Is your job title 'Technical Writer'? What on earth do you do all day? Would pursuing a job as a Technical Writer even be remotely fruitful given my past experience?
posted by furnace.heart to work & money (16 answers total) 30 users marked this as a favorite
My mother in law works for a Rather Large Corporation with a couple offices across the country. She has found an opportunity within her company, in my metro area that she thinks I'd be good for, and has the ear of the hiring manager. I believe that I'm woefully unqualified, but due to some weird family lore* (I wish I was kidding), the MIL thinks I would do well.
The position at Rather Large Corporation is for a Technical writing position. From what I can gather, I would be writing documentation for software and hardware in a field similar in scope to accounting. The Rather Large Corporation only has one technical writer for this division, and is looking for another. I'm wondering if I should take the time to apply. I'm interested, as this job would almost double my income, even at the lowest pay-grade. I would love a job like this as an attempt to broach a decent middle class income for the family, and, oh, maybe buy a house or help pay for my kid's college. I am not above nepotistic means to get a job. If I thought this was a good fit, I'd jump at it in a second...but I have my doubts, and I'd like to explore the topic before I commit to an answer for her.
I'm not a technical writer. I don't know any technical writers IRL. Sometimes at certain jobs I have, I do admin oriented things that could be construed as technical writing on a rudimentary basis (I think?). I can read, and adhere to style guides when given to me, but in college (over 6 years ago now) I only had exposure to APA and Chicago. I have a communication studies degree, and graduated with slightly better than average marks. I have not looked at a style guide since college.
So, the first part of the question is; What's it like? What does your day-to-day look like?
I have no experience working for what I consider 'real' or 'corporate' jobs; I have mostly worked for small businesses with a couple dozen employees, that have very informal work structures. Scrappy is probably the best word I'd use for these offices. I'm entirely self taught in all of the office work I do, and am acutely aware of the gaps in my knowledge. I've mostly worked in the food service industry, but mostly on the office or wholesale side. Due to daycare schedules and work/life balance, I currently have 2 jobs that total about 50 hours a week; one working for a local farm's retail operation, and roasting coffee at a small local specialty roastery. I work a lot, but in weird bursts that allow me to pick my son up from daycare, and stay home with him a couple days during the week to save on daycare costs. They don't really pay well (12-15 dollars an hour. I've never made more than 15.50 an hour for any job, ever). I am rather burnt out on this scenario, and it isn't sustainable in the long run. Which is why this opportunity sounds attractive to me...but again, I'm not sure if I'm really qualified.
In past jobs, I've managed very small teams of employees, ran small offices and worked on the documentation to run said offices from scratch, but again, this was such a small part of my job anywhere I've worked that I don't really keep it on my resume.
The second part of the question is (which is understandably hard to gauge over the internet); Would this be a good fit for me? Does my background lend itself to having technical writing chops? Would pursuing this avenue be a waste of (limited) time and hope?
*the lore in question is often brought up around the holidays after a few drinks, and is that when my sister-in-law asked me for some care instructions for a newly purchased cast iron skillet, I gave her a tome of a users manual for all things cast iron. SIL was overwhelmed and still references it to this day, apparently. In reality, this was a 4 paragraph email, written in a conversational, blog-life, askmefi answer-ish tone on how to cook and how to care for a pan. Not bad writing, and I'm proud of it, buuut not really technical writing...right? I am actually quite embarrassed that the family in law keeps bringing this up, and tries to frame me as the family 'writer' but that's a topic for me and my therapist or bartender.