STC—Lifeline to Your Career
by Stephanie Donovan, Freelance Writer
When I was a young and budding technical writer, I stumbled upon a group called STC and discovered it to be a most worthwhile finding.
Just out of college, I had switched my career from journalism and was working as an assistant technical writer in Austin. A friend of mine was the hospitality chairperson at the meetings, and I thought that greeting people at the door each month would give this formerly shy girl a reason to be more outgoing with people.
What I discovered was so much more than I ever expected. As it turns out, STC was an invaluable resource to my professional career as a new writer. Here was a group of peers that I could learn from and network with to keep up on the market, the latest trends, and the best places to work.
My work in STC helped to “beef up” my resume while I was just getting started and had very little experience in the workplace. When I mentioned my STC involvement in interviews, interviewers took notice instead of just thinking I was another “newbie” to the field! The organization’s reputation elevated me above the pack.
As the years went by, STC was always a part of my career. I served as secretary of the Austin chapter. My contacts helped me transition to the Lone Star chapter and find a good job when my husband took a position in Dallas. There I remained active in STC for several years, again finding good job contacts and building a solid network of peers in a new city.
Today my life has totally changed again. After working as a lead writer for several years, I embarked upon a totally new challenge unlike any I had taken on before—parenthood!
After deciding to stay home with my son for several years, I had a lot of fears about walking away from my high-tech career. As a proudly professed workaholic who loved the fastpace chaos of a software company, I knew it would be a big adjustment.
Things change so quickly in our field; would my skills become outdated? Would I still be marketable in five years when I was ready to jump back into the workforce? How would I bridge that gap on my resume and find employment later on?
Then I made one of the best choices I could have made during this difficult transition. I chose to stay connected to STC. Many of my peers wondered why I wasn’t taking a break when I was not even working. Instead, I served as secretary of the Lone Star chapter and continued to be involved after I had my son.
Then another rough transition—my husband was offered a position in Houston, and we moved again. I would have to rebuild those contacts again in a city where I had never even worked while I was staying at home.
The thought seemed so daunting. How could I get my name around and network if I had not worked in Houston at all?
Once again the answer was STC. I attended the STC Houston new member lunch and was again amazed by STC members’ eagerness to network with new faces. I spoke to writers of varying backgrounds and learned about the job market in Houston.
I later attended the chapter transition meeting and the president, George Slaughter, hit me up to work with the Communications Committee. There was a need for someone to write PR releases, to get the word out about our great organization.
It couldn’t have been a better fit! I could use my journalism background and stay in touch with technical writing while I was at home!
Now I’m in my second term as external publicity coordinator. I am still at home with my son, who is now three years old.
Through STC I have learned about several job opportunities—some of which became part-time contracts that I have done from home to keep my skills up. I’ve used STC employment resources to get my name back out there to find other contracts that I can do from home.
At a time when I thought I’d be totally focused on the ABCs and potty training, I have found that my relationship with STC remains extremely invaluable. It is a primary lifeline to a career that I have put on hold to focus on family.
Over the years I have learned that giving just a small portion of my time to STC comes back to me in more positive ways than I could have ever imagined.
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Copyright © 2002 Houston Chapter,
Society for Technical Communication
P.O. Box 42051, Houston, TX 77242-2051 | 713-706-3434