In the last issue (March-April 2019), I confessed to a bias around the theme of content strategy and experience. I stated “the most important thing that content professionals can do is create the right content experience … and the only way to do that with high success and excellence is to deliver that content according to the right content strategy.”
Now I’m going to qualify that statement. I believe that the most important thing that content professionals can do for their audience is to create the right content experience through the right content strategy.
Why am I backpedaling? Because I believe that the most important thing that content professionals (or any professional, for that matter) can do for themselves is to develop professionally. In my mind, that means:
- Being a lifelong learner
- Living a self-examined life—knowing your strengths and what you love, as well as your weaknesses and what you hate
- Thinking consciously and strategically about your industry, your career, and how your career progression affects your life
- Remaining open and coachable
- Proactively seeking out opportunities to learn and create new things
- Actively interacting with others who can hold you accountable, teach you, learn from you, and generally help you move forward in your career and life
- Taking action on what you learn to demonstrate your skills and showcase your results
As a university-level instructor for more than 20 years and a senior leader/mentor/coach in several corporate staff positions for nearly 30 years, I have now built my business on a foundation of professional development. I am confident that this is the greatest tool we, as an industry, have to grow, impact our audiences and our employers or clients, demonstrate our value, increase our personal wealth and satisfaction, and generally live a better life. That probably sounds like a big promise, but it can happen—I’ve not only seen it, I’ve lived it.
With that bias in mind, I have assembled a stellar lineup of professional development ideas for you to devour in this jam-packed issue!
First up, Andrew Lawless, a Kolbe certified coach, gives us some great advice about mentors and coaches. His advice about getting the benefits of coaching for low or no financial investment is priceless!
Gabby Pascuzzi, technical writer and Survivor contestant, shares her technical communication learnings from the challenges she faced on reality TV through an article based on her 2019 STC Summit Honors Event presentation. This thoughtful and resilient communicator represented, and her lessons span day-to-day tech comm, leadership, and life.
Alyssa Fox, past STC President and long-time STC leader and manager of content professionals, provides great advice for career success in your current role—in other words, don’t wait til you need a new job to develop professionally!
Vici Koster-Lenhardt, another long-time STC leader and career advisor for the United States State Department, tells us how to get unstuck. Feeling like you’re in a rut, or don’t know what to do next with your career? Check out Vici’s article!
Jack Molisani, a recruiter who specializes in technical communication professionals and yet another long-time STC leader, reveals the number one skill his audience feels is needed by all technical communicators and tells us how to pick up those crucial skills.
Kit Brown-Hoekstra, past STC President and another long-time STC leader, provides a quick and easy way to understand informational interviewing and how it can contribute to career growth and job transitions.
Ken Schatze introduces us to his company’s GROW model for developing professionally in your current job—a nicely developed model, explained clearly in this article to make it very simple for you to pick up and use right away!
Jasmine Amerin and Erica Stone, from the University of Missouri – Kansas City, describe a case study of their work with the Code for America brigades and how working with Code for Kansas City is helping a class of technical communicators to build practical technical communication skills and learn while they’re doing it!
We had so much great content this month, we didn’t have room to print them all. You can find the following articles in the online version of this month’s issue.
Shelley Thomas answers a question that I’m sure has plagued many (if not all) of us: Should we review others’ documents for free? What do you think? Read Shelley’s article to get her thoughtful opinion on the matter.
Jeanine Meier gives us some tips for learning new skills for problem solving.
Rama Vasudevan asks us if goal setting is the best way to grow our careers.
Whew! That’s a lot of great stuff! But wait, there’s more! We also have three columns for you in this issue:
- Columnists Cindy Currie and Kit Brown-Hoekstra enlist the assistance of Phylise Banner, instructional design expert, to help them answer questions in “Ask a Tech Comm Manager.”
- Kirk St.Amant kicks off our new “Health and Medical Communication” column—a very timely topic, as healthcare is getting a lot of attention right now!
- Russ Willerton explains Ty Herrington’s “Axis of Power” model for determining an appropriate course of action when you are faced with an ethical quandry. Thought-provoking and practical!
And don’t forget to check out the Society pages!
Finally, please engage us in conversation! The feature authors, columnists, and I are devoting our time and effort to create this rich resource for you, and we want you to get as much value from it—and us—as possible! We’ve provided our email addresses so that you can get in touch. We can also discuss articles and issues with you online, so we hope that you’ll ask a question or start or join a conversation!
Here’s to your wild success!
Andrea L. Ames