Search icon Looking for something?

Top Ten Reasons Why You Should Judge the STC Competition
October 26, 2017
Print Comments
By Catherine Sprankle, Chapter Member, Treasurer, STC Carolina Chapter

Image description

One of the most important events in STC Carolina Chapter’s year is our competition. Technical communicators from SAS, RTI, and other companies submit their documents for judging by their tech comm peers. This year’s competition is coming up and we need you to join in the judging!

The combination of learning, camaraderie, and service adds up to a unique experience that you’ll want to do every year!

“No, not me, I’m not qualified to do that!” you might be thinking. But you are! Here’s why it’s worth your while to spend a few hours next month as a competition judge:

  1. Get a great networking opportunity: As a judge, you’ll spend a few hours the morning of Saturday, Nov. 4, in training with other volunteer judges. You’ll have a chance to meet other chapter members in a relaxed, informal setting. Then over the next few weeks, you’ll spend a few more hours working with your team to judge the documents. You’ll get to know your other team members pretty well and will come away with some valuable professional contacts.
  2. Gain experience giving constructive feedback: Your training will include tips on giving feedback that will be useful and respectful to each document’s author. You’ll learn how to find things to praise and point out major and minor flaws in a helpful, constructive way. The skills you learn will help you in future professional and even personal interactions.
  3. Practice evaluating a document to a specific standard: At training, you’ll be given a set of very specific standards against which to evaluate your document. You’ll take what you learn from evaluating your documents back to your job or school projects, and find yourself looking at those projects with a new level of expertise.
  4. Provide valuable feedback to your peers: Everyone values knowledgeable, objective feedback on their work, and an STC competition is one of the few opportunities to get that expert feedback. A document with many suggestions for improvement may give its author the justification they need for more time and resources for their projects. A document that merits a “Distinguished” classification will gain its author some well-deserved recognition.
  5. Get out of your tech comm rut: You may be asked to judge one or more documents that are either outside your area of technical expertise or presented in a different medium than you’re used to working in. This might give you a chance to use some knowledge and skills that have gotten rusty, or you might surprise yourself at how much you can apply what you know from your current area in an area you’re less familiar with.
  6. Sharpen your user experience skills: As technical communicators, we should always be asking ourselves how well each document serves the user’s needs. Judging a document gives you an opportunity to explore that question in depth in a specific context, and may help you see your own documents more easily from the user’s perspective.
  7. Share your knowledge: We’re all experts on something, but sometimes we forget how valuable our body of knowledge is. You will likely have some work experience or have recently learned something from class that will help your team better evaluate one of your documents. And you’ll probably learn something new from your team members as well!
  8. Work on a team project: Each team is required to come to a consensus decision about the award level merited by each document they are judging. You’ll have to make this decision for yourself and be prepared to explain the rationale for that decision to your team members. If they disagree, you’ll have to consider whether their position has merit or if you want to advocate more strongly for your own position. It’s great practice for the give-and-take experienced in every workplace.
  9. Support your chapter: The competition is an important event for the chapter. It invites interaction with writers from outside the chapter who submit their documents for judging, and provides an interaction opportunity and a learning experience for chapter members who serve as judges. But the event can’t happen without members to step up and volunteer.
  10. Have a great experience: The combination of learning, camaraderie, and service adds up to a unique experience that you’ll want to do every year!

Whether you’re a student, in your first tech comm job, or a career veteran, you have something to contribute and something to learn from being an STC competition judge. So come join us in November!

Catherine Sprankle can be reached at {EMAIL}cssprankle@yahoo.com{EMAIL}. Read more articles by Catherine Sprankle. End of article.

More articles like this...
Comments powered by Disqus.