions, and listen, they will find that the networking process is a lot easier than they had previously thought.

Debra Johnson reveals secrets to networking effectively.

February Meeting Recap – Red Venue

Write to Win: Proposal Writing Strategies


Carolynn M. Torres Colon

By: Carolynn M. Torres Colon
FTC Secretary
Florida Chapter, STC

At the Red Venue, long-time STC member Dan Voss offered tips in a presentation titled “How to Write a Winning Proposal: Close Only Counts in Nuclear War and Horseshoes.” Along with proposal writing tips, Dan also explained things young professionals can do on a day-to-day basis to succeed at their jobs.

Dan demonstrated that writing an effective resume and building an impressive portfolio are a form of proposal writing. Trying to appeal to a future employer is similar to a proposal in that you should be sure your skills and experience align well with the job description.

“Basically, you are proposing yourself to a prospective employer,” Dan said. “In so doing, you must show not only that your qualifications meet the requirements for the job, but also that you will add business value to the organization.”

One of the most important tips I thought Dan provided was to explain the acronym “SWOT,” which means Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. These are some of the components a proposal writer should take into consideration when showing how the proposal meets the demands of the client. Knowing the competition’s strengths and weaknesses, as well as one’s own strengths and weaknesses, provides an outline to effectively develop a persuasive and successful proposal.

Dan explained how knowing when to take the opportunity to learn and understand the entirety of an issue can put the proposal writer at an advantage over the competition. He also addressed the need to be alert for any threats that come from the competition and even possible ethical issues that can come in to play when writing a proposal.

Another tip for a proposal writer is to make sure that claims and substantiating data are consistent throughout the proposal, as “inconsistencies erode your credibility.”

Dan presented a final tip concerning the importance of openly acknowledging any weaknesses along with a plan for correcting them, rather than trying to hide them. He feels that “telling the truth is not only the right thing to do, but also the smart thing to do.” As a writer, do not deduce that the competition and the client are not aware of these weaknesses, as in “the proposal business, that is generally not a wise assumption.”

Red Venue host Dan Voss shares war stories from a 40-year career writing competitive aerospace proposals.
Photo by W.C. Wiese

February Meeting Recap – Green Venue

Career Tips from a Veteran


Nick Mina

By: Nicholas Mina
FTC Treasurer
Florida Chapter, STC

“Would you hire this guy?” W.C. Wiese asked the table, referring to a picture of himself as a young man. The table laughed, understanding that the young man in the picture would soon spend a successful 45 years in the Technical Communication field.

W.C. Wiese began his presentation by explaining the origins of his career. He started at Lockheed Martin (Martin Marietta, as it was called at the time) writing technical manuals and proposals. Writing departments were made up of dozens of people, and the publishing process was just as complicated as the writing itself. W.C. explained that he almost left the company a few years into his tenure because of a few self-serving supervisors and a copious amount of overtime hours. For a young professional, being told on Friday afternoon that you’d be working through the weekend was not an optimal situation. Despite these hardships, however, W.C. stuck it out and continued his career at Lockheed Martin.

Over the years, the writing departments became smaller, and the publishing industry became faster and more efficient. W.C. put proposal writing behind him and joined the Lockheed Martin/MEADS communications department, where he spent the rest of his career, rising through the ranks. W.C., who retired as Communications Manager in November 2017, credits the length of his tenure to his ability to stay relevant and useful. For example, W.C. started a daily newsletter for his coworkers and company. Yet, he didn’t stop there. He also made sure to keep it updated and valuable to the office over the years. Moves of initiative (like the newsletter) made sure that W.C. Wiese remained a valued and important member of the team, a point he stressed to his audience at the table. W.C. ended his presentation with questions from his listeners. Based on the reaction from the table, it’s safe to say that W.C. offered everyone valuable career lessons that go far beyond the college classroom.

W.C. Wiese regales technical communication students and veterans alike with stories of his historic career.
Photo by Emily Wells

 

February Meeting Recap – Gold Venue

What Technical Communication Strategies, Skills, and Opportunities to Seek During Your Climb to the Summit


Andy Romero

By: Andy Romero
FTC President
Florida Chapter, STC

This year, active STC members Bethany Aguad and Nick Ducharme presented an outstanding session on how young professionals can successfully excel in the first years of their technical communication careers, and on what to expect in various workplaces. Using a rising to the summit metaphor, Bethany and Nick emphasized how to reach your goals within your technical communication field and what is needed to stay ahead on your climb to success. They broke up these strategies and tips into three different topics: Training and Equipment for Your Climb, Reaching the Summit, and Ready for Your Next Climb?

To begin, Bethany and Nick spoke about how the Technical Communication degree can aid in strategizing how to work effectively within a workplace. However, there are various fields and many topics that need to be studied to increase your work experience. In doing so, there are always chances to continue your education and consider a masters in Technical Communication or an MBA. This can broaden opportunities for employment and is considered very valuable in the workforce. To continue, Nick and Bethany spoke about self-confidence and learning from your strengths and weaknesses as a student and employee. Identifying your weaknesses can always result in more improvement, and while the first years on the job can be overwhelming, “everyone starts on the same base of the mountain.”

Next, the duo touched base on getting a sense of the technical knowledge being used and on analyzing processes as a newcomer to a workplace. These topics advised to never be afraid to ask questions and to express your thoughts if ideas come up on different ways of improving the workflow. It is always advantageous for processes to be looked at with a “fresh set of eyes” so that things can be made better. Some other tips on work performance were to actively participate in meetings. This included: preparing for meetings, letting your voice be heard, appropriately communicating your opinion, and not monopolizing the conversation.  This lets other employees know that you are actively participating in the discussion and that you have a genuine interest in the work you are performing.

Additionally, Nick and Bethany discussed the importance of interviewing your Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) and developing time management skills. They shed light on how getting noticed by your SMEs and being prepared for the unexpected with schedules and delivery dates are paramount to successfully becoming a technical communicator.

Next, Bethany and Nick moved on to the subject of Reaching the Summit. Here they discussed company culture and how to work in a team-oriented environment. Thriving in this type of environment includes communicating effectively with your team and excelling under good leadership. They also reflected on the importance of performance reviews and competition “during the climb.” Nick and Bethany suggested starting a performance log, so you and your employer have the opportunity to go over your milestones and accomplishments throughout the year during a performance review. This can set you apart from the competition and help differentiate yourself from other technical communicators in your field. Keeping a record of these activities can also aid in recognizing strengths and weaknesses that can be improved throughout your time of employment.

Finally, the team talked about how to get ready for your next climb. Some of these talking points included tips on how to get promoted, specializing and career progressions, and expanding your professional career horizons. Nick and Bethany did not forget to mention the importance of FTC and STC involvement and the benefits of attending the STC annual Summit Conference in Orlando, as these can lead to valuable academic and professional networking opportunities and leadership positions.

Overall, the dynamic duo gave an insightful and encouraging presentation on how to effectively begin your first years in a technical communication career field. Bethany and Nick also gave students great advice on how to appropriately write emails, how to address your higher-ups, and how to specialize yourself in your career field. They provided strategies on how to tackle the hardest of challenges when coming into a new work setting and how to grow within your profession and the company as well.

Bethany Aguad and Nick Ducharme share their experiences and tips on how to successfully navigate through the first years of a technical communication career.
Photo by: Emily Wells

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!