As 2012 came to a close, STC offered a membership promotion: renew your membership by 14 December and be entered to win a free registration to the 2013 Summit. Louise Tincher is the lucky winner of that prize, and she spoke with Your Friendly Neighborhood Blogger about renewing and going to the Summit.
First of all, thanks for renewing your membership! How many years has this been for you? What keeps you coming back?
I’ve been an STC member since 1998—15 years. From the very beginning, STC has been my source for professional education, development, and networking. I didn’t know a soul at my first chapter meeting, but I learned so much and everyone was so friendly that I knew I had to come back. I also volunteered right away and Sylvia Miller very wisely guided me to the Hospitality Committee where I quickly made friends with other volunteers and attendees.
Can you tell us a little bit about what you do in technical communication?
Most of my work now is editing documents from SMEs to meet organizational standards. This includes grammar, spelling, punctuation, formatting, layout, word choice, and writing style. I also check that documentation meets requirements for structure, content, completeness, and coherence. Some standards are internal, others are customer, project, or contract specific. So, lots of clean-up work, coaching (use active voice, cut fluff), and questions to writers (Do you mean … ?).
However, as a lone writer at the corporate office, I also get everything else. In the past year I worked on (in alphabetical order) design specifications, forms (for audits, HR, and site surveys), minutes, newsletters, online help, procedures, processes, proposals, quality audits, status reports, training materials, user manuals, and a variety of research projects.
How has your membership in STC helped with that job and others in the past?
Almost all of my training in technical communication has come through STC. I use it every day. For example, it’s much easier and faster to edit to documented standards. So I’ve developed style guides, templates, standard procedures, and training for using them. As a result, I’ve received kudos from managers for improvements in quality and efficiency.
I’ve also had co-workers thank me for making their jobs easier. Without STC I wouldn’t have known about those tools, or how to implement them effectively. I also use STC resources to research best practices and solutions. As a lone writer, the online resources and professional connections are invaluable.
What else has membership in STC provided for you?
Networking! The quality and quantity of the personal and professional relationships that I’ve made through STC is awesome. There’s no way that I can be an expert on every facet of technical communication, but I can always find an expert to consult. I’m always amazed by the expertise and generosity of my STC colleagues. I can’t put a price on that.
From our records, it looks like you’ve been to four of the last five STC Summits. What are you most looking forward to with the 2013 Summit in Atlanta with your free registration?
More of the same. When you get students, academics, and practicing professionals all together in the same space the energy is amazing. I always learn a lot from the presentations—everything from nuts and bolts basics to cutting-edge concepts. Plus, the chance to get face to face with STC staff, STC board members, vendors and overseas colleagues. I go home with dozens of new contacts and friends, most of whom I only see at the Summit.
Anything else you’d like to add?
My manager really appreciates what I bring back to the workplace from STC. He has me summarize the Summit sessions and webinars I’ve attended in writing and passes the summary up the management chain. He also has me research best practices and resources for new projects. We use the research for estimates, competitive bids, and scheduling resources. Our documentation development is on time, on schedule, and in budget.
I can’t overemphasize the value of volunteering. As an STC volunteer my professional network just naturally grew to include first chapter and then national and international leaders in our field. I’ve also learned about a wealth of resources through my volunteer duties. You get back what you give many times over when you volunteer to serve the STC community.