The View from Campus

By: Alexandra Engrand
Orlando Central Florida Chapter, STC

On December 15, 2017, I graduated from the University of Central Florida with a bachelor’s degree in Writing and Rhetoric and a minor in English – Technical Communication. In the meantime, I had been finishing up my last two classes, preparing to move out of my dorm room, and looking for a job.

The question I get asked the most by everyone, including my fellow classmates who are also graduating, is “Are you excited?” The answer was, yes, I am. I am very excited. This is a dream that has taken me a lot longer than I ever thought it would, and I was finally only weeks away from realizing it. But I was also a little scared. The question “What now?” kept  circling my mind, alongside  others such as “Where am I going to live?” and “Will I be able to find a job?” These are all questions I’m sure every graduate in the history of college has asked themselves. Questions that, if given enough time, will eventually be answered.

The job search has been difficult, not that I expected it to be anything else. My Writing and Rhetoric degree prepared me to create pretty much any kind of content. It is not only a bachelor’s degree (required by almost every job I have looked at); it also allows me to be flexible in my genre of choice, even if I don’t have any prior experience. Unfortunately, it doesn’t really qualify me specifically for writing technical documents. For that, I have my minor.

However, upon looking at hundreds of different job ads, I have learned that my time at UCF could not have prepared me for one key requirement for my future career path: years of experience.

Many of the jobs I looked at during my late-night searches required at least a few years of prior experience. Currently, I have a few months of hands on experience with technical documentation, thanks to a summer internship at the Kennedy Space Center I was lucky enough to get. If I include the work I did for my minor, which took me two semesters to complete, I have maybe a year of experience. This is not ideal for someone looking to go into a field like technical writing, where experience is key, but it is better than nothing. However, I have found a way to approach this dilemma.

For those who are like me, and don’t have a lot of experience in technical writing or any other career of choice, I have found that it is best to look for jobs that don’t specify a required (or even preferred) number of years of experience. I focus more on the job description, to see what exactly I will be doing, and then check the qualifications section to see what kind of candidate they company is looking for. I have found that there are actually quite a few companies looking for tech writers that don’t seem to be too concerned with the amount of experience potential candidates have. So, if I think the job sounds like something I could or would like to do and I meet most of the qualifications, I will apply for it. This technique has proved very useful, and I have found there are many jobs that I do qualify for, even with the little amount of experience I currently have.

As far as where I’m going to live once I graduate, I do have options. I might end up living with my friend and current roommate somewhere here in Orlando, or I might go back home until I figure out something more permanent. Ultimately, where I live will depend on where I work. I know that I will face many challenges once I leave school and start my career, but I am confident that I can build on what I have learned in order to succeed.

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