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How to Use Volunteering to Get a Job in Technical Writing

TechWhirl WebsiteTechWhirl Website United StatesPosts: 396 admin
edited September 2013 via Wordpress in Technical Writing and Communications
imageHow to Use Volunteering to Get a Job in Technical Writing

One year ago, I graduated from Portland State University with a Master’s in Technical Writing, and set out into the world, sure that a career as a professional writer was within my grasp. Then reality showed its ugly head – I was going into the expertise-heavy world of technical writing with a piece of paper and little practical experience. Every job listing included the soul-killing phrase “5-10 years of experience preferred”.

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  • CraigCraig Posts: 8 ✭✭
    via Wordpress
    Excellent article! Thank you.
  • Michael MunkvoldMichael Munkvold Posts: 1
    via Wordpress
    Glad you like it, Craig - I hope you found it helpful.
  • Well expressed and exactly how I started as a TW 20 years ago after a long hands-on spell as a control systems technician. I only write about dirty-hands, industrial stuff which is my interest and expertise. I found a small company here in Adelaide that made a fairly specialised machine. The machine was good but their manual was lousy. I re-wrote it, did some simple diagrams in Word and they were happy. I was offered money but said a reference and the use of the manual as a sample would do. I've had pretty steady work ever since.
    Now in semi-retirement, I'm looking to do voluntary work for small companies that are working in the renewable energy/sustainability area. It's easier to find paid work.
  • carleecommcarleecomm AustraliaPosts: 4
    Great article! I agree, volunteering is an excellent way to move into a role that you desire.

    My story is not the same as yours, Michael, but I also used volunteering to acquire the TW job I have today. When I first realised I wanted to be a TW I had already worked as a non-technical writer (print mags, web copywriting, radio advertising copy, etc.) for about 15 years. I didn't have any formal TW-related training behind me, and was considering doing something about that, but at the same time I started volunteering to write user guides, procedural manuals, etc. for the clients and companies I did contract/freelance work for.

    Eventually I had enough project examples to land work based on my documentation skills and now I'm lucky enough to do my dream job full-time.
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