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President's Message
2001, September (June 20, 2007)

Vision Day spurs new initiatives

Yields good ideas for programs, mentoring, and balance

by Michael Harvey

We had a productive Vision Day on August 9! After pizza and socializing, we broke up into small groups to brainstorm about three areas where the STC Carolina Chapter could make a difference to its members: programs, mentoring, and work/STC/life balance. Tackling their assigned issue for 30 minutes, each group jotted notes on a flip chart, and then reported back to the meeting.

The first group asked themselves what kinds of programs would appeal to a broader cross-section of technical writing professionals. Variety appeared to be the key: a variety of topics in a variety of formats.

Suggested topics

  • Translation
  • Usability
  • PDFs and online markups
  • Online reviews
  • Comparison of applications: for example, what type of technical writing assignment is best handled with MS Word, and what type is best handled with FrameMaker? What are the relative merits of each?
  • Graphics

  • Workshops: for example, getting hands-on experience with a tool and seeing how it can be applied to a real-world problem
  • Testimonials
  • Roundtables
  • Lectures
  • Role Playing: for example, I’m interviewing for a job; what am I likely to encounter?

The second group explored mentoring. How can we better counsel lessexperienced members, and each other? It was agreed that any mentoring program must make it easy to ask for a mentor and easy to volunteer to be a mentor. The committee could delve into the mechanisms to make pools of mentors easy to access and could provide clear guidelines for mentoring relationships.

And finally, there was the question of balance. How can we make volunteering for STC activities more appealing? How can we make it easier to volunteer? Here, the solution appeared to be breaking work into manageable chunks. When chapter leaders solicit for volunteers, they need to be as explicit as possible about what is required, in terms of tasks to be performed and time required. Tasks should be as compartmentalized as possible, giving prospective volunteers a lot of latitude in how much to take on. When volunteering, members have to remember not to overextend themselves. For example, one person in the group, who’s very active in STC, might not want to do STC related activities two days in a row.

Meredith Blackwelder, our Programs Manager, is eager to use the programs feedback to plan meetings later in the year. Anyone interested in forming a mentoring committee should contact Emily Toone, our Immediate Past President, at etoone@t-p-s.com. Kay Ethier, our Vice President, will meet with the SIG managers to convey Vision Day ideas and to investigate how to turn them into actions. I’ll keep you posted on the progress we make in all of these areas throughout the year. End of article.

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