Here are some more interview responses from our September speaker, Kit Brown-Hoekstra. Read the previous Q and A session here.
What advice would you give to people who want to begin a career as a technical communicator?
Be curious and ask impertinent questions. Learn skills in a variety of areas that interest you. Get good at the fundamentals, but don’t stop there—actively seek opportunities to learn something new. Network and build connections amongst your peers and mentors. Say Yes more than No, even if it’s a bit scary. Be proactive. Work from your strengths. Learn the business side of what we do. Explore the world, learn a language, learn about other cultures—try to rise above your own cultural milieu and worldview. Do excellent work in everything you do (if it’s not worth doing well, it’s not worth doing).
Do informational interviews with people who do what you are interested in doing. Research companies, industries, the person you are interviewing with, etc. before your interview. Make sure that your resumé is error-free. Show what you can do.
What do you feel is the most important skill for a technical communicator?
The ability to take complex information and distill it down so that people can make use of it, and to do that in such a way that the right content is delivered at the right time with the right level of detail for the audience.
What is your favorite thing about being a technical communicator?
The variety and the fact that we touch product, process, and service on this planet. I also like meeting new people and learning new things.
What tools do you use to do your job?
Depends on the client.
If you weren’t in this profession, what would you be?
How do you stay current with issues related to technical communication?
Read, network, stay curious, participate in several conferences, and I am active in STC.
What else would you like to share that’s related to this field?
Technical Communication is what you make of it. Because our profession is embedded in every aspect of life on this planet, and because our work is often part of the infrastructure, people tend to take it for granted—until something goes wrong. You can choose to change that.
It’s up to us to make sure that our organizations understand the value of our contributions and that we understand the business side of what we do so that we can communicate effectively with management.
Always remember, content is a business asset, and your decisions and actions should reflect that.