Written by Julia Southwick and edited by John Clement
As you likely already know from your own job searching or from friends, being a job seeker is hard. It takes a while to find jobs that interest you; it takes even longer to find those that you can even apply to and fit the criteria for. You submit application after application, inputting the same information as in your attached resume, and you patiently wait to hear back from each company. Rarely do you hear a “yes.” Mostly, you don’t hear back at all and actually celebrate briefly, and sadly, when you hear a “no.” It’s discouraging and can be depressing to work on finding a job for so long and not get one. So, what are you to do? You could network on LinkedIn, connecting with people you’ve met before or who have been introduced to you by someone in your network. Sometimes that is enough to get you an interview and potentially a job, but not often. How else can you network? One great way is by going to professional events and meeting people in your field—like our monthly chapter meetings at STC Florida.
Before each event, we have a half-hour of networking and catching up with each other. We can use this time to mention what we are doing at work, what problems we encountered while working, how to solve those problems, who’s looking for a job, whose company is looking to fill a job position, what the chapter needs volunteers for (like writing articles or meeting recaps), and more. During this time, you may find someone who can pass your resume along to the right person or meet your future mentor. This is just one way we enjoy networking in our chapter; whether it be attending meetings, participating in mentorship, or volunteering for the chapter, networking provides you and everyone in STC a safe space to learn from each others’ successes, mistakes, and experiences so you can succeed in your own professional life. These networking sessions sometimes become their own events and increase the feeling of community we share in STC.
Part of our community includes the students at UCF’s Future Technical Communicators club (FTC), which brings our student members to our chapter and mentees to our mentoring program. You may have heard how much help a mentor can provide in a job search, and it’s true. For some, having a mentor is the reason they were able to get a job—even their dream job. From where to search, what to search, and how to search all the way to interview tips and help once you get the job, mentors can help with it all. Mentors can also help you to learn skills and techniques you didn’t encounter in class while improving on the foundation set by your professors. In doing so, you get the opportunity to teach your mentor what you’ve learned inside and beyond the classroom that they themselves may not have known. During your mentorship experience, you will have opportunities to improve and increase your portfolio through volunteering, which can be beneficial when looking for a job.
There are many different ways to volunteer at STC Florida. One great way is by writing articles. Articles could be short summaries of the most recent meeting, shoutouts to fellow technical writers through our Membership Spotlights, a topic about science or technology and communication that interests you, and anything else relating to the field of technical communication. Other ways to volunteer with the chapter include joining a committee or joining the Administrative Council (AdCo). All of these opportunities look great in portfolios and are a great way to showcase what you can do for a potential employer during an interview. Speaking of interviews, having STC on your resume makes you look impressive and helps you stand out amongst the large pools of other applicants you will be stacked against.
Once you have a job, you might think you don’t need STC anymore. But is that true? You probably know what you’d gain back from leaving, but what would you be losing? All of the friends, connections, volunteering opportunities, and the community. Your connections would be more spread out and require more effort to maintain. Let’s say you’re job searching again or need a reference for a job. When you network during and between STC meetings, it’s made easier. However, without that support system, it’s likely that you would have to put a lot more time and effort into maintaining and checking in with your connections. Additionally, without mentorship, you’d lose the opportunity to learn from those who’ve been in the industry for a long time and to teach them in kind. A consistent and helpful part of your work and life could be your STC community if you choose to stay. You’d have a safe place to bring work problems or ask general industry questions. It would be easier to network with other tech comm professionals. Our chapter would not only help you find, and keep, a job, but it can also help you help others find a job by sharing what openings your company has. You’d get consistent volunteering opportunities to choose from at your leisure. Additionally, if you’re a life-long learner, our meetings are a great place to learn new tips, tricks, and information. You could keep all of the above if you renew your membership. We’re always ready to share our many benefits and opportunities with you, and you’re always more than welcome to join and enjoy your stay in our community.
Editor’s note: This article is being released as a student’s/recient graduate’s perspective rather than an established professional’s perspective as seen in W.C.’s article “Five Great Reasons to Continue in STC.” If you missed W.C.’s article, you can read it here:http://memotomembers.stc-orlando.org/?p=4201!