At the Summit: "I Feel At Home"

As events continue at the Summit, Your Friendly Neighborhood Blogger will be posting news and information from the conference. I’ve also solicited a handful of our attendees to provide blog posts about their thoughts: what they’ve done, what they’ve learned, what they’ve enjoyed, and what they’ve experienced. Look for them in the coming days under the main title of At the Summit. Here’s the first of them, from Brian Lindgren.

Every year the STC Summit is a nice blend of old and new. Friends are first and foremost in this category. Having been an STC member now more than 23 years I’ve made some great friends and connections, but in many cases—mostly due to “real life” getting in the way—I see these colleagues only once a year. While in many cases I exchange emails and phone calls with these individuals, nothing can top eye-to-eye discussions and the Summit atmosphere is a great place to reconnect. As I said, though, it’s a nice blend of old an new. In addition to reconnecting with familiar faces, each Summit also presents opportunities to make new acquaintances.

Depending on my work load at my day job and what Summit-related responsibilities I might have, my arrival time might vary. This year, having no firm commitments, I arrived on Saturday morning, which gave me some time to shake off jet lag and reacquaint myself with Phoenix, which I last visited 10 years ago.

STC’s long-standing relationship with Hyatt hotels is also a nice blend of old and new—certain amenities are consistent, but there are nuances in each city. This particular hotel has some better dining options and the drinking establishments have a better array of top-shelf liquors. However, since we know that technical communicators absolutely never imbibe, I heard that detail from a random hotel guest … and possibly some of the 20 or so familiar faces with whom I was able to share a soft drink or several.

This year, for me, the Summit really started at Sunday night’s opening session. One great change over the past three or four years is the repositioning of the keynote address to Sunday night. Originally the Sunday night session was a basic kick-off and welcome, and the keynote was Monday morning. Moving up the keynote to Sunday night heightens the intensity of the kick-off and lets attendees hit the ground running with education session first-thing Monday. It seems that we had the pleasure of two keynote speakers this year—Jonathon Colman, Facebook content strategist, was the formally designated speaker, but we were also treated to a videotaped appearance by TV legend Alan Alda, who thanked STC for the Honorary Fellow.

A major theme from Colman’s keynote was “What is your job title?” He noted the array of titles technical communicators have and addressed the issue of perception (i.e., how people view what it is we do). This is a question that cuts to the core of all of us at STC. Officially, I actually don’t have a job title, and none of the various positions listed on my business cards during within the last eight years conveys “technical communicator,” yet technical communication in its various forms is part of what I do every day.

Ultimately, that ties back to the value of the Summit for me; being here, I feel “at home” among colleagues. My company may not know how to define my job, my business cards may not convey exactly what I do, but when I am at the Summit I know exactly who I am and each year I learn a little bit more about why I do what I do. Technical communication can be a maddening career choice, sometimes marked by periods of under-employment and other frustrations, but in the end it’s the only career choice that makes any sense to me.

One Reply to “At the Summit: "I Feel At Home"”

  1. Nicely said. I feel at home. Yes! Thanks to all who attended and spoke and were open to hanging out. This conference reminded me of what I’ve been missing the last few years. I love the people who go to the STC Summit!

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