As a favor to an old friend, I spoke to one of their friend’s kids who got laid off and was forced to go into contract IT work so they could keep paying the bills.
Here is one question and answer that stuck out from our phone call:
Them: What do you find true about contracting?
Me: The very people who will criticize you for the tiniest mistake will be the same people who take credit for your successes and good ideas after your contract gig ends.
Unfortunately, depending on the organization, it happens to full-time employees too.
I was once asked in a job interview: “Why do I stay a technical writer when it must be such a dull and boring profession?” After the meeting when I was peeling rubber out of the parking lot, I took a few moments when I was decelerating to think about some of the more interesting moments (at least to me) from my career:
Much of my technical writing career has been spent working in the trenches directly with technical teams. Unfortunately, this means I don’t know any junior technical writers anymore.
I’ve seen a lot in my time as a technical writer, and if I did advise new or junior technical writers, it would be the following:
When I was in college, I took an on-campus job in my college’s computer lab that I still consider to this day to be a very formative experience. The director of the computer lab helped me discover the technology chops that I still carry me to this day. He had a penchant for scouting student employees from non-technical and liberal arts areas of study like English, Education, and Psychology. He is one of the only people in my academic and professional past I call a mentor. When I found a home working with technology, I gave up my goal of becoming a journalist for becoming a technical writer. College was tough because of my dyslexia, but my job in the computer lab charted a new course for me that I am still following today.
I was a computer book technical reviewer earlier in my career. It was a freelance gig, but I still consider the work one of the more formative chapters in my professional writing career even though it wasn’t writing work.
Computer book technical reviewers sometimes called technical editors are responsible for ensuring the technical accuracy of information technology book manuscripts. The work taught me to pay attention to technical details, which in turn went on to influence my work as a technical writer and freelance writer.
The lessons I learned include: