After the Summit: Was It All I Expected As a First-Timer?

by Danielle Villegas on 16 May 2013

Danielle Villegas, also known as TechCommGeekMom, is attending the STC Summit for the first time this year, so we’ve asked her to blog about her experiences at the Summit. This is the last post of her series.

It’s been a few days now since I returned home from the 2013 STC Summit. I survived airport security, and even a fall at home that temporarily landed me in the hospital fifteen minutes after I walked in the door of my house (don’t worry, I’m okay now), and lived to tell about it.

I thought I’d look back at my initial pre-conference posts and see if some of my fears or concerns came to fruition.

In A First-Timer’s Summit: Why the STC Summit Now? and A First-Timer’s Summit: Speed Dating and Pick-up Lines at the Summit? What?, I discussed my need to connect and network with other technical communicators. Networking was strongly encouraged at the Summit, allowing the ambiance of the Summit to be highly conducive towards this goal. Hannah Morgan’s recommendations came in very handy for me, especially socializing through social media first. I did follow the “fake it ’til you make it” mantra, because I knew that once the ice was broken, I’d be fine. I’m sure many who met me thought I was definitely not an introvert, because I would talk excessively! Ha ha! I also have to thank my buddies from the STC Philly Metro Chapter, vendor reps I knew, and several STC officials I knew, who’d stop me a few times during the Summit to make sure I was doing okay. There is no question that new tech comm friendships were created and established friendships reinforced.

In A First-Timer’s Summit: Are There Fire Breathers and Sword Fights at the Summit? and A First Timer’s Summit: It’ll be “Gone With The Wind” Fabulous!, I tried to figure out how my free time would be spent between the education sessions. Through pre-conference networking, I went to the World Of Coca-Cola with another attendee, went to the Juke Joint for lunch another day with two other attendees I had met on the spot, attended the STC 60th Anniversary Party which I initially hadn’t intended on attending (but glad I did), and did a solo trip into midtown to see a documentary filmmaker that I like speak. There was plenty to do, for sure.

In A First-Timer’s Summit: A Road Not Taken, I had questioned the idea of using tracks for deciding the education sessions during the STC Summit. My current job is heavily based on content strategy and publishing, so I did take a lot of education sessions that centered around that topic. However, I also took sessions in the topics of accessibility, social media, e-learning, and editing.  So, I followed a track to a point, but also allowed myself to open up to other topics that matched my interests. If nothing else, what I liked about the sessions were that they reinforced my philosophies and thoughts about tech comm topics, allowing me to know that I’m correct in my way of thinking.

In A First-Timer’s Summit: Packing Heat—Where’s Rick Steves When You Need Him?,  I felt the heat in trying to decide what to bring to the Summit, and felt like I needed the wisdom of travel writer Rick Steves to help me to pack. I found that I had actually over-packed! My iPhone and iPad with my wireless keyboard generally met my needs for taking notes and social media. The only downside that I experienced was that I didn’t know the STC wifi password until the last day; that wasn’t well publicized. The other issue was that the power outlets in the hotel were not very strong to recharge my devices efficiently, even when I would recharge them in my room overnight. Otherwise, I had everything I needed.

In the end, I am I glad that I went to the 2013 STC Summit. It was better than I expected because the atmosphere was casual and inviting. I liked every person I met, and felt the education sessions fit my needs. There was a lot to absorb, but at no time did it ever feel overwhelming. Do I want to go to the 2014 STC Summit in Phoenix? You betcha! Would I recommend the Summit to other technical communicators? Definitely. There is something for everyone in the field here, and the people at the conference are warm and welcoming—and just plain fun! You would feel included and in the right place at the right time.

This is my last blog post for this series. I hope you’ve enjoyed my posts leading up and during the Summit itself.  Thank you very much to Kevin Cuddihy and STC for providing me with the opportunity to write for STC’s Notebook on my experiences.  I hope to see you next year in Phoenix, and please check in at TechCommGeekMom.com for more insights from me about technical communication over the next year!

Danielle M. Villegas writes the blog TechCommGeekMom.com. She graduated with her MSPTC degree from NJIT in 2012, and is currently a Web publishing consultant for BASF North America and an instructor for World Learning teaching business and technical writing.

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