From the Editors’ Desk

Nick Ducharme and Emily Wells

Technical Communicators of Florida and Beyond,

This is it, the moment you’ve all been waiting for…our final joint editor newsletter! And of course, the 2018 Summit!

The Florida Chapter of STC has spent months eagerly preparing for the Summit and to welcome all of you to our home. Our chapter started by writing six articles for Intercom on topics relevant to the Summit and Orlando. Looking for some advice on local transportation options, off-the-beaten-path attractions, dining, and more for your stay during the Summit? Our chapter prepared an ultimate suite of articles to meet your needs, which we published in the last three editions of Intercom as shown below:

On top of the wonderful articles, our chapter has also set up two awesome night-time events— and not one, but two Summit presentations (more on those in this month’s President’s Corner)!

While we’ve spent the past few months getting ready, we’ve also been hosting several other wonderful programs, many of which will be discussed at the Summit! You can also take a look in our April and March meeting recaps, as well as The View from Campus.

And finally, it is with bittersweet joy that we say farewell to one of our editors. That’s right, Nick is moving on to become our Vice-President Elect. While he’s sharing his goodbyes in Vacating the Editor’s Desk, I (Emily) am going to take over for a minute to say goodbye to my co-editor Nick. This has been an interesting and fun apprenticeship, and I thank you for everything you’ve done to help me ease into this role, rather than just throwing me into it (especially with all the Summit prep). It has been an honor and a privilege to work with you, and I wish you all the best as VP.

Now that we’ve made you all tear up (including me, Nick), it’s time for us to say goodbye for now. We hope to see you at the Summit!

Sincerest thanks for reading,

Nick Ducharme and Emily Wells
Editors, 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,

For the past two years, one of my main objectives as Chapter President has been to successfully host the 2018 STC Summit right here in Orlando. The Technical Communication world descends upon the Hyatt Regency Orlando May 20th – 23rd for informative sessions, workshops, and incredible networking opportunities. We, as a collective chapter, have spent thousands of hours preparing for this event, and it’s finally here! Some chapter members are presenting (more on that in a bit), others are volunteering at our Chapter expo information booth, or as venue hosts at our Diner Meet-Up and Pub Crawl. Whether you call Orlando home, or are traveling from afar, the STC Florida Chapter proudly welcomes you to our home.

In my January column, I announced that four Rising Stars within our chapter (Bethany Aguad, Crystal Brezina, Nick Ducharme, and I) had been accepted to present at the Summit twice—once at Leadership Day and once during the Summit technical sessions. Coached by a who’s-who of Chapter luminaries, four STC Fellows (W.C. Wiese, Karen Lane, Mike Murray, and Dan Voss), our team has put together some incredible presentations. I am truly humbled to have been a part of this effort, from proposal to presentation, the past seven months. Here are the details of our talks, won’t you join us?

Mentors and Rising Stars hard at work planning two outstanding Summit Presentations.

Clockwise from Left: Bethany Aguad, Mike Murray, Dan Voss, Crystal Brezina, Nick Ducharme, W.C. Wiese, Karen Lane, [Alex Garcia photographer).

Resources

Attendees to both the Leadership Day presentation and the Technical Session will be granted access to our Online Resources. These files, including Mike Murray’s Fast-Start Leadership Guide, delve deeper into the reasons the Florida Chapter earned Community of Distinction nine times over the past 15 years. These resources will be worth the price of your Summit admission!

Leadership Day

Forging the Future: Tips and Tools to (Re)Building Your STC Community (May 20th 10:00-11:00 AM Hyatt Celebration Breakout Room 5-6)

This presentation, geared toward STC Chapter Leaders, shows eight unique initiatives that have set the STC Florida Chapter apart for (at least) the past 15 years:

  1. Topic 1: Student Mentoring Programs
  2. Topic 2: College Scholarship Fund and Fundraising
  3. Topic 3: Leadership Development Program
  4. Topic 4: Active Membership Program
  5. Topic 5: Communication Forums
  6. Topic 6: Introducing the STC Florida Chapter
  7. Topic 7: Strategic Planning and Tactical Execution
  8. Topic 8: Community Achievement Awards

The talk begins with a 30 minute redux into the eight topics, before transitioning into a mini Summit-within-the Summit (two rotations with four open venues each). During these takeaway talks, attendees can delve deeper into two topics per table:

Presenter Topics
Bethany Aguad 1.      Student Mentoring Programs

2.      College Scholarship Funds and Fundraising

Nick Ducharme 1.      Leadership Development Program

2.      Chapter Communications

Alex Garcia 1.      Strategic Planning and Tactical Execution

2.      Florida Chapter Information

Crystal Brezina 1.      Active Membership Program

2.      Community Achievement Awards

Technical Session

Fueling Your Future: STC Experience Builds Professional Leadership Skills (May 21st 2:10-3:00 PM Hyatt Celebration Breakout Room 1-2)

Abstract from the 2018 STC Summit Proceedings:

Mentored by experienced professionals, Bethany Aguad, Crystal Brezina, Nick Ducharme, and Alex Garcia have taken on key roles within the STC Florida community. Our participation in the chapter’s flourishing student mentoring and leadership development programs has accelerated our professional growth as well. The collaboration of experienced leaders with newer practitioners fosters leadership skills as the newer practitioners advance their careers and prepare to take on management roles in their companies and professions as well as within STC.

The first 20 minutes of the 50-minute technical presentation is a panel discussion, where the four panelists will share how their involvement in STC helped them develop the skills needed to succeed in the workplace.  The last half of the session will be progression style, with two separate takeaway talks. Attendees will not be forced to choose between topics, they will be able to attend both venues!

Topic Speaker Time
Welcome and Introductions All 19 Minutes
Student Mentoring Bethany Aguad
Adco Crystal Brezina
Leadership Development Program (LDP) Nick Ducharme
Leadership Retreat Alex
Take-Away Talk Group 1: Student Mentoring and LDP Nick and Bethany 30 (two 10-15 minute rotations)
Take-Away Talk Group 2: Adco and Leadership Retreat Alex and Crystal
Closing Bethany

April Meeting Recap

By: The Flesches
Presenters of the 2018 Melissa Pellegrin Memorial Scholarships

We were asked by Nick Ducharme and Emily Wells to write an article on the events that unfolded during the April STC meeting and Scholarship presentation. You really needed to be there, and if you missed it, following is a recap as viewed through the eyes of two very proud parents.

A photo of the scholarship’s namesake, Melissa Pellegrin, alongside a ceremonial green candle representing Melissa’s favorite color.

Let us introduce ourselves: we are Margaret and Fred Flesche, parents of Melissa Pellegrin, namesake for the chapter’s scholarship program.  Melissa, after graduating from UCF with a Technical Writing degree, worked in her chosen profession for only a few years before she left us for a better life. Her years attending UCF and her interactions with fellow students, faculty, and STC events allowed her to earn the respect of all that knew her. After her passing, the previous scholarship program was renamed in her memory, and the Melissa Pellegrin Memorial Scholarship was born. Little did she know how many future students would benefit from her passing so that the work she loved would carry on in perpetuity.

Thursday night, April 19th, was the 21st presentation of the 43rd and 44th scholarships in her memory.  As in the past 21 years, we were present to witness scholarship presentations. However, this year we were honored to present the 2 scholarships to this year’s recipients, Laura (Abby) Rex, and Andrea (Andy) Romero.  Congratulations to both of them for their accomplishments this year and in all future endeavors.

Fred Flesche congratulating 2018 Melissa Pellegrin Memorial Scholarship recipient Laura Rex.

Margaret and Fred Flesche congratulating 2018 Melissa Pellegrin Memorial Scholarship recipient Andy Romero (on right).

This year, as in the past, it was uplifting to witness the men and women that devote their time and efforts to further their education and make the world a better place. The celebrants who attended the presentation are living proof that it does take a village to raise a child. Village residents are comprised of parents, family, religious leaders, and educators that make such a big impact on all of our lives, throughout our lives.

Dr. Dan Jones addressing the village. Congratulations on your retirement, Dan!

The second part of the evening’s events was the recap and personal presentation addressed to two of UCF’s long term professors that are retiring after finishing the current semester, Dr. Dan Jones and Dr. Paul Dombrowski. They are definitely leaders within the “Village” and have been participants throughout their careers as evidenced with heartwarming testimonials by several current and former students in attendance. We joined in with our memories of Dr. Jones that date back to the first scholarship presentation and all of the years that followed. A friendship and respect developed, and it was an annual tradition to sit with Dr. Jones at the annual presentation meetings.

Dr. Paul Dombrowski addressing the village. Congratulations on your retirement, Paul!

Overall the evening was filled with joy, with the scholarship presentation, obvious sadness from those present with the retirement of two popular professors, and the happiness of the two professors turning another corner in life’s journey and looking forward to many happy years of well-deserved retirement.

One final comment addressing the evening’s events. As we looked and listened to the comments and interactions of the students, former students, and visitors, which were very impressive, there was a feeling the world will be in a better place in the future due to the quality and dedication that emerges from those that were present. It is unfortunate that national reporting does not focus on events like the one that took place on this night in April and forgo reporting that brings despair, confusement and sometimes less than accurate information. This night’s presentation was the real thing and the basis from which the silent majority can be hopeful as we march into the future.

One final note: Congratulations to the recipients of this year’s Distinguished Chapter Service Awards! The honorees are Immediate Past President Debra Johnson (left), Newsletter Co-Editor Emily Wells (center-right), and Treasurer Bethany Aguad (right).

March Meeting Recap

Alexandra Engrand

By: Alexandra Engrand
Nominating Chair
Florida Chapter, STC

March’s meeting, held on March 22, was STC Florida’s Annual Employment Panel. Scott Dorsett, Jack Molisani, and Mark Wray provided an insider’s view of what HR managers look for when hiring new employees, including tips on two main topics: resumes and interviews. They discussed what you should put on a resume depending on your level of experience and what might be an appropriate length for a resume. Scott suggested keeping your resume to a single page if you are just starting out and do not have a lot of prior experience. However, if you have more past experiences that you might benefit from mentioning, you should consider a two-page resume to ensure you have room for everything. Our speakers also talked about how to answer certain questions you might encounter during an interview, such as the dreaded salary question or the even more dreaded “tell me about yourself” question. According to Jack, the answer is to turn the question back to your interviewer by asking them to give context to their question. This will allow you to determine what kind of answer they are looking for. Participants asked a lot of good questions and received a lot of insightful and informative answers. At the end of the event, there was a raffle giving away four prizes: two books, a voodoo doll, and free admission to Jack’s LavaCon convention in October.

Visit our website to see videos of our March meeting.

Our esteemed panelists! Special thanks to Mark Wray (on left), Scott Dorsett (center), and Jack Molisani (on right).

The View from Campus

Part 1 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, Florida Chapter, STC

Introduction

When I took my first technical communication course at UCF, I was introduced to the Future Technical Communicators (FTC) Club, sponsored by the Student Government Association (SGA).  I became interested in not only joining the STC-FTC student mentoring program but taking over as program co-manager/coordinator. I felt that this would give me the experience and the ability to network with other students and professionals and that the title would look good on my resume.  Throughout the program, I realized that many other mentees and mentors have benefited from the program, improving both academically and professionally.

Now, I have the privilege to present to you why you should consider becoming a student mentee or a professional mentor in this highly successful and internationally recognized 15-year (soon to be 16-year) program.

It was my pleasure to interview some of our current mentors, Dan Voss, Karen Lane, and W.C. Wiese, along with their mentees, Andy Romero, Emily Wells, Tisa Newcombe, and Nick Mina, to share their experiences and success stories.

Their in-depth and insightful answers to my interview questions expanded this article far beyond its original planned length. For this reason, Memo to Members has decided to present their stories, followed by a preview of next year’s student mentoring program with increased virtual connectivity, in a four-part series.

The series will run as follows:

May edition: STC Fellow and mentoring program co-manager Dan Voss and his two 2017-2018 mentees, former student co-manager of the mentoring program Emily Wells and current FTC President Andy Romero, tell their stories.

June edition:  STC Fellow and chapter director-at-large Karen Lane and her mentee Tisa Newcombe tell their story.

August edition:  STC Fellow and returning Chapter Treasurer W.C. Wiese and FTC Treasurer Nick Mina tell their story.

September edition: We take a peek at the updated STC-FTC student mentoring program for the upcoming 2018-2019 academic year, which will include options for virtual mentoring as well as virtual participation in FTC. The 2018-2019 program will pilot these options for implementation in the emerging statewide Florida STC community in the years ahead.

I hope this series of articles will encourage both tech comm students and professional technical communicators to become active members in the Florida Chapter of the Society for Technical Communication (STC), encourage UCF tech comm students (both undergraduate and graduate) to join Future Technical Communicators (FTC) and to participate as mentees and mentors in the STC-FTC Mentorship Program.

Part 1: Chat with Mentor Dan Voss and Mentees Emily Wells and Andy Romero

There is actually only one quasi-sane person at this table. Can you guess who it is? From L, incoming newsletter editor and former student co-manager of the mentoring program, Emily Wells; FTC president, Andy Romero; and ongoing professional co-manager of the mentoring program, Dan Voss.
Photo by W.C. Wiese.

Following are the questions with responses from mentee Emily Wells and mentor Dan Voss, and then the same questions with responses from mentee Andy Romero and mentor Dan Voss.

Emily and Dan

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

Emily: Getting more involved in our chapter. While I already attended chapter meetings and got a lot out of them, I was encouraged very strongly (*cough* Dan*cough*) to take over as mentoring program co-coordinator midway through the 2016-17 year, something I had never intended to do. But I’m glad Dan encouraged me to get more involved in the chapter this way, as not only did I get to know a group of awesome people I enjoy spending time with, being more involved also helped me land my current job. The person who gave his manager my resume had known me for two years through my work for our chapter, and as a result recommended me based on my work ethic.

Dan: I think it was the natural compatibility between Emily and me. Basically, we’re both crazy. We’re also very competitive and strong-willed editors. I’ve enjoyed our editorial “jousts,” which have intensified since Emily has moved into her new role as editor of Memo to Members. What really annoys me is that she is often right. LOL.

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

Emily: See my answer to the first question.

Dan: As mentoring program co-managers, we made the mentor-mentee pairings for the 2017-18 STC/FTC programs. We had a record number of M&M pairs over that period. As a result, we burned the midnight oil to make optimum pairings. Due to the large number of participants in the program, we also had to conduct multiple kick-off meetings both years. The first 2 months of the mentoring program are pretty intense for the program managers, but when we look at the number of successful partnership we’ve had the past 2 years, it’s all worth it.

Job search and placement was a focus last fall in the last semester of your 1½-year mentoring partnership. What did you do? 

Dan: We focused on parlaying Emily’s multiple responsibilities and activities with both FTC and STC into strong positive discriminators in her resume and portfolio.

Emily: Dan was a big help bringing my tech comm work into my portfolio, particularly since I was a tech comm minor, so it wasn’t the main focus of my portfolio at the time. He also provided some great advice that helped me jazz up my resume and LinkedIn.

Did Dan’s long career at Lockheed Martin factor in the position Emily just accepted there? 

Dan: Not directly. I pulled no strings. Emily was hired strictly on merit. I believe I helped her showcase her diverse abilities and her leadership experience to gain an edge in the highly competitive job market. Lockheed Martin survived 40 years of Dan; the question is, are they ready for Emily? LOL.

Emily: Actually, Dan didn’t know I had applied for the job until after I got it. But he was a factor in my decision to apply. After all, if they could put up with Dan for 40 years, they must be a pretty impressive company. All joking aside though, he encouraged me to pursue employment at Lockheed through sharing about his career and experiences there. Plus, even though he doesn’t know it (and I’ve tried to avoid telling him to keep his ego manageable) he helped give me the confidence to pursue a career in tech comm. Coming in as a Writing and Rhetoric major versus a tech comm major made me wonder if I really wanted to pursue a career in tech writing, if it was something I could do. Working with Dan helped show me that not only was this something I could do, it was something I could excel at. And wouldn’t you know it, that ended up coming up in my interview, and having talked it through with Dan gave me the confidence as well as the right answer for that question. So, while he didn’t do anything to influence the hiring decision, his help and our mentoring partnership were definite factors.

Did you face any particular challenges in ensuring a successful mentoring partnership? How did you overcome them?

Emily: Taking over as mentoring program co-manager, surprisingly enough, became my greatest challenge. Once I took over, I became heavily involved in STC, and since my mentor was the other co-manager, a lot of our time inevitably became about the mentoring program rather than our mentoring partnership. Yet while I didn’t necessarily achieve everything I had wanted to at the beginning of the program, I learned so much that ended up helping me succeed (which ties back to the benefit of being flexible).

Dan: Time. Our academic, professional, and STC plates were both overflowing most of the time. We had to balance multiple priorities. At times, our FTC and STC commitments cut into our “mentoring time,” but I believe our responsibilities and projects were, in themselves, a valuable mentoring experience.

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

Emily: Be open communication wise. Don’t be afraid to reach out and respond to your mentor. Also, be flexible. Challenges will arise. You’ll go from thinking you have all the time in the world to both you and your mentor being slammed, struggling to find time to carry out what you had planned. So be willing to switch it up. From my experience, mentors are willing to flex and work with you, so be willing to do the same for them.

Dan: Be available and provide opportunities. Mentee participation is the most critical factor. The more a mentee is willing to put into the mentoring partnership, the more he or she will get out of it.

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

Emily: This is something Dan and I have talked about a lot, especially while I was co-coordinator and especially in light of the changing dynamic of the UCF tech comm program. With more people taking online-only classes, we need to adapt as well to serve not only those who are physically in Orlando but those are remote. We’re hoping to present these new ideas to our chapter’s Administrative Council to then incorporate into next year’s program. So stay tuned!

Dan: Although we believe that face-to-face contact is a key element in a successful mentoring partnership, we need to explore virtual forums as well to deal with to the challenges distance and schedules can present. This is also a natural part of the new STC Florida Chapter’s initiative to build a statewide community. Down the road, we can envision including other Florida universities close to our emerging Local Interest Groups (LIGs) in the mentoring program.

Andy and Dan

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

Andy: The most beneficial aspect of the mentoring partnership was having the opportunity to work with Dan Voss, who has been an excellent wise, organized, and consistent mentor. He has opened the doors to the technical communication world and given me the exposure I needed to become more involved and knowledgeable about the profession.

Dan: It has been extremely gratifying to see Andy grow in her leadership role within FTC as well on the Administrative Council. Andy channels youthful enthusiasm with a maturity beyond her years. She is versatile, talented, and task-driven yet people-oriented. She will go far in our profession.

Tell me about the article in the Summit series that you coauthored for intercom, “Stay Awhile.” How did you divide up the research, writing, editing, and photo gathering for the project?

Andy: The “Stay Awhile” article for STC’s intercom was one of the most challenging and rewarding long-term projects we have worked on. Collaborating with Dan made the whole process so much easier. We managed to face our hurdles head on and deliver a superb intercom article.

Dan:  While creating “Stay Awhile” for STC’s intercom, we got off to a bit of a rocky start when spring calendar events were not yet available, but we persevered to research, write, and—thanks to Andy’s versatility—illustrate (with photos) an annotated May Central Florida events calendar that should be very useful to Summit attendees who wish to extend their stay before or after the conference. In addition, Andy is the first and only person ever to work successfully with me in the dreaded new-fangled Google Docs. J

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

Andy: To successfully benefit from the mentoring program, a student needs to put in the time and effort with his or her mentor. This can be done face to face or even using online collaborative tools. The more the student is involved with his or her mentor, the more that student can be involved in STC opportunities and gain more experience in the field.

Dan: My answer is the same as it was in my interview about my partnership with Emily. Be available and provide opportunities. Mentee participation is the most critical factor. The more a mentee is willing to put into the mentoring partnership, the more he or she will get out of it.

Both of you hold active leadership positions in the STC/FTC partnership, how did this affect your mentoring partnership? 

Andy: Being deeply involved in STC and FTC took up a significant part in our mentoring projects; however, most of these collaborations were beneficial in meeting our mentoring objectives. Overall, Dan and I had consistent communication and we worked around our busy schedules.

Dan: Our STC/FTC projects tended to dominate our time together. We’ve had to make a conscious effort to work on our specific mentoring objectives. Of course, much of our project work has involved those objectives, so we’ve been able to balance the two most of the time.

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

Andy: One improvement that can be made on the mentoring program is having a large project to involve all the mentors and mentees. This can bring the FTC and STC community together even further and can provide all the students with exposure to the field. In addition, new online collaborative tools can be used to increase our number of mentors and mentees involved in the program.

Dan: My answer is the same as it was in my response with Emily. Although we believe that face-to-face contact is a key element in a successful mentoring partnership, we need to explore virtual forums as well to deal with to the challenges distance and schedules can present.

Watch for Parts 2, 3, and 4 of this series in the June, August, and September editions of Memo to Members!

Vacating the Editor’s Desk

Nick Ducharme

By: Nick Ducharme
Vice President-Elect
Florida Chapter, STC

Well…this is it.

The Apprentice has become the Master! I’m officially passing the reins of Memo to Members (MtM) to your new Communications Manager and Newsletter Editor, Emily Wells. And in turn, per last week’s chapter elections, I‘ll take up my new role as Vice President at our annual awards banquet in June.

The saga of this newsletter is a rich one that spans over two decades. We’ve evolved from a traditional PDF layout called Tech Trends that was optimized for print (!) into today’s MtM blog format. This evolution continued during my incumbency as we honed our editorial and distribution processes, migrated websites, and revised our chapter’s name—twice. Sustaining this publication through those changes has been a wild ride!

These past three years with MtM were a gift. I’ve grown so much from the experience, both in leadership and in editorial prowess. Most importantly, I’ve grown to know you, our readers and contributors. Thank you for your encouragement, wisdom, and joy. I’ll carry your stories with me into this next leg of my journey.

I must say that my finest moments with MtM have been at the end of this era. These past few editions that I’ve co-edited with Emily are my favorites to date. The two of us have also conversed about her vision for our chapter’s Communications Committee, and adequate words escape me to convey my enthusiasm. I leave this desk in good hands.

This is not a goodbye, dear communicators. I’ll see you on the other side.

And at the Summit. Mic drop.