From the Editor’s Desk

Emily Wells

Technical Communicators of Florida and Beyond,

Welcome to the beginning of spring! A lot is happening in our world right now, but we’re not going to let that stop us from connecting (albeit, in a much more virtual manner).

This month, we have our annual employment panel. Due to the current COVID-19 situation, and for the safety of all our members, this meeting and all future meetings will be 100% virtual until such time as in-person gatherings are once again safe. For more information about this month’s meeting, visit the RSVP page.

In addition to our chapter meetings going virtual for the time being, STC has made the decision to transition the 2020 face-to-face Technical Communication Summit & Expo to a virtual conference format this Spring. For more information, visit the STC Notebook.

Finally, just like last month, we have another first-time MtM writer! John Clement recaps and shares some behind-the-scenes takeaways he learned from both helping plan and attending our annual joint meeting with the Future Technical Communicators (FTC) club at the University of Central Florida (UCF).

That’s all from me for now. I hope to (virtually) see you at the meeting.

Catch you on the flip side,

Emily Wells
Communications Chair
Editor, Memo To Members

Get Hyped for this Month’s Meeting!

Annual Employment Panel

Join the STC Florida Chapter on March 26, 2020 as we welcome a panel of hiring managers, recruiters, and professionals who interact with Technical Communicators on a daily basis.

6:15pm – New Member Orientation
6:30pm – Networking and Refreshments
7:00pm – Program begins

Come talk to a panel of experts about working in the Technical Communication field. Everyone is welcome! Ask questions from the experts on:
· Interviewing
· Resumes
· Career Advice
· Mentoring
· Work Samples/Portfolio and more…

Come prepared with your questions and hear stories from the ground floor of the hiring process. This panel will not only benefit early-career technical communicators, but those with experience as well. It’s always a good idea to sharpen your interviewing skills, you never know what the future holds.

Panelists’ views are their own and do not necessarily represent those of their employers.

We will be charging the following rates for this meeting:

-$6 for STC Orlando Central Florida Chapter Members (part of Society for Technical Communication membership, not membership of this meetup group)
-$12 for all other attendees

The same pricing applies for online attendees. Visit our Meeting Payments page for details on how to pay ahead for the meeting and receive the call details.

This year’s panelists include:

Patrick Green

Patrick Green is a Lockheed Martin (LM) Technical Publications Manager who works at the Rotary and Mission Systems (RMS) Training and Logistics Solutions (TLS) facility to provide high quality technical publications for the products developed at this site.  Patrick moved to Orlando in 2014 when he started as the Technical Publications Manager and now oversees a team of 14 writers who develop a variety of publications.  Prior to this he worked at the LM RMS facility in Syracuse, NY as a Logistics Project Manager where he was responsible for all logistics products for various ground-based radar systems. In addition to these two positions, Patrick has been a technical writer and customer trainer while at LM.  Patrick is also a retired Marine with over 21 years of service.  Patrick is a graduate from Columbia College and holds a BS in Business Administration and Human Resource Management.


Jack Molisani

Jack Molisani is the president of ProSpring Technical Staffing, an employment agency specializing in technical writers and other content professionals:

He’s the author of Be The Captain of Your Career: A New Approach to Career Planning and Advancement, which hit #5 on Amazon’s Career and Resume Best Seller list.

Jack also produces the LavaCon Conference on Content Strategy and Tech Comm Management which will be in Portland this October:

February Meeting Recap

Annual Future Technical Communicators (FTC)/STC Meeting: Recap and Takeaways from the FTC President

By: John Clement
Student Member

Florida Chapter, STC

Hey! My name is John Clement, and I am the current president of the (FTC) club at UCF. After undertaking the role at the beginning of this year, I was thrown straight in to organizing the club’s (rapidly-approaching) largest event of the year. It was a great learning experience I would not replace as it placed me in the position of asking myself what I would want from this meeting so I could help turn that into a reality for others.

On Thursday, February 20th, FTC joined with the Society for Technical Communicators (STC) Florida chapter for its annual joint meeting. This year, we reprised our Career Paths Presentation from the previous year but with new faces. Six professional technical communicators, attending either in-person or online, each gave a presentation on their occupations and answered questions from the audience. The range of disciplines and backgrounds the panelists came from was a boon to have as students were able to hear from both new and experienced technical communicators working within different disciplines. The panelists were:

  • Kelley MacEwen – Sr. Information Developer at Appian
  • Melissa Rios – Integrated Product Support Manager at L3 Harris Technologies
  • Delroy Thompson – User Assistance Designer at SumTotal Systems
  • Gail Hart – Marketing Communications Manager at Comprehensive Health Services
  • Tyler Dick and Madeline Park – Technical Communicators at Universal Studios

Each presenter gave a thorough presentation covering what they do now, how they got there, why they love it, and what helped them along the way. Each presenter also provided their contact information and the best places for students to reach out to them.

After the panelists concluded their career presentations, students asked questions such as how tech comm skills could be applied to other disciplines, thereby extending the discussion and giving everyone in the room additional and insightful information great to keep in mind as prospective technical communicators. On top of all that, students had the opportunity to network directly with the professionals after the event. For example, the panelists from Universal Studios had an internship position open and encouraged the students to talk to them about it to learn more and even apply.

This year’s Melissa Pellegrin Memorial Scholarship recipients were also recognized at the meeting: myself and Tamatha Hazen, who was not able to be present. In memory of Melissa, we in the room joined together in a moment of silence after I lit a candle in respect to her.

Speaking personally, it was very satisfying to see how the event turned out. The turnout put the room at full capacity; there were approximately 40 attendees, which was stunning. We had put a lot of work into advertising the event to students, but even then, our expectations were happily exceeded.

The fact that it could directly help others is all that matters. It is safe to say that each of the attendees came out having either learned something new, made a new contact, or became firmer in their understanding about the tech comm field. Organizing this event was an experience I would not change anything about as it developed me in numerous ways from leadership skills to task management to student outreach. I could not have done the least of it without the help of my FTC leadership team and those at STC who gave me the resources and information I needed to get the event off the ground. The positive results that arose from the event were the fruits of our labor. I am very excited for what I can continue to do in and through FTC moving forward.

Side note: As part of a project for my English class, I produced an infographic summarizing a few of the panelist’s presentations from this event. Check it out!

All the best,


From the Editor’s Desk

Emily Wells

Technical Communicators of Florida and Beyond,

Welcome to 2020! A new year, a new decade, and a new newsletter! Alright, a little over the top, but I’m excited for the new year and what it may bring. But first, let me bring you this month’s newsletter:

This month, we have our Future Technical Communicators (FTC)/STC annual meeting at the University of Central Florida (UCF). This year’s theme is Tech Comm Career Paths, focusing again on the many different career pathways available for a technical communicator. For more information, visit the RSVP page.

Next, last month, we shared more on the new graduate scholarship at UCF, inspired by our very own Mike Murray. This month, Bernard King shares about how our chapter helped give back to the community in other ways this past holiday season.

Speaking of Mike, this month he’s sharing some words of wisdom and encouragement as part of his Excellence column, helping kick off a new decade, and a new section in our chapter’s history.

Finally, we have not one, but two January meeting recaps (Lessons from New Tech Comm Professionals), both from first-time MtM writers! First James Yunik sets the stage, providing the 411 on the helpful advice and main topics covered by the panelists. Next, Connor Elfrink shares his take on his first chapter meeting (welcome Connor!), as well as some key takeaways.

That’s all from me for now. I hope to see you at the meeting.

Catch you on the flip side,

Emily Wells
Communications Chair
Editor, Memo To Members

Florida Chapter Gives Back to the Community

By: Bernard King
Student Member
Florida Chapter, STC

During the 2019 holiday season, the Florida Chapter donated more than $100 worth of gift cards and pantry items to the Harbor House of Central Florida. Harbor House is an organization that works to prevent and eliminate domestic abuse in Central Florida by providing critical life-saving services to survivors, as well as educating the community on navigating the justice system and utilizing resources to cope with the effects of domestic abuse. We’d like to take this moment to outline what it means to give back to your community and how your contributions can create a better world, as well as a better you.

It Makes Life Difficult for the Bad Guys

Harbor House is an organization dedicated to protecting domestic abuse survivors. When you contribute to organizations dedicated to protecting, you’re also providing abuse victims the resources to rebuild their lives. An organization with more resources to protect people makes it difficult for those who wish to prey on them. Organizations like Harbor House partner with law enforcement and child protective services for the purpose of preventing homicides and injuries.

Create a Legacy of Giving

When you contribute to a charitable organization, it makes a difference. Donations don’t necessarily have to be monetary. Harbor House accepts contributions in the forms of cleaning products, personal care items, and even pet food. Whether it be brightening someone’s day or saving a life, the effect will be felt throughout the community. More importantly, it may inspire someone else to do the same. The more you give, the more you inspire. And when you inspire, you cement a legacy that you and your loved ones can be proud of.

Misty Arner (right) dropping off the donations on behalf of the Florida Chapter.

It Looks Good on Paper

Doing volunteer work and contributing to non-profit organizations can help make you more marketable, especially when you are contributing in ways that are related to your chosen career or major. For example, contributing articles to volunteer organizations like STC can help to build your skillset and make your resume more appealing to potential employers. Being employed by an organization that wants to make the world a better place can be a great source of pride.

Regardless of your reasons to give back to your community, the overall benefits of doing so will always lead to positive results for both you, and the world around you.

Starting a Fire…

Excellence Column

By: Mike Murray
STC Fellow
Florida Chapter, STC

EDITOR’S NOTE: The original audience for this message was the STC Florida Chapter Administrative Council (AdCo). In it, the author, under whose leadership the chapter became one of STC’s most dynamic communities and accomplished so much over the past 2 decades, delivers some wisdom—and hopefully inspiration!—to the young leaders who are taking on a new and daunting challenge. It is republished here in Memo to Members as part of Mike’s column on Excellence.

Date: January _, 2020
To: STC Florida Administrative Council
From: Mike Murray
Re: A New Year’s Challenge

If you have spent any time as a Boy Scout or Girl Scout, you know how difficult it is to start a fire by rubbing two sticks together or by striking flint with a metal object. Like a fire, the hardest part about anything is just getting started. Once the fire gets started, it becomes easier to build and maintain it. That’s fine for a campfire, but what about things you can’t touch, things like a statewide STC chapter?

Foundation is #1!
In my three years as chapter president, I spent the entire first year solidifying the foundation. In the campfire analogy, that would mean finding some dry tinder and borrowing Joe’s cigarette lighter (I sure do miss Joe). In building a strong chapter, I approached people one at a time who I identified as having leadership skills and positioned them on the organization chart in places where I felt they could do the most good. That and some other things (e.g., finding a meeting place, establishing schedules, etc.) took my entire first year.

New World, Same Basics
Time went by and things changed — a lot, and yet, the basics remain. The first thing is always establishing a strong foundation. The current AdCo has done a wonderful job of establishing a strong foundation after identifying the correct foundation.

Here’s where things change. It’s one thing growing a chapter when all of your potential members are in a nearby metropolitan area, quite another when they are scattered out over an entire state. In the former example, all you need is a president with a big mouth and a place for meeting attendees to sit. I don’t have to tell you that that doesn’t work anymore. Things have become technology-driven and require sharp people who are familiar with the rapidly changing technology.

Thankfully, the Florida chapter has the best of the best, but even that is not enough. The other key ingredient to establish a successful virtual chapter is ”time.”

Time Takes Patience
 We would all love it if technical communicators statewide immediately recognized the value of participating in a virtual chapter, but that is going to take some convincing. Becoming comfortable with virtual technology is something that scares many people. In addition, many of the senior technical communicators are simply tired. They are not interested in learning yet another ”groundbreaking” technology. It will take time to convince them of the value they have been missing.

I can’t think of anybody in history who was more patient than Colonel Harlan Sanders, founder of Kentucky Fried Chicken. One thousand times he tried to convince restaurants and others of the value of using his chicken recipe. On his one thousand and first attempt, he was successful. Just imagine if he had gotten so disappointed that he quiet on his one-thousandth attempt. You never know if your next attempt will be the successful one.

Twelve publishers rejected J. K Rowling’s book about a boy wizard before a small London house picked up Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone.

Only those who dare to fail greatly can achieve greatly.                                                     —Robert F. Kennedy

My final advice to you is that you are doing an outstanding job—one that very few people would be brave enough to undertake. Just persevere and always remember Winston Churchill’s advice.

Never, never, never give up.
Winston Churchill, Battle of Britain, 1942

Churchill’s attitude may literally have saved the world at that time. Granted, saving STC may not be on the same level of gravity. But the fact remains, unless we move the Society into 21st-century technology, it is doomed.

You have created a spark. Let’s see what happens next.

January Meeting Recap

Lessons from New Tech Comm Professionals

By: James Yunik
Student Member

Florida Chapter, STC

As we begin this new year and decade, it is fitting that we turn our attention toward new beginnings in the world of technical communication. The January meeting of the Society for Technical Communication (STC) was held on Thursday the 23rd at Perkins in Winter Park, and hosted a panel of five new tech comm professionals with tips and perspectives on entering and excelling within the field.

Panel Members:

  • Winfield Pearson (employed by JHT Inc.)
  • Shawn Menard (employed by JHT Inc.)
  • Alexandra Engrand (employed by JHT Inc.)
  • Emily Wells (employed by Lockheed Martin)
  • Amy Truong (employed by JHT Inc.)

As a University of Central Florida (UCF) student and aspiring tech comm professional, here are the panelists’ points that stood out to me.

Job Hunting Strategies and Pointers
Expand your skillset and experience beyond writing. Augmenting your skillset with things like programming languages, desktop publishing software, or financial literacy gives you more to offer and—potentially—gives you the upper hand in a competitive market.

Don’t limit yourself to applying for jobs with “Technical Writer” in the job title! The skills you’ve developed in your education and life experience are useful in a variety of jobs and careers, especially in the wide field of technical communication. Read job descriptions and see where you might fit in.

Networking is an invaluable skill and habit that can help you jumpstart and maintain your career, especially when done in person. Joining professional groups (like STC!) and meeting with potential employers are great ways to learn about new opportunities and—just as importantly—make yourself known to those in the know.

Before meeting with a potential employer, read up on the organization as well as the role, and ask specific questions about both. Inquiring about nuances of the job, company culture, and policies shows that you are genuinely interested and invested in the opportunity. You’ll also learn more about possible directions for your life and career in the process. Also, don’t forget to follow-up on interviews with a thank you note or email!

Finally: don’t let rejection dampen your spirits. It’s literally impossible to win ‘em all.

The Benefits of Being New
For many companies, new professionals may represent much-needed change for their culture and knowledge base. Your status as a new recruit means you haven’t become rooted in outdated habits or modes of thinking, and it provides you with a license to learn. You can—and should—ask questions; doing so benefits both you and the company.

Tips on Starting Out
This may come as a surprise but as a technical writer, it is not unlikely that you won’t do much—or any—writing. Single-source publishing is gaining in popularity, so many companies are opting for programs like FrameMaker, Arbortext, and MadCap Flare. Consequently, knowledge of programming languages (like XML and HMTL) is increasingly valuable, and you may compile more documents than you compose.

Let go of the academic mentality of making a few revisions and forgetting your work once it’s graded. Within the professional world, the number of required revisions may be vastly greater and the revision timeline may be much longer!

Don’t be idle. Keep busy and write down everything you do in the course of your job. Records of your contributions are a valuable tool for self-advocacy. And since we’re on the topic…

It is crucially important that you advocate for yourself. Doing so not only means recording your contributions and keeping records of your communications, but also proactively representing your views and interests. It’s possible that others may advocate for you if you’re incredibly lucky, but luck is not a strategy. Don’t expect your future to fall into place; build it.

Top Takeaways From My First STC Meeting

By: Connor Elfrink
Florida Chapter, STC

Hi all! I’m Connor – current textbook editor and new member of the STC Florida Chapter. The January meeting featured a panel of young professionals who answered questions about their experience in the technical communications field. As a young professional myself, I found their tips super helpful – here are some of my favorites!

  1. Lessons you’d pass on to new tech writers:
  • Learn an additional skill (coding / HTML / etc).
  • Don’t stress if you haven’t mastered all skills. Mastery of one skill/software is evidence to employers you can master another
  1. Make a portfolio as you work: 
  • Keep track of/file your work as you go (for performance reviews, etc.). Doing this retroactively can be a daunting task!
  • Take 30 minutes each month to review/recap what you’ve done.
  • Keep copies of everything!
  1. Value of a portfolio:
  • Helps you to organize/prioritize what you value most about your work.
  • How to build a larger portfolio? (blogging!). Even if it’s writing about a random topic of interest, blogging shows your ability/commitment to writing.
  1. Does your employer support STC? 
  • They love it!”
  • Companies like when current employees are STC members. For one reason, this connects. employers to a larger pool of candidates to fill future job openings.

5. Recommendations for job search strategies/interviews?

  • Join STC! Networking helps push your resume through.
  • Be confident! Focus on / sell the skills you do have.
  • Apply for everything! Once you’re in the company, new positions can open up.
  • Research the company beforehand/mention specifics at the interview.

From the Editor’s Desk

Emily Wells

Technical Communicators of Florida and Beyond,

Welcome! It’s hard to believe that it’s already been another year. As we stand on the cusp of a new decade, I’m excited to bring you this month’s jam-packed and historic newsletter. 

To start, this month, we have our holiday reunion social! For more information, visit the RSVP page.

Next, last month, I had the honor of sharing with you the exciting news of a new graduate scholarship at the University of Central Florida (UCF), inspired by one of our amazing members, Mike Murray! This month, Karen Lane goes more in-depth on the scholarship and how you can help ensure this wonderful scholarship becomes permanently funded.

Speaking of Mike, today marks a historic moment for our chapter: the launch of our chapter history project, a 3-years-in-the-making project spearheaded by Mike. Read on as Mike and Dan Voss explain the enormous task undertaken by Mike and other members of our chapter to flesh out 43 years of our chapter’s history.

In addition, Mike and Dan also share the third installment in the Looking Back, Looking Forward column, this time focusing on communications strategy.

Next up, Amy Troung shares the exciting news about the successful 2019-2020 mentorship program kick-off meeting (this year marking 154 partnerships and counting)!

Finally, W.C. Wiese wraps up this month by recapping our November meeting/workshop focused on the Ethics of Intercultural Communication.

That’s all from me for now. I hope to see you at the social, and until next year…happy holidays!

Catch you on the flip side,

Emily Wells
Communications Chair
Editor, Memo To Members

A Special Holiday Appeal for a Very Special Cause

How You Can Help

By: Karen Lane
STC Fellow
Florida Chapter, STC

Mike Murray, STC Fellow and Florida Chapter Historian.

In last month’s newsletter, we told you about an exciting new initiative, inspired by STC Fellow and former chapter president Mike Murray: a self-perpetuating, permanently funded scholarship for the School of Communication Sciences and Disorders within the College of Health Professions and Sciences at the University of Central Florida.

Named the Mike Murray Make a Difference Scholarship, the fund will support graduate students in fields that are close to Mike’s heart. It is his fervent wish that his legacy will live on and that he will Make a Difference long past his lifetime.

Permanent funding for a scholarship is very simple and depends on only one thing: amassing enough money in the fund to start with so as to generate annual scholarships out of earnings instead of principal.

The founding donors got us partway there in November, but the scholarship fund will not be fully funded until it has reached $25,000. And that cannot happen without generous support from Mike’s colleagues and friends. He has helped so many over the decades of his career; now it’s time for us to help him achieve his lifelong goal.

Won’t you help by contributing as much as you can? The scholarship is part of the UCF Foundation, a 501(c)(3) entity, which means your donations are tax deductible to the extent permitted by law. Consult your financial advisor if tax deductibility applies to you. For many people, this is an added bonus to donating, but for others the true reward is the knowledge that you are helping to make a funded-for-now scholarship become a funded-forever scholarship.

Please give generously. Donations before the end of the year count for the current tax year, but donations at any time in any amount are most welcome.

Information on how to donate—it’s very easy and can be done online—can be found at the end of the article on the UCF website announcing the new scholarship and republished in the November Memo to Members.

For those who have already read the article launching the scholarship, here’s what you need to know to make a holiday donation to help make the fund a permanent legacy to Mike’s lifelong outreach to others.

Fundraising Announcement from UCF

A fundraising effort is currently underway to endow the Fund in perpetuity by December 31, 2019. It is currently 60 percent of the way to the threshold for endowment.

Contributions to the Mike Murray Make a Difference Scholarship Fund can be made via check to the UCF Foundation at 12424 Research Parkway, Orlando, FL 32826, or by credit card at

The UCF Foundation is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.