Path to Fellow is a new feature here on STC’s Notebook to highlight the rich contributions of our honored members. For more information on this feature and on the honor of being named a Fellow or Associate Fellow, click here. Watch for more stories about our Fellows and Associate Fellows in the coming weeks and months as well. If you’re a Fellow or Associate Fellow and haven’t been contacted to participate, please email Kevin Cuddihy.
If you join STC because you think membership will look good on your resume, you join for the wrong reason. If you join STC because you want to enhance your knowledge and skills, it will only happen if you take control of your career—nobody will do it for you. Many members complain that STC does nothing for them and that’s true—only you can make the most of your membership.
I joined STC in 1994 and attended my first conference in 1996. A pivotal moment in my membership happened when I attended a presentation given by Saul Carliner (formerly STC President) on career development. He stressed that we are responsible for our careers: not to leave it to somebody else to manage, the importance of getting involved, and not waiting for change to happen. I never expected to hear that kind of talk at an STC conference. I took Saul’s advice and got involved.
- I was active in the formation of the Belgium Chapter to support a growing community of Technical Writers with diverse language and culture backgrounds. Until this time, members had to travel to the Netherlands and France to attend chapter meetings.
- I served as judge in the Washington, D.C. Chapter’s annual technical publication competition. I learned how to analyze technical publications for their content and quality.
- I served as Washington, D.C. Chapter liaison to the local Usability Professionals Association (UPA) chapter to coordinate World Usability Day events held in 2005, 2006, and 2007. Supporting World Usability Day was a unique opportunity for both chapters to pool talent and resources to organize events for members.
- From 1998 to 2005, I was a volunteer to the University of Ghent as a judge for an annual Business Communication competition. My experiences as a speaker at STC conferences and published author solidified my credentials to support the program and the students.
- I am managing editor of Usability Interface, newsletter of the Usability and User Experience (UUX) community. Being a managing editor taught me how to work with authors to develop an idea or a few words into a well-written article. The content of the newsletter is not possible without the contributions of its members. Publication of the newsletter is not possible without volunteers to copyedit articles and maintain the UUX website.
- I was a volunteer to my son’s Boy Scout Troop as the Communications and First Aid Merit Badge Counselor, Secretary, and Chairman. What I learned from STC about being a communicator was helpful on many occasions. Many Scouts told me that I made learning fun and educational; what I learned from them was priceless.
- As Assistant Manager of the UUX community, I ensured that every endeavor contributed to the professional development of members.
- I review book proposals and manuscripts for Elsevier, a publisher of medical and scientific literature. In this role, I learn what makes a well-written book proposal and how to analyze a manuscript.
- I support my coworkers to create well-written documentation, train them on the latest tools and techniques, and enhance the documentation management process to the high standards I learn as a member of STC.
Volunteering is how I enhance my knowledge and skills. My accomplishments are highlighted in my resume and considered impressive by prospective employers because I demonstrate a “can do, get it done” attitude. I do not volunteer to earn rewards and recognition; I volunteer because it’s fun and a great way to make new friends.
Something that is common in all Associate Fellows and Fellows is a passion for the profession, willingness to coach and mentor, and taking on new tasks to make STC an important organization for its members. I hope that my story inspires you to do the same—get involved.