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The STC 56th Annual Conference
Published
2009, Q2 (July 21, 2009)
By Nicole Black, North Carolina State University Chapter President

Nicole Black
Nicole Black
As the incoming North Carolina State University Chapter President of STC, I was granted a $1,000 scholarship from the Carolina Chapter to attend the 56th annual conference held in Atlanta this year from May 3-6. I want to express my gratitude to the Carolina Chapter for extending this opportunity to me. It was my first time attending the conference, and I hope to attend next year.

Like many businesses and organizations, STC has found itself struggling through the recent economic downturn. There were not as many sessions offered as usual and attendance was down from previous years as a result of members’ limited funds. However, this did not put a damper on the positive atmosphere of the conference. Instead, those in attendance addressed the effects the state of the economy is having on technical communicators and how STC can help those most effected get through this tough time.

Those in attendance addressed the effects the state of the economy is having on technical communicators and how STC can help those most effected get through this tough time.
Leadership Day focused on how STC exists solely for the benefit of its members. This is an important idea for me to keep in mind as a new STC chapter president, particularly the president of a student chapter. I feel it is my duty to convey the benefits of STC to current and prospective members. There are several benefits to membership in STC that are not always recognized. Now more than ever, it is important that members understand what these benefits are so they can have an edge on the competition, something that is always on the minds of students as well as professionals.

A new track at the conference this year was the Career Makeover Institute. This tract was added for those who are in transitional phases of their careers. The track included sessions about how to find a job using STC resources, the top 10 mistakes writers make when looking for work, résumé secrets that might surprise you, portfolios and interview strategies, and how to find jobs during a recession. The sessions were not only useful for those who might have been laid off or are looking for a new job, but also for those who are about to enter the job market for the first time as technical communicators. Three of the sessions were hosted by Jack Molisani of Prospring Technical Staffing and The LavaCon Conference. As someone who works as a mediator between employers and those looking for work, he had an interesting insight and different ideas for jobseekers who often feel like they are hearing redundant information when looking for a job.

Other tracks in the conference included: Designing and Developing Content; Developing Your Skills and Promoting Your Profession; E-Learning Institute; Producing, Managing, and Delivering Content; Structured Authoring and Content Management Institute; User Experience Institute, Designing and Assessing the User Experience; Managing People, Projects, and Business; Applying Research and Theory to Practice; and Collaborative Technologies and Techniques Institute. With such a broad range of subjects being covered at the conference, I was pleased to find out that I did not have to miss a single session. STC has decided to offer most of the sessions online through SUMMIT@aClick. Every session that was being recorded was marked in the program so that everyone could plan their schedule accordingly. Conference attendees will have access to all of the online sessions, but those that did not attend the conference can also access these sessions for a fee. Over 100 sessions were recorded.

Though many of the sessions will be online, it still does not replace the value of actually attending the conference. The conference creates many networking opportunities through the sessions, organized meals, the expo, and social events, some of which were not on the calendar, but were passed around by word of mouth, or, even more fitting for technical communicators, through Twitter or a blog. As most of the attendees usually stay where the conference is being held, it is also common to run into people during your downtime in the lobby or on the street. I met Intercom Editor Elizabeth E. Pohland and Technical Communication Editor-in-Chief Menno De Jong while resting in a plush chair at the expo. You never know who you will end up sitting beside.

This year, STC offered to pay the conference fees for students who volunteered at the summit. Two of our NCSU Chapter officers presented at this year’s summit as well, which also covers fees. Once again, I am very grateful for having been given the opportunity to attend this year’s conference. Both NCSU and Carolina are award-winning chapters of STC, and I am proud to be a part of them. I look forward to a new semester of working with its officers and members.

Nicole can be reached at snblack at ncsu dot edu. End of article.


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