By Timothy Esposito | STC President
You may find yourself editing a large DITA document, and you may ask yourself, “How do I work this?” And now you may find yourself as the President of the Society for Technical Communication, and you may ask yourself, “How did I get here?” Well, for me, the answer is not as straightforward as you may think; it involved a lot of attempts, many of which failed, before achieving success.
Every technical communicator has a story about how they found their niche in the workforce. My tech writing career began in college when they rolled out a new email service and asked me to write instructions on how to use it. So, I wrote up some steps, added a personal copyright in the footer, and submitted it to the IT department. Shortly thereafter, my instructions were being handed out (sadly without my copyright) to both students and professors alike. While it took a few years for my career to catch up, when it did, tech writing was a natural fit.
Soon after becoming a full-time technical communicator, my manager suggested I join STC. I attended a few local meetings of the Philadelphia Metro Chapter and signed up. Almost immediately the chapter sought to get me involved. First, they suggested I run for chapter president (I lost), and then they had me set up a chapter scholarship program, a process which helped me later re-establish STC’s student scholarship. After a few years of being chapter treasurer, I ran for the role of STC treasurer and lost to Jim Bousquet, who honestly was a better treasurer than I would have ever been. Then I was passed over by the Nominating Committee no less than 3 times. So, I chaired a few awards committees for the next couple of years before running for society secretary, and then VP and president; and here I am now the new STC president.
Did all these failures and successes make me a better presidential candidate? Did they give me what it takes to be a leader for our Society? Well, what they did give me was insight into how STC works, and how the passionate members, volunteers, and staff want the Society to grow and thrive. It gave me the courage to step out of my introverted tendencies and lead a group. Personally, I would love for all of you to consider becoming more involved with the Society; do not be afraid of risk and failure! Challenges will only make you a stronger person and increase your visibility in the job market, as well as open connections within our community.
For the next few years, STC will face some great challenges itself. We said goodbye to our longtime, dedicated CEO Liz Pohland. However, as they say, every time a door is closed, another one opens. STC is already researching new CEO and association management options. This will also mean changes in the Society; maybe what worked 20 years ago isn’t a good model in today’s culture. Our Annual Business Meeting and Leadership Programs have already moved to being virtual events so we can include more members, for example. What other changes would you like to see happen? A new model for membership? A new structure for communities? What do you think STC needs to do to meet the needs of you and your communities? Let the board know by sending a note to firstname.lastname@example.org.
STC and You
As you let the days go by, pause and consider where you and STC are going. While STC could be the same as it ever was, consider – how can it be better for not just you, but for everyone in the Society? Technical communicators are a diverse group with diverse skills. How can you and STC help each other achieve greatness and find your beautiful house, meet your beautiful spouse, and get behind the wheel of that large automobile?
TIMOTHY ESPOSITO (email@example.com) is the 2023-24 president of STC. His ongoing column will keep you updated on STC’s direction, and be filled with fun cultural references such as https://youtu.be/5IsSpAOD6K8.