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Reflections after my first year as a technical writer... The adventure continues
2002, Q1 (June 29, 2007)
by David King, Carolina Chapter Hospitality Coordinator

By all accounts, finding the right company to work for is like finding the right person to marry. You must be thorough in your search. You must know yourself and know what you are looking for and be able to communicate information about both. You must also be in the right place at the right time. Fate will also play a big part in finding your first job as a technical writer. And you must be ready.

Fundamentally, the reason I was hired by my present company was because we were a good match. The persons with whom I interviewed liked my portfolio and they appreciated what I was looking for. The Professional Writing Certificate that I had obtained at NC State had provided several excellent portfolio pieces that matched the type of work that I would be doing for this company. Frankly, I’d say that it got me the job, although my B.A. in English was also an important factor.

Courtship first

Before we “tied the knot,” my company and I “courted” for several weeks. As an office assistant working for Robert Half and Associates (a Durham-based temporary agency), I seized this opportunity to introduce myself and get acquainted with persons who would be responsible for hiring me to a full-time position. This strategy worked.

Never assume

On the job, I learned the hard way to never make assumptions about my new employer. Always ask them how they want something done. And err on the side of excellence. It is just as important for internal documentation to look as nice as the documentation going outside.

Relax, stay flexible

Because the corporate environment is always changing, priorities and workloads will shift as personnel and resources become available and innovations take place. Go with the flow. I’ve made it very easy on myself this year by just listening to managers.

This job is fun

I never expected this job would be so much fun. There are a lot of young people working for my company. There are also those who have been on the job longer and who have taught me to move around. Diversity in culture, experience and age are all hallmarks of the company that I work for. That’s exactly what I wanted and communicated in my job interview. All of the stereotypes that I had ever heard of about “stiff corporate atmospheres” were shattered. I have witnessed senior-level managers working side-by-side with hourly workers. This has been one of the most dynamic, fluid, and stimulating places that I have ever worked. I feel honored to be here.

David King is a technical writer for Analytical Sciences, Inc., a medium-sized contract research organization (CRO) in Durham. End of article.

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