Written by Jay Manaloto
Special Message from Professor Jablonski to our STC Chapter
I am looking for area technical writers interested in working with UNLV students who are enrolled in my ENG 407C, Advanced Professional Communication course this semester. Students are asked to study writing in their chosen career areas and several of the students are English majors in our Professional Writing Major Concentration and interested in technical writing. The students will be asked to study technical writing at a particular company by interviewing a technical writer, conducting a site visit/observation, and collecting and analyzing some sample documents. Students would likely have to conduct 3-4 interviews by face-to-face, phone, or e-mail over the course of the semester as well.
If you are willing to help a UNLV student this semester or have questions before you commit, please contact me by e-mail at email@example.com and let me know a little about your work. Students will begin their assignments as early as next week February 3, so a prompt response would be appreciated.
Also, if you believe you or your company might be interested in providing technical writing/editing-related internships, I would love to strengthen the ties between UNLV and the local STC membership in this regard.
Jeffrey Jablonski, PhD
Department of English
University of Nevada Las Vegas
The next morning, I replied:
As a new member of our local STC Southern Nevada chapter, I heard about your message from our chapter president Raf Adame. I can’t speak for the rest of the group, but I think your request sounds intriguing! I was a technical writer at TRIRIGA (Las Vegas) for 6 years before IBM acquired us in 2011. So I can talk to students about my experience in converting from Microsoft Word documentation to IBM’s topic-based DITA-XML format. I’m not sure about company internships, but I’d be interested in providing writer interviews, doc samples, or site visits.
I don’t see a problem, but first, let me get permission from my manager and my lab leader. Also, out of curiosity, from how many students should I expect an interview request or site visit? Even if it’s random, a rough estimate would be fine. That way, I can better prepare my work schedule. :)
IBM TRIRIGA information developer
The next hour:
Thank you for the reply and offer to help. For the class projects that I am speaking of, I would only pair you with one student. The first assignment (see attached), asks the student to write an in-depth profile of writing in a particular company, so the student would want to know what kinds of writing you do, how the writing gets produced, what the review process is like, etc. The first assignment requires a site visit and interview, but if the student can get access to other writers, that would improve the quality of data collected.
The remaining assignments (three other papers) would involve the student analyzing samples of writing collected during the initial site visit. The student would be encouraged to consult with the company contact (you) about the accuracy of the student’s interpretations and analysis, which could occur during phone or e-mail exchanges and would not necessarily need to disrupt your work day.
Two hours later:
Thank you for the follow-up details and attachments. This looks very doable. In fact, both my manager and lab leader approved my request, so an IBM Las Vegas site visit is no problem at all. Moreover, I should be available throughout the semester for additional questions or data collection. Let me know if you need anything else.
The next hour:
That’s great. Students have to start picking their “contexts” by next week, so I will have a student contact you some time next week. Thank you so much and look forward to meeting you!
So far, so good. I’ll keep you posted. :)