Columns

Intercom’s Student Perspectives Column Seeks New Voices

By Ryan Weber | STC Senior Member

The Student Perspectives column provides insights, experiences, research, and more from students across technical communication. We’re proud to introduce new voices, inject new ideas, and give the practitioners of tomorrow a platform to begin publishing their thought leadership today! Columnist Ryan Weber teaches technical communication at the University of Alabama in Huntsville and hosts the podcast 10-Minute Tech Comm. Contact him at rw0019@uah.edu to submit or pitch a column idea.

As a university professor, I love helping students get their work published, especially if they are publishing for the first time. Students feel excited and validated to see their work in print, and our field gains fresh perspectives on new trends and enduring issues. Now, I get to channel my passion for student publication into a new role as editor of the Intercom Student Perspectives column. I take over this role from Dr. Kirk St.Amant, and I am excited to fill his rather imposing shoes.

Intercom dedicates the Student Perspectives column to publishing short (750–1,000 word) entries written by students enrolled in graduate and undergraduate programs in technical, scientific, professional, or business communication. We accept pieces from single or multiple authors, and we encourage international submissions. We have already featured some terrific, exciting work. Since the column’s creation, Intercom has run student pieces on leveraging Twitter to improve campus communication, writing for a North American audience, and using technical writing skills to serve in an advocacy role.

Pieces like these bring new ideas and points of view to our field. Student voices help our field grow, but they also keep us young (even when those voices come from non-traditional students). These publications give students a writing sample that can help them move one step closer to graduate work, academic publishing, and professional writing. Highlighting student work also helps us bridge the notorious academy-industry divide, which can trap helpful insights in the university while preventing scholars and students from thinking about the full implications of their ideas.

To highlight more student voices, Intercom publishes the Student Perspectives columns on a wide variety of technical communication topics. We are particularly interested in columns that take a unique perspective on the following topics:

  • Leadership in technical communication, both in industry and academia
  • The state of the technical communication industry
  • Proposed uses of social media in technical communication contexts
  • New and emerging media trends/developments that might affect technical communication practices
  • Legal and policy developments that could affect technical communication practices
  • Emerging practices in information design—including document design, Web design, and interface design
  • Strategies for understanding audiences and users and meeting their needs
  • Examinations of usability/user experience design approaches as related to technical communication
  • Ways to bridge the academy/industry divide in technical communication
  • Content management and content strategy practices associated with technical communication
  • Ethical issues in technical communication
  • Educational approaches related to the teaching of technical communication (particularly in online contexts)
  • International aspects of technical communication

Technical communication has so many rich, diverse topics to cover, and new trends and ideas arise all the time, so I expect students have a lot they want to talk about. Articles can include primary or secondary research, theory, personal experience, or a mix of all of the above. We seek columns informed by academic inquiry that can also speak to a wide variety of technical communicators.

I encourage students to send their work in for consideration or to contact me at rw0019@uah.edu to pitch ideas or topics for columns (please include the subject line “Intercom Student Perspectives Column” to ensure a quick response to the email). You can send queries, suggestions, or questions in advance of your submission, and I will guide you through revisions, if necessary, to get your work publication-ready.

I am so pleased that Intercom and the Society for Technical Communication have committed to publishing student voices. Our current students will serve as the next generation of scholars and practitioners, so we need to bring them into our conversations now to prepare for our future. Students, this is your chance to enter the conversation. For the rest of us, this is our chance to listen.

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