This post originally ran on the STC Rochester blog. For more information, visit STC Rochester. And don’t forget: all STC members are encouraged to register for Spectrum 2018: STC Rochester’s regional techcomm conference. 


By Johanne Lavallée | STC Member

I was asked during a Community Affairs Committee webinar why a Quebec person would belong to the STC Rochester council. Since the decision to join a council takes some reflection, I would like to explain here why I joined. It might inspire you to join us next spring!

I had my first contact with STC when I started in tech comm full time in 1997, with an actual technical writer boss, who had Intercom issues in his library for me to read. Then I joined in 2013 before going to Summit. While speaking at Spectrum 2016, I met the STC Rochester people, a very warm and welcoming group, a mix of seasoned technical communicators and RIT students. The conference was so interesting and the experience so nice that I left wanting to be a part of it, somehow. I figured with today’s technology, anything is possible. Plus, following recommendations from Ben Woelk, my traveling partner and I visited New York’s wine country, south of Rochester in the Finger Lakes—it was delightful.

Back home, I had decided to retire from environment volunteering to concentrate on my professional life. I became friends through LinkedIn and Facebook with a few Rochester members. The same week I “retired” from 10 years of being a secretary on the Quebec water outlet council, Ben Woelk texted me in Facebook, telling me the council had an opening for the secretary position. He could not possibly know how amazing the synchronicity was! How could I refuse?

Quebec City is nine hours from Rochester, allowing for one stop to eat. In 2016 I went to Rochester for the planning retreat, adding a day for wine exploration again. This year, in addition to going to Rochester for Spectrum 2017, I made the trip for the crossover dinner in June, as well as for the planning retreat. Bobbi Werner asked me to come because it was her last day as a president, and I could not refuse an invitation from such a wonderful person. We have council members on the west coast and in Syracuse, and thanks to technology we get to chat together about once a month by voice and we stay in touch by email and on our Slack channel.

Being a volunteer in a council is an incredible chance to work with people I would not usually work with, like Ann Wiley, who reviews this post and teaches me certain quirks of the English language, outside of the simplified English I use. Working with the Spectrum co-chairs, we get insight on how they manage such a big project and we can bring new tools to our own projects. Doing all the online meeting minutes as secretary, I get to learn, in-depth, what everyone is working on and how they accomplish all the tasks that bring you the programs such as webinars, networking, social events, and our regional conference, of course.

You can download a software tool and learn it, but that will not allow you to write the experience on your résumé. Using a tool while volunteering with the chapter is a most impressive addition to your résumé.

Right now, the chapter is looking for someone to learn to document how it has met the Community Achievement Award requirements and to submit next year’s application. This task is very rewarding, and many council members know how to do this, which makes it a smooth transition. We also require help finding mentor-mentee pairings. If you need more experience, or want to share yours with a student or someone seeking to change careers, go for it! Picking one of these two endeavors will help your résumé rise to the top of the pile, while you get to know members of a great chapter that consistently wins awards to prove it!

I got the Rookie of the Year award in 2017 from STC Rochester. Are you next?

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