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Publications > Dateline Houston > January 2003 > Chapter News

Volume 42, Issue 5

January 2003

Chapter News

2003 Competition Awards Banquet

February 7, 2003

Join us for a chance to network with your friends and colleagues and exchange technical communication ideas at the 2003 STC Houston Awards Banquet, as well as see the winning entries from the competitions.

Learning from the experiences of your colleagues will help you Master Knowledge for Success in 2003.

The festivities begin at 6:30 p.m. with a viewing of the winning entries, followed by the banquet and awards at 7:30 p.m., and after-banquet viewing at 9 p.m. It all takes place at the Hilton Houston Westchase & Towers at 9999 Westheimer Road (at Briarpark between S. Gessner and Beltway 8) on Friday, February 7.

Look for your invitation in the mail. Or if you want to ensure that you have the latest information, go to the STC Houston web page at

Photos from the Employment STK Session

January 11, 2003

January Program Meeting Highlights
Career Growth and Development Progression

Our progression gave people the opportunity to listen to three different topics during the meeting. Each speaker was seated at a different table in the room, and when one session ended, people moved to the next one.

Bring a Friend!

Because we wanted to reach out to the technical communication community, the January meeting was free to members who brought a guest who was not a member. Non-member guests also received free admission when they left their name, street address, e-mail address, telephone number, and employer name. For members who did not bring a guest, normal fees applied.

The following topics were presented:

How to Write a Dynamite Resume by Joan Bolmer

Writing your own resume is one of the toughest writing jobs you will ever have! In today's talent-flooded market, a resume gets between 10 and 20 seconds of review before it is read or discarded. Many resumes are sorted and selected by computer on the basis of key words before reaching human eyes. Therefore, it is critical that the first few sentences on your resume grab and hold the readers attention and that the key words used throughout the resume are specifically targeted.

Joan Bolmer, business and career coach has, for the last two years, been a part-time consultant for Thompson-DBM, one of the three largest international outplacement firms in the world. Joan is an expert on the latest techniques in resume writing, job search, and interviewing. She led an interactive session, sharing with participants the structure and dynamics of resumes that are read and acted upon.

Independent Contracting: Another Option for Career Growth by Ryan Bernard and Melanie G. Flanders

Many people dream about being their own boss, but few have tried to turn that dream into reality. This is your opportunity to hear from two people who have. Ryan Bernard and Melanie G. Flanders taught the ins, outs, ups, and downs of independent contracting. People learned how to get started, how to weather the hard times, and what makes independent contractors tick.

Ryan Bernard is president of Wordmark Associates Inc. with over 25 years experience as an independent contractor, book author, and consultant to some of the top names in the Fortune 500.

Melanie G. Flanders is chief information architect with KnowledgeMasters, Inc., a firm that provides information design, development, consulting, and training services. Ms. Flanders has more than 25 years of experience in technical communication, seven as an independent contractor and consultant.

Marketing Yourself by Having an Expert Reputation by Cathy Stucker

Everyone wants to work with the expert, and you can be that expert. You have a unique set of skills and experience that give you expertise no one else has. Cathy Stucker will show you how you can gain the respect of others in your industry by generating publicity, writing articles, speaking, teaching, and taking other reputation-building actions. Then you will learn how to use the prestige of your expert status to get the job you've always wanted, start and grow your own business, and discover new opportunities.

Cathy Stucker,, helps entrepreneurs, authors, and professionals attract customers and become famous. She is a published author, speaker, and seminar leader. Her articles appear on major web sites and in national publications. Ms. Stucker has appeared on Houston television programs and on radio shows from coast to coast. She has been featured in the Houston Chronicle, Houston Business Journal, Black Enterprise, and Woman's Day.

Nonmanagement Career Path for Technical Communicators by Deborah Silvi, Susan Stotzer, and Jamie West

Writing groups are challenged to find ways to attract and retain high-quality writers. After several years writing for a particular company, the job can become boring and stale. If writers are not interested in management, they may feel as if they are trapped in a dead-end job. To further their careers and keep the job interesting, they might move into development, usability, or QA. Or they might move on to another company. Either way, the result is the same--the writing group loses a talented writer. This presentation discusses a solution—a technical career path. This presentation outlined the benefits of a technical career path and provided suggestions for proposing the idea to management and implementing this program.

Deborah Silvi is an information development manager at BMC Software, where she established a documentation consistency group for a number of related products. Deborah has been a technical communicator for over 20 years and has served in a number of roles, including managing programmers and writers, coordinating product releases, writing manuals and training materials, and developing online help. She is a past president of STC Houston and an Associate Fellow.

Susan Stotzer is an information development specialist at BMC Software, where she specializes in HTML-based help development. Susan also develops training information, procedural documentation, templates, and style sheets for other BMC Software writers. She has worked as a technical writer for nine years and is a senior member of STC. She has a degree in technical communication from Texas Tech University, where she was the secretary of the STC student chapter. Her honors include an STC regional technical publications competition award.

Jamie West is a lead information developer at BMC Software. Jamie has been writing technical documentation for nine years with emphasis in online help development. She has a master's degree in technical communication from Texas Tech University, where she was president of the STC student chapter. She is a senior member of STC. Her honors include regional and international technical publications competition awards.

What Software Companies Look For by Paul Mueller

The NetIQ interview process involves multiple stages with various skills being evaluated during each stage. During this session, we walked through the interview process and discuss the skills examined during each phase. We also discussed how the NetIQ environment affects the candidate requirements and how other software development environments may have slightly different requirements. This session provided valuable information for both job candidates and those responsible for their company's interview process.

Paul is a senior information development manager for NetIQ Corporation, which develops e-business management software for corporate networks and applications. He received a B.S. in computer science and a B.S. in mathematics from Pennsylvania State University and has been involved in technical communication for more than 15 years. His past notable projects include the initial help system prototype for IBM OS/2, the RISC System/6000 online library, and embedded help solutions for NetIQ's products.

Portfolio Development—Show Your Stuff by Connie Davis and Everett Puckett

Connie and Everett spoke about the do's and don'ts of presenting your best work to prospective employers and clients. They presented a sample portfolio.

Connie and Everett work with Kitba Consulting Services, L.P.

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