Career Talk: Corporate Technical Writer Jacqui
Once her teen flies from the nest, Jacqui S. plans on leading a nomadic lifestyle in an RV. Writing is a passion she will call upon while documenting her life on the road. But in the meantime, she’s in the middle of a transition, moving from Sr. Tech Writer into a yet uncharted territory, “I want to help companies get back to where they once were—where they valued their employees. Make employees want to come to work, to look forward to it. Not feel like they have no other choice.”
She loved her job as Sr. Technical Writer, though, “Being able to put together documents for my clients and companies, I just loved it.” Jacqui created two different types of documents, user guides and technical impact specifications, the latter of which taught her how to run the program that runs ATM’s. But never fear, she’s not planning on doing any ATM hacking anytime in the near or distant future!
STUMBLING AND FALLING INTO TECH WRITING
We’re in an era where degrees and certifications are revered; the more you have, the further you’ll allegedly go. Yet, you also hear about so many people just falling into a fitting career, and that seems to be as normal a route as those degrees. Jacqui is a combination of both: She holds a bachelor’s degree in organizational management, yet she happened to have stumbled into her latest career as a Sr. Tech Writer. When the company she was employed with transferred her to a different department, she went from a tech specialist that worked with banks and their technicians to full on tech writing. “The company I transferred into completely forgot about their documentation and its maintenance!” Considering she had both the tech and writing experience, it was a natural transition when it was decided she would become the company tech documentation writer.
MOTIVATION KEEPS IT FRESH
Jacqui has a die-hard love of learning so to her, it’s motivating to create documents that help others learn and, at the same time, she picks up new information as well. It’s a win-win, in her opinion. “I enjoy different things and, with the documentation I was writing, I was also learning about so many things plus finding different ways of relaying that information to the reader.”
To her, the final product was exciting. Getting the document together in a fashion that helps people, that was one of her simple pleasures. “I’m the type of person that wants people to learn, and I feel like through my tech documents they truly are.”
YES, THERE CAN BE ISSUES
With every career, there are certain roadblocks you’ll face. It’s how you handle them that will make or break you. For Jacqui, technical writing came with one main problem in her particular workplace, “The part when you get to reviewing the documents and you know not all of that information can be made public. So, I’d have to reach out to the team and, if they had other projects they were working on, it would sometimes take hours or days for them to get me the information I needed. It didn’t matter to them that I had a tight deadline.” Jacqui was all too familiar with the crunch of getting in as much writing as possible before the document was due. She’d have to put in long hours in the days leading up to the due date.
Her only other issue? Meetings. She sometimes had them for six hours a day, five days a week, which would also interfere with those ever-looming deadlines. Tiny bits of panic would settle in her gut, “I’m sitting in those meetings thinking, I’m never gonna get any of those documents written. So, I’d sometimes just do a screen share during the meeting, and engage the team to work on the project with me. We’d work on it together. Right there in the meeting.”
THE GIFT OF ADVICE
Technical writing careers are growing faster than average, especially as more companies create gadgets and gizmos needing instruction for both internal teams and the temporarily clueless consumer. With all that being said, Jacqui has some words of wisdom for those of you considering a career in her field, “If you’re a wordy writer, then you’ll need to take classes on how to be a tech writer because it’s such a different style.” She continues, “You need to know how to tailor it down, tone it down to just the basic instruction. You literally only have to write what’s needed. And that’s it.”
She also advises about the deadlines. To be a technical writer, you need to be able to stare those deadlines in the face without blinking. “Be prepared. There are going to be some tight ones, and then some projects that aren’t as critical. And, there are going to be those times when you can’t get the info you need as fast as you need it.” She says practicing patience is crucial.
“It makes me feel good that I’m a part of someone’s learning process. It’s incredibly satisfying.”
Jacqui is a born and raised Delawarean and recent Pennsylvanian transplant. She is the author of the Young Adult book, Cavern Cove. Before discovering the joy of writing, Jacqui held a variety of jobs as a customer service representative, a payments operations analyst, and a cleaner. Writing was a later-in-life discovered love, and she has been doing it since 2010. Either her books, online content articles, or as a Technical Writer with an Industry Leading financial corporation, Jacqui has incorporated writing into her life and is thrilled to have been able to make a living from it.