By Nancy J. Lopez
My Introduction to Tech Comm
I was introduced to the world of tech comm halfway through my bachelor’s program at the University of Central Florida (UCF). I was pursuing a degree in English and Literature, intent on becoming a teacher or an editor and living the life of your typical book-loving hobbit. I took a class called Literature of Science and Technology with Dr. JD Applen, and we delved into the philosophy behind the works of Don DeLillo, Robert Pirsig, and Ted Chiang. Here I learned the value of the word concise–my professor’s favorite word, I surmised, based on how often he used it–and how it is the defining principle of all good literature, both fiction and nonfiction. This lesson gave me a new perspective on the written word, and my own writing improved significantly. My professor encouraged me to join Future Technical Communicators (FTC) and learn more about pursuing a career in technical writing. I was starting my senior year at UCF when I joined FTC, a little late to the game, but a decision that has forever changed the course of my life.
The Value of Mentorship
Shortly after joining FTC, I also joined STC as a student member. I had a lot of catching up to do if I wanted to become a technical writer, and between both groups, there was no shortage of knowledge or encouragement. I was soaking it all in and realized I needed a guide through this strange and seemingly magical landscape, and I’m not talking about the pointy-hat-and-wooden-staff type. I met Jessica Nealon through STC’s Mentorship Program, and the world of tech comm started to make sense. She gave me sage advice about navigating the tech writing job market, helped me perfect my resume, and encouraged me to keep honing my skills. In the spirit of mentorship, we started a study group together to help other STC members develop their skills and pursue CPTC certification (I’m going to take this moment to insert a shameless plug for Certified Study Buddies). I will always advocate that mentorship is essential to instill the values and skills of our profession in the next generation and encourage each other in the field, just as iron sharpens iron.
A New Chapter
I have STC and my mentor Jessica to thank for helping me land my first position as a technical writer with GP Strategies. I’m learning more about tech comm every day, and I get to work with industry leaders like Lockheed Martin and Electric Boat. I also get to make a meaningful, philanthropic impact working with financial institutes to create accessible training content for their employees with disabilities. My day-to-day is an amalgam of subject matters, clients, challenges, and goals. I don’t know where the future might take me, but for now, I’m soaking up everything, gaining both experience and exposure to the wide world of tech comm. As a famous hobbit once said, “I’m going on an adventure.”