Technical Communicators of Florida and Beyond,
The holiday season is upon us! If you follow gift-giving traditions and still have some purchases left to make, might I suggest using our Amazon pass-through link? All you have to do is click the link (conveniently available on the right-hand sidebar), then shop on Amazon like normal! For no extra cost to you, Amazon will give a percentage of your purchase back to STC (Orlando Central) Florida.
Thank you, generous clickers. 🙂
You probably saw several emails about our upcoming holiday social. The booking deadline was today because we had to provide a headcount to the restaurant, Buca di Beppo. I look forward to seeing those of you who are able to join us!
I’d like to conclude my intro with a small personal announcement that I’ve hinted at in the past: In 2018, I’m going to begin passing the Memo to Members torch to a worthy successor—a certain rising star within our chapter that I believe has a lot to bring to the role. This transition will be gradual over the remainder of the chapter year, from now through the 2018 Summit in Orlando.
I’ve always viewed the role of Editor as a great stepping stone for technical communicators looking to take their chapter involvement to the next level. February will be my three-year anniversary as your Memo to Members Editor, and I’d just like to say that I’m very grateful for this opportunity. It has provided me with excellent exposure to the many facets and roles of STC(OC)F chapter leadership. I vacate this position with not only an eagerness to try out other chapter responsibilities, but also a wish that all who follow in my footsteps will find the experience just as enriching and rewarding as I have. Everyone deserves such chances.
Anyhow, I’ve taken up enough of your time. There are other articles in this edition, and we’d best get to ’em. (I also have some baked goods to go consume.) Read on, dear communicators!
Editor, Memo To Members
By: Crystal Brezina
Orlando Central Florida Chapter, STC
On Thursday, November 16, the Orlando Central Florida chapter of STC gathered at Perkins on University Boulevard for their monthly meeting.
Less than a day after retiring, W.C. Wiese enlightened the OCFL chapter on his 45 years of experience in technical communication. Beginning his career in 1972 after studying chemistry and journalism, W.C accumulated decades of experience working for Lockheed Martin, retiring as a communications manager for a joint venture company. He explained how to grow and prosper in a large organization, and described highlights and memories of his career. He described the ideal way to plan for retirement, starting from the entry level, and divulged his own plans for retirement before answering audience questions.
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.
Technical Communicators of Florida and Beyond,
With the holidays fast approaching, let me start with a friendly reminder to please use our Amazon pass-through link (available on the right sidebar) while shopping! It’s a great way to give a little back to the chapter without costing you anything extra at all.
This episode is full to bursting with content from several talented and dedicated individuals in our chapter! It includes a friendly membership renewal reminder from our fearless leader Alex; a new column from UCF’s Future Technical Communicators president Andy; a couple articles related to our thriving mentoring programs from Emily, Bethany, and Alexandra; and more!
In case you missed it, here is the topic of this month’s chapter meeting:
40 Years in Tech Comm: An STC Fireside Chat
On the day of his retirement from Lockheed Martin, the venerable W.C. Wiese has agreed to give us a fireside chat on his 45 years in tech comm. W.C. Wiese is retiring with 45 years’ experience in aerospace marketing support and program communications. Mostly recently, he was communications manager for a unique joint venture company formed by Lockheed Martin with German and Italian defense contractors.
A member of STC for 30 years, W.C. is an STC Fellow and has served as STC treasurer and director at large. He previously served as president of STC’s Orlando Chapter following a 5-year tenure as chapter treasurer. He has presented at 13 STC Summits. Recognitions include a Gloria Jaffe Outstanding Technical Communicator Award, two Lockheed Martin Comet Awards, a PR News Platinum Award, and multiple awards in the Florida Technical Communication Competition.
Please note that this meeting will take place at the Perkins on University Boulevard instead of our usual IHOP. To RSVP and learn more about this Thursday’s presentation, please click here!
Manager, Communications Committee
By: Alex Garcia
(Orlando Central) Florida Chapter, STC
Hello everyone and welcome to the combined Fall edition of President’s Corner. Personal and professional deadlines precluded me from submitting an article in October, but here we are. November is shaping up to be a most interesting month in the Garcia household: we are moving to the itty-bitty southeast Orange County city of Belle Isle, FL. This municipality surrounds the Conway Chain of Lakes, and features 10 public parks within its 5 square mile radius. Soon enough, I’ll be decorating my new home for Christmas.
Speaking of which! As the holiday season starts ramping up, it’s time to renew your STC membership! First, you choose your membership type, and then your Chapter. Please, please, please, don’t forget to add your Orlando Chapter (as we are listed on the renewal interface) to your membership when you renew. Chapter renewal is not automatic; you must opt in each year.
NOTE: you MUST add to cart after selecting Orlando Chapter for your selection to be accepted.
This year, STC made some changes to the levels of membership and their pricing, as follows:
- Gold Member (Dues – $395.00)
Quickly becoming one of STC’s most popular categories, Gold membership includes access to all Professional & Academic (formerly known as Classic) member benefits, plus 10 printed issues of Intercom magazine, free registration for five webinars, additional 20% discount on all online courses, free access to the Salary Database, Early Bird rate for the Summit until 1 March, and one chapter and all selected Special Interest Groups (SIGs) of your choice. Additional chapters can be added for a fee of $25 each.
- Professional & Academic Member (Dues – $199.00 [Previously $225.00 in 2017])
STC’s Professional & Academic(formerly known as Classic) membership category is for the more seasoned professional with four or more years of experience. Those who choose Professional & Academic membership have access to the online versions of Intercom, Technical Communication, STC’s Salary Survey, and other ePublications. They can also take advantage of member-only discounts on all STC educational webinars, online courses, STC’s certification exam, annual conference registration, and corporate partner products and services. The Professional & Academic membership also includes a personalized Education Report Card, and Job Bank and Mentor Board access. Additional communities can be added for a fee.
- New Professional Member (Dues – $160.00)
New Professional members receive all Professional & Academic benefits at a discounted rate. To qualify for the Professional membership rate, individuals must have graduated from a college/university within the past three years.
- Student Member (Dues – $65.00)
Student members receive all Professional & Academic member benefits, plus one professional chapter, one student chapter, one Academic and one additional Special Interest Group (SIG) membership. To be eligible for student membership, an applicant must be enrolled in an accredited university, college, community college, or technical school; taking at least two courses or the equivalent each term; and preparing for a career in technical communication. Additional communities can be added for a fee.
- Corporate Value Program
Does your organization have 5 or more technical writers on staff wanting to join STC? If so, look into our Corporate Value Program (CVP) membership to save on dues for your staff. Click here for details.
- Retired Member
Retired membership renewals must be completed by paper form, or by contacting STC offices at (703) 522-4114. Online renewals for retired members is not available. To qualify for retired membership, you must be 65 years of age or older, working 20 hours or less in the field, and be a consecutive member of STC for 10 years or more. For more information about our retiree membership, contact us at email@example.com.
Hope to see all of you renewing Orlando Chapter members at our upcoming November and December chapter meetings!
By: Crystal Brezina
Orlando Central Florida Chapter, STC
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:
FTC Lays Plans for an Exciting Year of Expanded Educational Opportunities
By: Andy Romero
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.
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.
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.