Each of the candidates for the upcoming STC election were invited to submit a blog post to STC’s Notebook in support of their candidacy. Below is the post submitted by Michael Opsteegh, candidate for Director. Click on his name to take you to his election page, or visit the main STC election page for information about all candidates.
Advocating for Members and Communities
When I joined STC as a student in 2002, someone told me that you get out of STC what you put in. To an extent, that advice has rung true. STC has afforded me opportunities to publish, present at conferences, and lead, and those opportunities have benefited my career greatly. In fact, I landed each of my tech comm jobs through connections I had made through STC. To me, STC isn’t about finding my next job, it’s about meeting people with similar interests, collaborating, learning, growing, and challenging myself.
Among STC’s greatest strengths are its diverse communities. These are the groups that unite members of a particular interest or geographic region. To many members, these communities are the face of STC because they provide the networking opportunities, education, and job leads most relevant to them. To STC, these communities are the Society’s “boots on the ground” and one of the best member recruitment and retention mechanisms we have. Unfortunately, many of our communities are facing a crisis of declining membership, declining leadership, or both. As director, I will advocate for more effective community support.
STC needs to broaden its reach beyond an association for technical writers. We need to reach out to folks in allied professions, like Web developers, instructional designers, and business analysts, and let them know what an association for technical communication can do for them.
STC needs to be more globally conscious by reaching beyond the borders of the North American continent. We have made inroads in Europe, India, and China, and we should continue to do so. I know this is a process that is not moving quickly enough for some members. I am eager help in this effort, and I intend to advocate that STC regularly communicate its efforts and rational to the members. Again, supporting our communities will aid in this effort.
Finally, we need to reevaluate the programs and services that we provide. In the last decade, technology has changed the way we learn (YouTube, webinars, gamification), the way we network (LinkedIn, Facebook), and look for jobs (Twitter, Monster), and these are all spaces where STC presumes to benefit its members. STC has been expanding its offerings to keep up with these technologies, but that’s a lot of territory to defend. We need to evaluate the usage of our current services and see where we are getting the most value for our members. The Society must also do a better job of communicating efforts supporting such intangible benefits of STC membership as advancement of the profession and the growing body of knowledge.
Having served at the chapter level for many years as a leader, at the regional level as a competition judge, and at the Society level as a newsletter competition judge and a Summit track manager, I have come in contact with some of the most passionate and thoughtful people in the profession. Members are what make STC great. As director, I want to listen to your needs and concerns and advocate for our members and our communities.