By Bethany Aguad | STC Member and Alexandra Engrand | Student Member
Here in the Orlando Central Florida (OCF) STC Chapter, we connect with the theme for the 2018 STC Summit: Communicate the Future. As STC celebrates a glowing 65-year past and takes a peek at the future of the profession, our chapter looks to one of our greatest strengths: student volunteerism. By volunteering for STC, students grow into valuable members of the Society. They also make connections, develop key technical communication competencies, and become more employable upon graduation. By engaging these talented students, STC gains future leaders who will ensure the Society innovates, grows, and thrives over the coming years. The award-winning OCF Chapter owes much of its success to a continuous pipeline of young talent from the nearby University of Central Florida (UCF).
UCF has an active English/Technical Communication program. Professors in the program prepare the students for entering the field not only through their coursework, but also by providing job and internship announcements for students. In addition, a professor in the English Department serves as the faculty advisor for UCF’s Future Technical Communicators (FTC) club. He supervises meetings and helps advertise FTC to his students, many of whom are in technical fields like tech comm and IT.
Because of the partnership between FTC and OCF, we have a consistent student presence at our monthly meetings. Here, students are able to meet and mingle with other professional technical writers and communicators in the Orlando area. This presents future internship and job opportunities, as well as learning experiences. OCF’s monthly meetings normally consist of a guest speaker presenting on their expertise. For example, one meeting hosted an employment panel where attendees could ask questions about applications, interviews, and the general hiring process. Students are welcome to attend and are able to gain new insights and knowledge about the world of technical communication through these meetings.
Here in Orlando, we recognize that much of our success is the product of this long partnership between chapter and university through our successful student mentoring program. Every year, OCF, in conjunction with UCF, pairs veterans from the front lines of the industry with talented technical communication students. The mentoring program enables skilled mentors to help, support, guide, and give advice where needed to their mentees. Now in its 15th year, the mentoring program continues to pursue its primary goal: to bridge the gap between industry and academia.
Over the decades, many of our student mentees have gone on to assume leadership positions within the chapter. Several veteran community leaders are in the process of handing the reins of chapter leadership over to the next generation of technical communicators. We believe that these rising stars hold the future of the community—and, on a larger scale, the Society—in their hands.
As we look to the future, what could be more appropriate than to engage with talented young STC leaders who will help forge that future? If you know a gifted student, encourage them to attend the 2018 STC Summit in Orlando so they can be engaged and learn. If you are a student, this is your chance to meet with experienced professionals in the Society, in addition to other students at the premier conference for technical communication education and networking. At the Summit, the experience and advice from tech comm professionals will synergize with the fresh ideas and enthusiasm of our students to benefit not only STC communities, but also the Society as a whole.