An STC "First" Look: First Renewing Members!

As you're hopefully aware, the renewal and new member drive for 2011 has started! There's already been a rush of both new and returning members signing up, and we look forward to many more. Don't forget to check out our Member-Get-a-Member campaign. You can save up to $50 off your 2011 membership by referring colleagues who then join STC. (See the link for full details.)

Thanks to Selena here at Stately STC Manor, Your Friendly Neighborhood Blogger got in touch with the first new member to join, the first member to renew, and the first Gold member of the year, and asked them a few questions. Answers for the renewing members are below, and the interview with the first new member will come shortly.

The first member to renew is Chuck Bowden from Washington state. The first Gold member for 2011 is Michelle Bezverkov of Texas. Thanks to both for taking the time to answer my questions!

First Renewing Member, Chuck Bowden

When did you first join STC, and what prompted you to do so?
2009. I resigned from my corporate job after 25 years to start up my own freelance writing and research company, Broad Reach Tech Comm. I decided to get connected with the top people in the business today and get dialed in on the current best practices and tools, like topic-based authoring, single-sourcing, translation memory.

What went into your decision to renew?
Respect for the people in STC and their commitment to share knowledge and support each other, often even though many are “competitors.”

Was there a specific thinking of “I want to renew right away for 2011”?
Have the funds now, might not later, let's lock it in.
What communities are you in and why?
I have been mostly observing, but now that you mention it, this is a major reason for re-upping:  I want to do more reaching out and taking advantage of the benefits of STC. I haven't done it justice yet. More exploring is in order. My old company used to always submit work for the competition years ago.
What's your history as a technical communicator and your current position?
In college I was an explore-every-topic person. “Well-rounded.” I was heavy in the sciences, but also literature, English, and journalism. I had been an electronics enthusiast with a soldering iron and boxes of components since age 10, but was not sure about the solitary work of electrical engineering. I graduated from WSU with a General Studies in the Humanities BA, but with all the engineering math, physics, chemistry, and first-year engineering courses in the EE track. But once I figure out that being able to write well and being a technical person were usually two different things, I decided my career would be electronics technical writer. I was in love with Fluke already—I owned a Fluke handheld digital multimeter for which I paid $135, which was a huge sum of money for me as a 20-year old around 1980.

So I went to work for Fluke as an entry-level technical writer, did that career track for 15 years, then moved into product planning for my most recent 10 years. This put me out in the field a lot, exploring how people work in various industries and places throughout the US, Canada, Europe, and China, figuring out new product ideas, selling the concept to management, and serving on the product development team as the end-user proxy and definition manager. I worked with UI and UX designers a lot during this phase, devised web surveys and focus groups—even moderated some of them. I  spent a lot of time with end users. Great fun. But the extensive travel was starting to wear. I was missing the writing. I was not going to miss the bureaucracy inherent in every large corporation, no matter how good it is. So I made my move into entrepreneurship 11 months ago. It's working.
What STC benefits have you taken advantage of in the past?
None, other than participating in contest entries.
How has membership in STC helped you in your career?
That is coming this year—I know some of the STC leaders through my Fluke career, so I'll start with them for guidance.
Anything else you'd like to add?
Proud to be a member!

First Gold Member, Michelle Bezverkov

How long have you been a member of STC?
Since 2006.

What's your history as a technical communicator and your current position?
I majored in Tech Writing at Utah State University and entered the work force as a Technical Editor for an Environmental Engineering company, where I worked for five years. I edited their findings reports and hosted community outreach meetings for the three military depots in the area. I was able to use my creative skills to create newsletters for interested community members regarding the progress of cleanup at each of the military installations.

I then move into a Technical Writer/Editor role for a software development company where I wrote all of their product manuals, including two complete software user manuals and an administrator manual, and wrote much of their marketing literature. While there, I instituted a training program. I was with that company for just over a year and a half.

I obtained a position with my current employer in 2008 and have been here for 2.5 years. In my current position I write all of the product manuals around all of my division’s products, which includes pre-installation, installation, user, and service manuals. Our products ship all over the world, so I handle all of the required translations for our documentation into 15 languages. I also assist with writing and editing company procedures.

In all three of my positions, I have been the only Technical Writer in the company, which has been rewarding and challenging.

Are you a member of any communities?
I am a member of the Lone Star community.

What prompted you to first join STC?
Initially it was because a professional affiliation looked good on a resume. I found that I enjoyed reading the articles in the STC publications to gain better perspective on what tools fellow Tech Writers use, as well as gain an understanding of the possibilities in a Tech Writing role. As a lone Tech Writer in all of my companies, I intended to use my membership to glean ideas from other members, and to help me keep up to speed on recent technologies and ideas.

What went into your decision to renew?
It was mostly because I want to be able to attend more seminars and events to further my career within my company. I also enjoy receiving Intercom and TechComm.

Was there a specific thinking of “I want to sign up right away for 2011”?
The email to renew came through and I didn’t want to forget to sign up, so I moved while it was fresh on my mind.

What about Gold Membership caught your eye?
The value, first and foremost. It was easy for me to approach my employer to ask for the slightly more costly Gold membership when I mapped out the benefits and cost savings, such as my ability to attend five free live webinars a year along with 50% off a certificate course.

What STC benefits have you taken advantage of in the past?
I have used the job board to assist me in job searches, the prestige of belonging to a professional affiliation listed on my resume to help me find new positions, and the publications for tips and ideas.

Anything else you'd like to add?
I look forward to attending webinars and taking certificate courses to help me further my career in the coming year. I am excited to gain and use new information learned through STC in my job to help further cement my worth to my employer.

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