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President's Message: The $250 Question
2013, Q3 (October 03, 2013)
By Sheila Loring, Chapter President
Sheila Loring
Sheila Loring

STC membership has declined over the years. Yearly membership fees sharply increased several years ago, and fewer employers pay for membership in professional organizations.

Free time is also precious. Chapter activities compete against spending time with family and friends, enjoying hobbies, and watching The Big Bang Theory (even the reruns).

Folks question the yearly membership fees. “What do I get for $250 a year? Webinars that I have to pay for and two magazines.”

I completely empathize with this response. If your employer doesn’t pay for membership or you’re between jobs, justifying the expense can be especially challenging.

In this article, I’m sharing some of the most rewarding aspects of chapter membership, which you can also enjoy as a member.

Tribe Membership

In short, spending time with technical writers is fun.

We face some of the same issues at work. Conversations about the glory of semicolons or disdain for excess commas are not unheard of. And where else can you commiserate or get advice about DITA conversions? Mailing lists and online forums provide an outlet, but I would rather interact in person.

At first, introducing myself to strangers and speaking in meetings triggered a high degree of anxiety. As a seasoned introvert, I found it easier to observe. However, socializing became easier after I got to know chapter members. They’re friendly, funny, generous folks. Observing still feels easier, but interacting is more rewarding.
Observing still feels easier, but interacting is more rewarding.

Access to Job Opportunities

As you get to know chapter members and expand your network, you’ll hear about job openings in meetings and through email. This inside scoop increases your chance of getting an interview. With a healthy network, it’s easier to spread the word when you’re looking for a new job. Many of us can thank chapter members for their help with finding that new job.

Opportunities to Expand Skills

There’s no shortage of volunteer opportunities, which often translate into new skills. As newsletter production editor, I learned how to create a newsletter in both Adobe InDesign (for the PDF version) and in the current wiki. Then as the newsletter’s managing editor, I learned how to approach potential authors and create a newsletter every quarter.

Now, I’m taking on a new project at work – newsletter editor of the division’s technical newsletter. Without the chapter newsletter experience, I might not have volunteered for the work project.


Other members might not share these experiences or value intangible benefits such as tribe membership with technical writers. I only want to offer a few reasons to join the STC and get involved in chapter activities. Don’t hesitate to contact me with feedback.

Do you want to know more about STC membership?

Sheila can be reached at president at stc-carolina dot org. End of article.

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